Why Hidden Pricing is Enemy #1, with Allyson Havener, TrustRadius


Despite data supporting the case for creating a more self-serve buying process, many SaaS revenue teams still operate in a way that is legit the opposite of what today’s buyer wants. New report data from more than 2,000 B2B tech buyers reveals what self-serve looks like in practice — and it’s transparent pricing, free demos and no freakin’ cold calls.  

Listen as Lindsey speaks with Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius, about the report’s results and how it’s changing the course for SaaS go-to-market teams.

B2B buyers want the royal treatment (AKA, a B2C experience)

TrustRadius’ 2022 B2B buying trends report has an intriguing title: “The Age of the Self-Serve Buyer.” The report suggests B2B buyers crave consumer experiences, even when shopping for organizational expenditures like software.

In other words, according to Allyson and TrustRadius data, buyers want B2B brands to court them in a different (albeit familiar) way. They want to feel like they’re sitting at home in their pajamas and impulse-buying a Stanley cup. But why is that, exactly?

“More and more millennials and Gen Z are joining the buying committee. They’re coming into places of leadership, and they’re digital natives,” said Allyson. “In B2C [interactions], you have all this product information and customer feedback at your fingertips. You don’t have to interact with people to interact with a brand. And so that’s transcending into B2B.”

In fact, Allyson said 100% of respondents indicated that they prefer self-service B2B buying platforms (up from 80% last year). And that’s not the only wild stat Allyson and Lindsey discussed…

Hidden fees are out, transparency is in

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Allyson’s trick to getting organizational buy-in for direct, pricing-first structures? Discuss the approach’s benefits with your entire go-to-market team, including sales and customer success.

“It’s not fun to be sold to”

TrustRadius’ report detailed the top five resources buyers rely on through the sales funnel — and for the first time in seven years, vendor sales representatives weren’t one of them. Allyson said this is a significant trend away from traditional sales tactics like the dreaded cold call.

“As a marketer, everybody’s dodging calls and emails all day. So… if you think about the sales role in that perspective, and you think about your end customer… and what they really want, well, they want someone that really understands their problem and their use case,” said Allyson. “So, I think it’s much more of this consultative [relationship] versus trying to shove a product down someone’s throat, right?”

Listen to Episode 344 of SaaS Half Full for more of Allyson’s insights.

What You Can Learn From a B2B Mystery Shopper, with Gracey Cantalupo, MentorcliQ


Who here is guilty of building and running a marketing and sales playbook, then delaying any changes because it took so damn long to implement? Often, that paralysis comes from not knowing where to start. Gracey Cantalupo, CMO at MentorcliQ, says to begin with being a good buyer and then return to the start — a process you can complete in a couple of not-so-time-intensive steps. In this episode, listen as Gracey and host Lindsey Groepper discuss how hiring someone to walk your virtual storefront (yes, a mystery shopper!) and actually being on a software buying committee can be worth its weight in gold.

An unbiased third party will (and should!) poke holes in UX

According to Gracey, marketers should involve a fresh pair of eyes when assessing their digital presence. A third party or freelancer is likelier to identify issues because they’re new to the site’s layout and won’t get caught in a familiarity loop. (And, bonus: hiring a digital mystery shopper is relatively inexpensive.)

“You need a stranger to [find cracks in your B2B presence],” said Gracey. “They will click on something, and it will be broken, and you will be mortified — and that’s exactly what you want.” Once the mortification wears off, B2B marketers can address their site’s issues expediently, improving their web presence. 

Gracey provided an example of how this process has worked at MentorcliQ. Not so long ago, she hired a freelancer to comb their website, and the freelancer discovered native videos were offline due to a codec error. Luckily, the team addressed the issue immediately and instantly improved the workability of MentorcliQ’s website.

Gracey has also used this process to advocate for something extremely exciting: a better ad budget.

“This was a few years back… paid [ads were] really great for us at the time, and we were paying the bills with the paid side of inbound, right? And I was like, ‘We can’t do this forever, and I’ve gotta prove it,’” said Gracey. “So, I actually… [made] the business case to my CEO that we need to invest in SEO because the researchers didn’t click on paid ads. They went to organic search first. So…I spent a little bit of money and got a lot more budget.”

“Buy better, sell better”

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Plus, temporarily acting as a buyer can improve sales pitches, encourage marketing innovation and promote visibility into buyer-specific challenges — such as the fact that, paradoxically, buying will often not be a buyer’s #1 priority. That’s especially true if the sales process is unnecessarily complicated or includes unclear next steps.

“[When acting as a buyer], I write ten things down every day that I will try to get done.

And [the next step in the sales funnel] would be on the list. But because… sometimes I don’t have my next actions for that, it moves to the bottom. And it keeps moving. There goes your sales time — that really extends your sales cycle if you can’t make that easier,” said Gracey.

To listen to more of Gracey’s insights, listen to Episode 343 of SaaS Half Full.

Investment Vibe Check: Two VCs Discuss

Investment Vibe Check: Two VCs Discuss ft. Sara Omohundro and David Kerr


This special edition of SaaS Half Full features a fireside chat between two SaaS VCs discussing the vibe of our current investment landscape. Our guests tackle everything from the technologies they’re bullish about to the importance of burn efficiency in defining financial health. According to our experts, it’s healthy to be conservative — but optimistic — about the current investing sitch.

Sara Omohundro, Principal at Elevate Ventures, and David Kerr, Managing Director of Allos Ventures, are experienced SaaS investors who joined host Lindsey Groepper in the BLASTmedia office for an all-agency discussion. Tune in to hear the unscripted conversation from boots on the ground in SaaS investing.

Welcome back to runway season

In 2021, SaaS startup valuations boomed. According to David, many publicly traded SaaS companies traded at a whopping 15x their top-line figures like revenue and sales. Although this created an exciting investing environment, it ultimately proved unsustainable.

“Now, [the investment markup is] below five times — it’s about four. So ’21 was manic; everybody was getting markups and every VC was feeling great, and it was a great time to go raise money,” said David. “[Then in 2022], you… had companies that had a really difficult time raising money, and you had very few that were the highest performing that could raise money and were still getting higher valuations. But 2022 was when you realized you were human again.”

And for founders, “being human” meant returning to fundamental business metrics like revenue and burn rate. Sara said a crucial part of that equation was — and remains — maintaining a solid cash runway.

“If [a founder or company is] looking to raise, they need to think about having enough capital to get them through up to 24 months,” said Sara. “Similarly with burn efficiency, [they must] think through if or when they need to make cuts… But ultimately, you know, when it comes to investing, a good company is a good company.”

“Never waste a good crisis”

Are we nearing a recession? Have we avoided one? Are we already in one? The pendulum continues to swing back and forth. Still, with rising inflation, a tumultuous stock market and increasing layoffs, one fact remains clear: Economic uncertainties have taken a toll on Tech.

But that doesn’t mean SaaS companies are in dire straits. Many have flourished over the past year, meeting and exceeding revenue goals — while others have benefited from a more metrics-driven environment.

“For existing SaaS businesses, it becomes a lot easier to acquire great tech talent in the changing economic and job environment. Another positive change we see… is people have to be a lot more resourceful,” said Sara. “And ultimately, we get to a place where we have more efficient and profitable solutions and products.”

“It’s easy to get sloppy and lazy sometimes if you’re not having your feet held to the fire by certain… metrics. So to me, [this economic environment] forces discipline,” said David.

So, where does that leave SaaS PR?

Marketing and PR departments often bear the brunt of early budget cuts and layoffs. David said this likely stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about how to achieve growth and revenue goals.

“We see more of this (a lack of understanding about PR) in the founder archetype. [They think,] ‘I’m an engineer, I’m gonna protect Product,'” said David. “I think technical founders truly believe that the product will sell itself… And, at least so far in my career, I’ve never come across the greatest product ever…But I think that’s [the misconception] you run into.”

Similarly, the timing of PR can impact the success of marketing metrics and campaigns. Sara suggested that founders wait for brand to become a priority before starting a full-scale PR campaign.

“If the founder has started building that brand on their own, then the PR company can help them expand and grow that brand and refine it. If a founder hasn’t been thinking about that, then it’s probably not the right time yet,” said Sara.

To listen to more of Sara and David’s insights, listen to Episode 342 of SaaS Half Full.

What Marketers Can Learn From Netflix, with Jennifer Griffin Smith, Brightcove


Media companies like Netflix create content to make money, plain and simple. If it doesn’t perform, it isn’t renewed or promoted. With this idea in mind, why are B2B marketers creating video content without expecting performance? 

Jennifer Griffin Smith, CMO of Brightcove, wants marketers to think and act more like a media company. In this episode, Jennifer explains how a successful video strategy isn’t contained to large companies with high-production capabilities, the role of user (customer) generated content and why she believes B2B has a place on TikTok. Are you ready to think more like Netflix? Press play.

Video content is a team effort (in more ways than one)

Lack of access to an in-house videography or creative team may seem like a barrier to creating high-performing video content. According to Jennifer, there are many ways to create relevant content for your audience — with or without these resources.

For example, user-generated content has become crucial, especially since the rise of influencer platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Although marketers may question the value proposition of these platforms to B2B sales, Jennifer encouraged open-mindedness. After all, you never know what content may take off. Still, marketers should ensure they’re creating (and, in the case of user-generated content, distributing) relevant and engaging videos.

The secret to nailing that process may be surprising.

“You can’t just be creating things and throwing them at the wall and hoping that it works — it’s a waste of money,” said Jennifer. “I think it comes down to the relationship [between marketing and sales] rather than who owns the actual creation. To me, marketing leads that go-to-market process; part of that is determining value, determining audience and having the team work together.”

According to Jennifer, when the sales and marketing departments align on a single goal, content is created strategically and used more frequently. In the case of content creation, the ideal destination should be customer interest and, ultimately, satisfaction.

Plus, better alignment equals more sales and happier clients. And smarketing cohesion means fewer pieces of content slip through the cracks during the lead hand-off. But interestingly, Jennifer also cautioned that the lead process has altered significantly in the age of digital-first marketing.

The marketing funnel has flipped

Typically, Netflix users will find the series or film they want to watch within seconds of opening the platform. This is because intent data like viewing history and profile information provides Netflix’s algorithm with enough information to predict what a user is interested in watching.

Similarly, Jennifer said high-performing marketing outreach has become more relevant and targeted. Of course, this is a reversal of the traditional marketing funnel, wherein awareness starts broad before becoming more personalized based on ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and first-party data. Now, Jennifer said customers are more interested in being wooed by a library of relevant, engaging content at the outset.

But doesn’t that go against prevailing knowledge about society’s increasing attention deficit? According to Jennifer, it’s not about buyers’ lack of attention but their distaste for non-relevant content.

“There isn’t a deficit to go and sit and watch a three-hour movie… so it’s not really an attention deficit. I think it’s a time deficit,” said Jennifer. “It’s more about how you engage with [your audience]. And so if we’re thinking about B2B buyers, [content] doesn’t need to be short. It can be a product demo, but it’s something that’s actually giving tailored, personalized and valuable information. So maybe it’s a product update, but what does that mean?… Can you have a customer come in and talk about it? Can you add interactivity into the video?”

To listen to more of Jennifer’s insights, listen to Episode 341 of SaaS Half Full.