45. How B2B Companies Can Humanize Their Brands for Better Growth | Sam Kühnle

Slide Ep. 45: Interview w. Sam Kuehnle

How B2B Companies Can Humanize Their Brands for Better Growth

EP 45 - Sam Kühnle

It’s a topic that is so crucial yet tends to get overlooked at B2B organizations: humanizing the brand for growth. During our conversation with Sam Kühnle (Director of Demand GenerationRefine Labs), he elaborates on why B2B organizations need to build trust and get closer to their customers through branding and go beyond being solely information, product and feature driven. Sam also talks about why now is the time for companies to take action, humanize their brands, and stand out amongst all the noise in the market.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Why it is so important for B2B companies to humanize their brands [2:17]
  • How to humanize your brand through empathy [7:59] and an example of that [9:33]
  • Some of the key elements to humanizing your brands [12:20]
    • Authenticity
    • Being personable
    • Opening up
    • Going beyond the personas
  • Sam shares his observation on the key changes in B2B companies in the past 12 months [20:54]
  • Having a point of view or an opinion does not make you unprofessional. Test things out! [23:53]

Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

SPEAKERS

Christian Klepp, Sam Kuehnle

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.

All right, welcome everybody to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. I’m your host, Christian Klepp. And today, I would like to welcome a guest into the show, who is in fact a B2B marketer on a mission. And that mission is not only to take marketing to the next level, but to also proactively as he says it, “proactively humanized B2B brands out there”. So Mr. Sam Kuehnle, welcome to the show.

Sam Kuehnle  00:56

Thank you, thank you. Excited to be here and to chat with you about this. And finally, know someone who has my… understands my German background and says the last name as it should be pronounced.

Christian Klepp  01:06

Yeah, it’s, um, yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, when I saw it, I was… because I spent some time in that region of Germany, as I mentioned to you like for two years. So, I’m pretty good with like, if I see somebody surname that has an “le” in the end, I’m like, your family or your roots are in southwestern Germany. And, in any case, Sam, let’s switch gears here and get this conversation started. And I can’t help myself but to start this conversation, talking about something that you posted on LinkedIn this morning. I thought it’s so appropriate with what we’re about to discuss. So I’m going to leave it to you to talk about what you wrote. But I’m gonna say this alright, I thought that you ended that post so beautifully. And I’m going to quote you here and see if I get this right. “Business is more personal than ever. And the way to guarantee long term recurring revenue is by having a brand people want to be associated with.” So talk to us about why you think that is so important, especially since there’s a stereotype that B2B has to be more logical or professional or (boring) (laugh).

Sam Kuehnle  02:17

Yes, yeah. So our conversations that it was definitely top of mind as I was going through my… I like to try to get a thought out every couple of days or so. So I was musing on this, I’m staring at my water bottle I’ve got next to me that has a whole bunch of different stickers on it. And it’s like, I’ll show you Christian right here, you can see it’s coated left and right with different brands I associate myself with and as I was looking through it, I was like, man, every single one of these stickers is a B2C brand. I spend eight plus hours every day using various B2B marketing tech. God knows what else tech software programs, and there’s not a single sticker I’ve got on my water bottle that’s from them. And I was like, why do we think this is? what’s going on here? It seems like, if we do spend this much time day to day with these B2B software, we’d at least want to have a little bit of an affinity towards them. So I was thinking on that a little bit more, and I was like, okay, what are the brands from a B2C standpoint that we’re drawn to? And why are we drawn towards them? So taking some top of mine, that’s like, all right, Apple, Yeti, Lululemon, three pretty recognizable B2C brands. And each of those usually bring a pretty strong vision to mind. So Apple innovation, Yeti adventure, Lululemon health and wellness, then I was thinking, Okay, why don’t we align or want to align more closely with different B2B brands. And it’s because they’re boring, they don’t have a personality. They don’t stand for any values that we see in ourselves or want to see in ourselves. And that then distill down to its… why are they doing this, and I think a lot of it has to do with B2B brands look at their total addressable market, and they’re so worried about offending a single person in there that they don’t want to turn off any potential buyers or anything else. So in order to keep that market 100% intact, it keeps them from offending anyone also turns you just into a replaceable commodity. I mean, at that point, you’re just one of any software providers that can do word processing or marketing automation or anything else, because you all do the same thing. Some just come down to price or what’s the differentiator because I’m not drawn to you and any sense of like, I have to work with them because it’s a great product that I align with.

So that then carried down into a rabbit hole of a conversation that we had a couple weeks ago where it’s, you mentioned like, people usually say it’s just business, it’s not personal, but is more or less, I mean, we’re working from home. We’re working eight plus hours a day. It is becoming personal. I think that a lot of our day to day is slowly blending into it’s not leave the office at five o’clock and you can just check out and hang all your stuff up, you’re carrying it around with you, you’re in platforms more than ever. So that’s what led me to that quote that you said at the end, it’s “business is becoming personal.” And if you want long term recurring revenue that you can count on, I’m always gonna go back to Apple for my next phone, because I know they’re always innovating, I’m gonna keep going back to Yeti because they build great coolers and drink ware. And they don’t have to worry about me going to a competitor who might be a little bit cheaper, but I understand the value that I’m getting from them. How do we translate that over to B2B where churn rate is such an issue? That’s top of mind for everyone? How do we guarantee recurring revenue by becoming a brand that’s like, well, there’s a competitor that can do this for a little bit less, but I have such a good relationship with that platform, that’s never even crossed my mind that I would want to switch to a different provider because of the relationship that we’ve generated.

Christian Klepp  05:48

Absolutely, man, I mean, you brought up so many great points in the past couple of minutes. And all of which I think I resonate with. The other thing I would say, which you kind of hinted at, but would you say that building that stronger brand for B2B also helps to develop or create that trust, right, between that between the brand and the in the target market?

Sam Kuehnle  06:12

Yeah, definitely. I mean, as marketers working for companies, people already assume that we’re coming at them full of crap for better lack of term. So, if you just keep saying these generalities that they’re walking away, like, I don’t even know what that means. But if you say something that’s real, and has meaningful, they’re gonna be like, okay, there’s a person behind that, because that doesn’t just come out of thin air. Someone’s thought about that and has empathized with what I do or understands my day to day, people have a really, really good sense of when someone’s being truthful, direct, honest, straightforward, however you want to call it versus being buttoned up politically correct, because they have to say that thing that their PR rep told them to say. So I think that’s where it kind of gets into.

Christian Klepp  06:58

Or superficial and transactional.

Sam Kuehnle  07:00

Yeah, exactly. Like, are you a number of them? Are you person to them?

Christian Klepp  07:03

Right. Right. I think you brought up a really great point there. And I would say that’s one of the key words of the day, empathize. Right? It’s something that you’ve brought up, I believe in one of your posts. And it’s something I think it’s so relevant across the spectrum. It’s not just B2B marketing. I mean, you hear it when people are talking about design thinking, about product design and development. Because if people are unable to empathize with that end user, that person that’s ultimately going to use that product or service. How are they going to get it right?

Sam Kuehnle  07:34

Mm hmm.

Christian Klepp  07:35

All right. Great. So you’ve been in the field for a bit. So I will assume that you’ve seen a couple of things out in the front. Right. So what do you think are some of the most common mistakes that you’ve seen B2B organizations make? Hence, the need to humanize their brand? And how do you think that they can address these issues?

Sam Kuehnle  07:59

Yeah. So I’d say the first one along the lines of empathy is, it’s like, Do you truly know and understand your audience? Like, yes, you might know, the role that they have, their company demographics, how many employees do they have in their industry, but what makes up the personalities of the individuals in those roles, what draws them to the companies that they work at? And the only way that you can do that is by talking to your customers. So understand what are some different interests. People like you and I work probably a little bit more interested in data than people that are in a sales role. And you can probably find some trends like that to play into your overall messaging. So understanding their interests, their quirks, different things like that, and then tie that into your brand, or at least how you approach that specific segment. And then use that when you communicate out to them. So use that in your ad copy, use that in your emails, use that just in day to day conversations with them, let them know. You understand them, how they think, what they’re focused on the because if you start throwing around words like ROI and revenue to a data scientist, they’re probably not going to care too much. So I mean, how do you relate to them and have a conversation about something that matters to them?

Christian Klepp  09:08

That’s absolutely right. And you know what, you gave me such a great segway there to the next question, because now that you’ve seen the most common mistakes out there, and how they should be addressed, can you give an example… now be it from your own professional experience or something you’ve seen out there in the market… Either one is fine, but give an example of where you’ve seen a B2B organization have witnessed positive changes because they humanize their brand.

Sam Kuehnle  09:33

Yeah. So I’d say for me, this one, the first one that came to mind was Drift. So I think when they started out, they did a great job of differentiating themselves a little bit more. I mean, they were in the chatbot industry. There’s lots of chat bots out there you can choose from, so they could have it be an automated AI chat bot that comes across sounding very terminator like and robotic or you could inject some personality into it. Toss a couple of notes. isn’t all of a sudden like, someone’s like, oh, man there’s a person that developed the communication behind this. It’s not just AI talking back to me, but there’s a coder behind it, who understands how do people communicate. So one of the things that really solidified that for me was I went to their conference a few years ago, back when traveling was a thing. And they very much showcase their personality at this conference, they wore hoodies, they were bumping hip hop by a live DJ during the breaks. I mean, they were doing things that were just different than you would expect. And also their product isn’t cheap. Their market is decision maker marketers, so those aren’t necessarily going to be things that you would think. You’re probably like, Oh, these are people that are need to make big ticket purchases and are high up in an organization, we need to be buttoned up wearing suit and tie. It’s like no, a lot of them pretty well came from where you’re at right now and would much rather be in a hoodie listening to some 90s Hip Hop. So they understand their market, and they did a good job of just being who they were, and not apologizing for it. And basically, you love them for it, or you didn’t like it for it. But I don’t think that that risk, had as many issues as most people would think if they do show a little personality. I mean, I don’t see anyone saying I’m not gonna go and get dressed because they like hip hop music. I mean, that would be absurd if someone said that. So I think that that’s an example where me and for me, where it solidified. Have a personality. have some fun at work. You’re doing this for multiple hours every day. You might as well.

Christian Klepp  11:30

Absolutely. That’s such a great example. And I think it just goes to show that, um, that there is this trend, and it’s been it’s been going on for, I would say a bit longer than we would expect, but it’s, it’s companies like Drift and others that are pushing back against these. I will say this, these accepted norms or things that the establishment as we’d like to call them have, have set forth and said like, Okay, this is the way it’s supposed to go. And clearly not just because of the pandemic, but because of all these, like these shifts within our respective B2B Industries, right, that have been happening for a while, I suppose the pandemic just accelerated that considerably. So five years of changes within the past 12 months.

Sam Kuehnle  12:16

Exactly, definitely shifted some things around.

Christian Klepp  12:20

Sure did, sure did. Speaking of Drift, I like to get your thoughts on something that I read online, and that was an article on the Drift website. So like you said, big B2B company. And they wrote… this article talks about, like, a couple of things that they, they believe, from their own experience on B2B companies can do to humanize their brand. So the first one, which is no big surprise is authenticity. I think we hear that one often enough. Number two is being personable. So like you said, in the past couple of minutes getting to know your audience on a personal level beyond this, the standard information.

Sam Kuehnle  13:02

Yeah.

Christian Klepp  13:04

Opening up, real photos of people versus just images of products or the inside of a facility or a picture of an open laptop with data on it. Sorry.

Sam Kuehnle  13:17

I see that way too often I’m laughing at you because I’m thinking every other ad is. But it shows our product. I’m like, okay,

Christian Klepp  13:24

Pretty much. And this is, the fourth one comes up a lot going beyond the personas. Right? So it’s, okay, developing those target personas based on data and based on research, but what are you doing beyond that, Right? And then the last one, which would seem like a given, but sometimes people do miss the mark there too – committing to the customers. So creating a seamless experience across the different platforms. Yeah. So what are your thoughts in the above? And is there anything you’d add?

Sam Kuehnle  13:57

I completely disagree with all of it. Totally kidding. No, they’re spot on. (laugh) I mean, it’s all spot on. And it sounds like they pulled a lot of that from their use case and figuring out how did we make this work for us. And there’s probably list of things that we tried that didn’t work. So authenticity, we mentioned earlier, people are highly attuned to you being real and fake, they are wary of businesses in the beginning. So just be authentic and sound like a human, you’re gonna get a lot further than trying to use a bunch of business jargon. That means nothing to someone.

See, being personable, and say, when you talk to your audience, when you know them at their personal level, their personalities, their values, you can translate that into the copy. So again, they’re spot on here. I mean, nothing to push back at.

The opening up one was interesting to me. So using real photos of people. So we’re in this new digital zoom era, we’re losing the ability to connect when I am with people on a personal level, you and I just had issues with video starting up on this. It was because of my computer didn’t start up. But we don’t want to have the conversation till we can see each other face to face because there’s so much that gets lost in translation if you’re only doing audio. So much, you need to see how people react. And there’s so many other cues that you need to follow. And just having someone’s face versus an avatar makes such a difference on something like a chatbot. So it’s reminding you, hey, there’s a person here. It’s not just some robot that’s talking back to you. Like there’s a person that hopefully cares on the other side of this conversation.

What was one of the others… committing to customers. So I think an interesting thing with this is how does a user come away after they call in to talk to your sales team or your support team. So I’ve got an example where we’ve got two dogs, and there’s a pet brand called Chewy, they start every conversation asking how my dog Bentley is. They know his name, they’ve got it written down in their software, I know that this isn’t their CRM, they don’t all know my dog’s name, but just that little touch of personalization and wanting to care to know that makes a big difference. And then randomly throughout the year, whether it’s holidays coming up, or some just random day of the week, we’ll get a handwritten note from them. Just saying like, Hey, thanks for being a customer, we really appreciate it. Here’s a dog biscuit. Little things like that go such a long way. I mean, neither of those take or cost more than what five cents to do, or sorry, stamp plus five cents for the dog biscuit. But that’s gonna tie someone so much more closely to your brand, because they’re investing in the relationship. And that makes you want to reciprocate back. And you know, there’s other places that I could get my dog medicine and dog toys from, but I’m gonna go back to them because they care. I can see the people behind it. And they clearly have the same passion for dogs, animals. Whatever the thing is that you’re buying from, they’re able to share that in a way that you can really relate to. So I think that’s something where you should think about that as a takeaway is, take off your marketer hat and be an end-user of your own product service, whatever it may be. When you buy your products, what comes to mind when you think of your brand. I mean, if you perceive anything that you think needs improvement, you’ve already got a little bit of a bias there. Imagine how that comes across to a prospect because that’s amplified. So I think that’s a good reality check of, gut check is would you buy your own thing? Are you walking the walk and talking the talk? Or do you just hang out have some hopes and wishes that you could aspire to but you’re not executing on?

Christian Klepp  17:29

That’s a really great example. And I mean, to your point about like, I think empathy is one but putting yourselves in like, putting yourself in the customer shoes and thinking like, Okay, if I were in that situation, what would I be looking for? How would I respond? Well, what are my expectations? All right, when I’m engaging with this company, and what have you. And I think your story is such a great example of like what happens in B2C? What is easily… what could be easily transferable, at least in concept in the world of B2B. And I’ve got another story for you just another, just to drive that point even further home. Um, so again, this is back when we were all traveling, and we were all flying in planes on what and whatnot, I think was 2015. So I was flying from Vienna, to Helsinki, in Europe, so going into Finland, and the stewardess was pushing the trolley in the middle of the aisle. And just asking people if they wanted some refreshments, right. And she was saying it in English and Finnish and Swedish. And then she got to me. And she’s she looked at me, and we’ve never met each other before. And she said, moechten Sie was zum essen haben? which is the German for would you like something to eat? And I was a little bit taken aback at first. So I mean, I’ve responded, but it took me a while. And then she just kept on going. And I’m like, well, how did she know that I speak German. Right? She probably they were probably trained to look at the passenger list. And they looked at the nationalities of each of the passengers. Alright. And if their flight attendants spoke that language, even a little bit, right, then they would make the effort to go and speak to that person in French or Italian or in English and all that. And, and for me, that was like, to your point, that was such a little, for me such a small gesture, but that spoke volumes about their dedication to customers.

Sam Kuehnle  19:21

Yeah, 100% I could not agree more with that. It’s the little things that usually make the biggest impact. It’s not, hey, we’ll give you a 20% discount because we care. It’s… Hey, we noticed that you’ve got some German heritage, like, I’d love to speak with you in your native language, if that’s what it means just connect with you a little bit better. Like that’s what’s gonna go farther than shortening a contract price.

Christian Klepp  19:43

Yes, exactly. Exactly.

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.

We’re not going to talk about the pandemic, I promise. (laugh) But I mean, short of stating the obvious, you and I are having this conversation on zoom, and we’re doing a lot of things online these days. But when we’re talking about, like humanizing brands for B2B, what are some of these changes that you’ve seen in the past 12 months or so as a result of a pandemic? And how do you think these changes will influence the way that B2B companies, I hope, at least will review and improve the way that they’re humanizing their brands moving forward?

Sam Kuehnle  20:54

Yeah, it’s definitely sped things up. I think the biggest thing is, it’s really forced companies to rethink their digital presence. So we don’t have events, your sales reps aren’t traveling to in person calls. So those touch points are now going to be replaced with online interaction. So you could have had the best swagat events previously to get people to come by. You could have had a highly persuasive sales rep, that once they get on site, they’re able to close deals. How do you do that? How do you stand out and show that when you’re online now? Or are you going to blend in with everyone else? So we found that companies that have their leaders adding to the voice, adding their voice, to the conversation are seeing growth at higher rates than those who continue to hide behind their company page. So that’s a simple way of injecting a little bit more personality where you can take something like the rep that was great on site, how do you amplify his voice online to that same community, so he might not be going and selling to the VP of Marketing anymore for his piece of MarTech. But he can start a community on a place like LinkedIn where he can share his thoughts, he can start conversations and bring in other like-minded individuals to really get things going. So I think that’s been a place that’s really differentiated some of the companies that are doing well and embracing that, versus some of the others they’re long established, they have their processes and CEOs. He’s not interested in adding to that conversation. So it’s a completely… it’s a personal preference, there’s no right or wrong. It’s just a trend that we’ve seen, and those that are exceeding expectations. That’s a commonality where they’re bringing the community to them when they can’t go to the community at a conference.

Christian Klepp  22:41

Yeah, it’s certainly a bit of an art and a science, isn’t it? Right? There’s no definite answer, at least from what I’ve seen, but there are some specific like, I would say, guidelines or suggestions about how you can do it, but certainly everybody, like to your point, it really boils down to Okay, what’s that organization’s cultures like? What are their long term objectives like? I mean, is this even part of their overall game plan or not?

Sam Kuehnle  23:10

Yeah.

Christian Klepp  23:11

And it does take a little bit of a mindset shift, right? Because not everybody in the B2B world agrees that humanizing the brand doesn’t necessary. Right? Great. Um, this is one of my favorite parts of the interview, because this is when a lot of the guests get up on their soapbox, and rightly so. Commonly held beliefs, conventional wisdom, I mean, everybody has them, every discipline across the different spectrums has them. But when it comes to humanizing, or adding a human touch to B2B brands, talk to us about one belief in that field that you strongly disagree with, and why.

Sam Kuehnle  23:53

Yeah, some of the fun one. This is definitely more of a belief than a lot what a lot of people will vocalize. But you’ll see that a lot of people think if you have a point of view or an opinion, it’s going to be unprofessional. And it’s going to lead to PR issues. So you can’t do that as a company, you have to avoid everything be very bland vanilla, however you want to describe it. And I think a lot of this has to do with just the current day and age we live in, for lack of a better term and outrage culture where the point 000.1% of the population who has an issue or a problem with something, it’s easy for them to share their thoughts in a public forum, and then that’s going to get amplified by the platform, the media or whatever to make you think that that belief is held by the majority of the population. But if you’ve done your homework, you should also know how does your audience really think? What is your ICP think? How is their personality? What do they value? And usually, they don’t have a big problem with your voice. I mean, if they’re already bought in, they’ll let you know. But there’s a reason that they’re called the silent majority. I mean, they’re not gonna speak out and be like, No, you’re wrong for saying that. They’re just gonna sit back and like I don’t have a problem with what they say. So that’s what leads into. I mean, don’t be scared to show some personality or have an opinion about something. Common sense will tell you when you should probably hold your tongue on a specific subject as you would just an individual, like, I’m not gonna have certain conversations with my CEO about a personal life. You should probably follow that same procedure with your company if you were to tweet or post about something. So it’s not as fine of a line as I think some people would have you believe in going back to that Drift example. I mean, test it, play some Hip Hop at your next conference and see if people like it if they’re bobbing their heads, or if they’re shouting and outrage, which I doubt will do, but until you know you won’t, or until you try, you really, you really won’t know. And I think that that’s something that the reward is so much greater than the risk that you’re missing out if you don’t at least give it a shot.

Christian Klepp  25:44

Yeah, absolutely. And, as they say, I suppose you could say there’s a time and there’s a place for for those kinds of actions and initiatives, and I guess it is also about timing. But to your point, it’s also about like, okay, um, you’re constantly holding back and not taking the first step, and you’re waiting to see what happens. That’s probably not the right move either, especially in a competitive marketplace. Yeah. Right. Fantastic. Right, and leading off from that question, talk to us about one thing that you think people should start. And one thing that people should stop doing when it comes to improving and humanizing their B2B brands.

Sam Kuehnle  26:23

Yeah. So this one ties into kind of just how is the buyers journey, the purchase process changed in recent years. So to start, I would say, start sharing more educational and free content, people are going to associate your brand as helpful, they’ll remember you for the topics that you associate yourself with. But if you continue to go with the outdated model of, hey, we’ve got all this great content, we have this super insightful resource that you need to download, you have to fill out this 10 step form, 90% of your traffic isn’t gonna fill out that form, they’re going to bounce, they’re not going to remember your brand, they’re gonna have no idea of what the content is that you hold, that’s going to unlock all the mysteries of solving their business. So if you open that up, I mean, 99% of your market isn’t actively buying right now. So why would you want to withhold that and thinking of the long term when hey, budget season’s rolling around in four months, let them consume the content, they’ll come back when they’re ready. So it’s a 100%. Without a doubt, in my mind, I always say start sharing free content, there’s no harm, like, who does it really harm if you gate it, or if you don’t gate it? It’s so easy. If you need contacts, you can go and buy contact email record from zoom info for next to nothing. So that’s why we say like, what’s the real reason that you need that email address? Or why don’t we just play the long game, and build out our audience and have more people who when they do raise their hand ready to sign up for a product or buy a product, they’re going to go through the process a lot faster than someone who… Yeah, I was curious about that eBook. But I’m not actively evaluating buying anything that’s it’s a waste of their time. It’s a waste of your reps time, and it doesn’t create an overall a good relationship experience. So just let them come to you when they’re ready.

Christian Klepp  27:59

Amen on that man. (laugh) And speaking of sharing, free and educational content, I believe your company is guilty as charged, when it comes to that, right.

Sam Kuehnle  28:10

Yeah, we, we drink our own Kool Aid. We, we everything that we recommend to clients, we test ourselves first, we’re not out here saying you need to try this. We think it’ll work. It’s tried and true methods that we’ve done. And it’s like the good leaders who wouldn’t assign anything to it or delegate anything to people underneath them if they wouldn’t do it themselves. So it’s kind of a similar process where it’s like, we have the data in the back why we want to make this decision. So hopefully, you understand and are willing to try that with us.

Christian Klepp  28:39

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s all about practicing what you preach, right?

Sam Kuehnle  28:44

Mm hmm. Absolutely. So…

Christian Klepp  28:46

Fantastic. Sam, I mean, this has been a really fantastic conversation so far. I mean, so many great insights. And thanks for sharing those with us. And

Sam Kuehnle  28:55

Yeah, absolutely.

Christian Klepp  28:56

Please do us the honor of introducing yourself and pondering this. You got to tell us what a professional soccer player, a physical therapist and a psychologist having in common! (laugh)

Sam Kuehnle  29:10

I’ll tell you what I actually do first, and then I’ll tell you my pre-career aspiration after that. So, professional career currently, as you mentioned, so I work at Refine Labs. I’m a director of demand generation there. Basically, we help B2B SaaS companies transform their demand marketing programs by focusing on what matters, revenue with the way that buyers actually by today, so just helping to get them into that new model. As for personal aspirations, so you mentioned all those in the beginning. But, when we all … what is it… usually in high school. We have that fun. What’s your career aptitude test? Or like, what should you be doing for a job? So my big ones were always I played soccer through college, so pro soccer player would be phenomenal, but I’m not part of the point 00000.1% that make it to that level, so I had to give up on that one pretty quickly. I’m big into health fitness, how the body moves. Physical therapists would be pretty cool. Yeah. Or psychology. So I ended up majoring in psychology after my department head was like, if you take one more psychology class, you can get a minor in it. I enjoyed going to those classes, they were interesting to me. So how does that tie into Director of Demand Gen for B2B SaaS, right? Like, that doesn’t really have a…

Christian Klepp  30:23

That’s a logical step. Isn’t it? (laugh)

Sam Kuehnle  30:24

Like, you would think so. I mean, I love playing soccer while I talk B2B SaaS. But now it led to three kind of big findings for me. So the first is teamwork and discipline. So that’s gonna lead to a lot of success in soccer. If you get along with your teammates, if you get along with your coach, and you’re disciplined to get the job done, you’re gonna see success. 100% translates to any role, any job, understand what you need to do, and work with the different teams, sales, customer success, customer support, or the clients that you work with, that’s gonna dictate if you’re successful or not.

Physical therapist. So this one was an interesting one because of personal experience. So in high school, I had a stress fracture in my lower back. I found this out, because I obviously had a lot of pain in my back, but I went to the doctor, and they’re just like, hey, stand in front of me. So I’m standing in front of him, he looks down at my legs. And he goes, do you notice how your right knee sticking out a little bit? I go, Yeah, he goes, That’s because your left leg is sucked up a half inch higher into your hip, which is caused the stress fracture in your back because it’s compensated. So that’s why I say how do you tie finding problems and delivering solutions into that. So understand the root cause of something, if he was able to see the hip is what’s causing the back problem, because of the way that my legs tucked up higher. If we can get that addressed, your back’s gonna feel a heck of a lot better. I’m focused on okay, I need to ice my back and make it feel better. So how do we get to the root issue? And that’s kind of similar to marketing where, how do we figure out what do we really need to drive as a company in terms of revenue? What’s the goal? And how do we work backwards from that?

Then psychology, empathy. So there’s a big link between that I mean, as we mentioned earlier, put yourself in just other people’s shoes, feel what they feel. Understands what’s it like to buy your product, you’ll get a lot further if you talk to your customers and just evaluate as an end user, instead of, hey, our products great, you should come by it. And I’m just going to set up this perfect landing page experience with the red CTA, because that’s what data suggests is going to lead to the best conversion rates. You have to put yourself in their shoes to understand what’s successful, because things aren’t gonna translate by role and industry. There’s so many factors. But if you just talk to the people and, work with them, you’ll get a much better insight than any data back report you’ll ever find.

Christian Klepp  32:40

Yeah, yeah. First of all, there was a fantastic background story. And I loved how it all somehow interconnected, right. So you got the let me see if I got it right. Teamwork, finding the root cause of the problem and empathy. I mean, likely transferable skills, as you said, right. So fantastic. Thanks for that. So what’s the best way for people out there to connect with you?

Sam Kuehnle  33:04

Yeah, As I mentioned, I like to post semi frequently on LinkedIn. I usually target two to three odds out every week. So you can find me on there.

Christian Klepp  33:12

He’s being very modest. (laugh)

Sam Kuehnle  33:15

But as you called out earlier, I have a very unique last name. So if you just search me Sam Kuehnle Refine Labs, it’s very easy to find my profile. There’s not too many with Sam keen leaves out there. So I should pop right up to the top. And I love having just conversations and comments. If you have questions, thoughts, anything we can do to help, please feel free to reach out or engage.

Christian Klepp  33:35

Fantastic, Sam, this has been an incredibly informative session. So thanks again for your time, but man, I am not gonna let you go so easily. (laugh) You know that you’re gonna have to answer a question about European football or soccer, right? So particularly around Liverpool FC. So buckle up, here we go. So rumor has it that the club is close to signing a deal with RB Leipzig center-back Ibrahima Konate. What are your thoughts on that?

Sam Kuehnle  34:07

Anything at this point, we’re so injury plagued to the… I mean, we’re down to people that are in the reserves are playing half the time. So if they’ve got the money to do it, they just have to think long term. How’s that gonna play out? If they are they gonna do a lease? Are they gonna do a multiyear agreement? So I mean, they’ve got a good backline when they’re all healthy, so it’s not gonna mess with chemistry or not. But for short term, they’re sitting for being top of the table last year and now where they’re at. I mean, they’re in a they’re in a tricky position to get some wins.

Christian Klepp  34:39

Absolutely. Absolutely. I appreciate your opinion. I’m going to run it past Juergen Klopp.

Sam Kuehnle  34:45

I’ll probably have a much better thought than I do and articulate it well, well beyond what I just said.

Christian Klepp  34:54

Sam, once again, thank you so much. Take care, be safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Sam Kuehnle  35:00

Yeah, thank you. It’s been fun.

Christian Klepp  35:04

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.