In this episode: Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing at Vidyard, joins us to share how marketers can better understand and empower their sales teams! How does your role as a marketer change depending on the product your organization sells? How can marketing teams get actively involved in sales? And how can you leverage video in your sales process to start crushing your quota? All that and more next!
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In this episode: Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing at Vidyard, shares how marketers can better understand and empower their sales teams! All that and more next!
Joseph Fung: Today we’re speaking with Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing at Vidyard. He is an Engineer turned Consultant recovered back into revenue-generating roles. And he is a huge proponent of marketing and sales being on the same team. And today you’re going to hear some of the ways they make that happen. You’re really going to enjoy this. Stay tuned.
Welcome to seller’s journey, the podcast where we speak to great sales reps and leaders and share their real stories from start to sale success.
Joseph Fung: Hi everyone, I’m Joseph Fung, and today we’re speaking with Tyler Lessard. Tyler, VP Marketing at Vidyard Marketing Leader Podcast Host, you’re a fearless 50 marketer. Welcome to the show.
Tyler Lessard: Hey thanks so much for having me, Joseph. A pleasure to be here.
Joseph Fung: I’m really looking forward to the conversation. We in similar circles and getting a chance to hear more about your story, is going to be so much fun.
Tyler Lessard: Yeah I’m looking forward to it as well. You know I’ve had an interesting journey to say the least over the last 15 years or so of my career here in my hometown of Kitchener Waterloo just outside of Toronto. And I’ve learned way too many things to keep to myself and hopefully can save some of you from suffering from the same war wounds. So excited for the conversation.
Joseph Fung: So before we start at the beginning of your journey, I want to kind of rip the band-aid off with a question that some of our audience might have. you’re a VP of Marketing not classically characterized as a Quota Carrying Sales Rep role, but having you on is a is kind of a very deliberate reason you shared a couple of comments about sales and marketing being on the same team could you start off by helping me and the audience understand, what you mean by that?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah I’d love to. I mean I am a huge proponent of this notion that in particularly in the in the B2B world, but I think business everywhere is that marketing and sales and frankly product and other core functions of the business need to more than ever operate as an integrated team. and not just aligned we talk a lot about sales and marketing alignment, which I think is important for a lot of us to think about and get started with, but to be really successful in today’s world, marketing and sales have to be truly integrated I think marketers need to think more like sellers because we’re responsible for so much more of the front end of the buyer’s journey than we have been before. And I can dive into that later. And as sellers I think they need to think a lot more like marketers because people these days don’t want to be sold to, they want to be educated, they want to learn and they want to work with somebody that they can trust to find the right solution for them which I think is sort of classic things we look to do as marketers. So I think those are some key tenets to how we need to operate today and something that I think about each and every day in my role here at Vidyard.
Joseph Fung: Okay so if marketers are sellers let’s put you in the hot seat as a sales rep for Vidyard, what’s the elevator pitch?
Tyler Lessard: The elevator pitch for Vidyard depends on whom I’m talking to which is me being a marketer, Joseph, and letting you know how important context is but for you know generally people out there. today more than ever video is an important part of how we’re communicating with our audiences whether we’re marketers sellers or individuals in a business trying to connect with others and here at Vidyard, we help individuals and businesses, take advantage of the power of video to communicate and collaborate with their audiences and to ensure they can use it as a strategic way to stand out and generate more business for their company.
Joseph Fung: Love it and I know that we see our students and our recruits using Vidyard, all the time in their lessons and their outreach and their careers. So I’m doubly glad to have you on the show today because I’m sure they’ll be tuning in.
Tyler Lessard: No that’s great. And you know it’s been really exciting to be a part of this business over the last few years because we’ve gone through starting out as a very top-down enterprise sales oriented organization. And we built you know this video platform that we would market and sell into enterprises top down consultative sales process and that was really successful for us but over the last couple of years we introduced this idea of this freemium, and kind of product led growth side of the business where we’re helping anybody and everybody adopt a free tool for video recording and sharing so that they can start to get going with video very easily in today’s world and then build up from there. So it’s actually been really neat both as a marketing and sales leader of course myself living in that world where we now have this hybrid of thousands and actually hundreds of thousands of individual users using our products, in addition to you know the thousands of enterprises that we work with it’s a really fun environment to be in.
Joseph Fung: Nice, so you know we know where you are now. If we rewind to where you started, you studied engineering and started off as did I guess right? as a data analyst. Can you tell us about the early part of your journey?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah it is true, I am an engineer by trade, I went to school at the University Of Waterloo for systems design engineering and started my career as a yes a Data Analyst, I did a lot of database work, I worked at SciBase and Deloitte Consulting and a few others. And I really started and launched my career though at Blackberry, back in 2001. It feels like an eon ago, when you know the there wasn’t even Smartphones at the time this was back when even Blackberry was still data-only devices before the Smartphone revolution. And I had a chance there starting off in their developer community group supporting third-party application developers, but eventually I found out that I was much better working with people and communicating with people than I was actually coding and developing software. Which I’m more than freely happy to admit. so over that time I really built out my experience running a developer relations program and then ultimately working with partners across the globe on how they can build solutions for our products and then of course how they can help go to market along with us and actually market and sell their solutions along with blackberry in the field. So it’s a great experience there and a big shift from actually writing code to running an organization that was responsible for driving direct sales.
Joseph Fung: So thinking about that role that responsibility, very often that kind of channel or alliance or external relations role is you know to a certain extent a Quota Carrying Role whether it’s bonus or variable. Can you help the sales reps in our audience understand what those rules are structured like? How does a quota carrying role in an alliance’s side of things actually look like?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah so we were a channel aligned organization and the business development leaders within my team which were equivalent to account executives if you will. They had their group of partners whether they were services partners’ application or technology partners that they were responsible for and responsible for working with them to drive inbound sales for our organization. So those individuals had targets and Quotas based on the amount of either direct or referred business that was being generated through their partners. and that was an important distinction because some partners that you work with whether you’re a Blackberry or any other organization are going to be able to clearly account for direct revenue they may be actually reselling your products or services or registering opportunities with your team and doing co-selling and in those cases you can easily align to a direct sales number. In other cases we had reps that were managing partners that were influencing opportunities in the market. They weren’t responsible for direct sales, but they were helping us crack into new organizations, they were helping us build awareness and new opportunities into new accounts that they may have already been working with. And so we had to build a model that accounted for both and made sure that those influenced opportunities weren’t being missed when looking at how do we actually compensate and recognize some of those people in our team.
Joseph Fung: Okay so I we’re developing a good round understanding of channel, alliances you know that people side of marketing. So far in our story, your resume has Deloitte, Blackberry. But then you move on and join a startup. Can you can you share with us how that came to be? And what triggered that change?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah I mean I had an amazing 10 years at Blackberry. I had a great time previously at Deloitte and Sybase and some other larger companies. And at the end of my tenure at Blackberry, I was looking to jump into something new, something that was I think a little bit more nascent and where I could be a part of really developing and building solutions. And I ended up working going to one of those partners that I worked with during my days at Blackberry who was a startup in the mobile apps ecosystem and joined that organization as CMO responsible for both marketing and product and that was a really interesting initiative because much like my role today in that organization, they were critical to sales obviously sales couldn’t sell anything without a great product. And they needed that support from marketing to build their brand they were selling into government agencies largely US Department of Defense agencies in fact. And so it was you know a very interesting experience. But it also taught me that at different organizations you know the sales team needs different things. At that company they were very product dependent. So as a marketing leader, I could help them. But when they were selling into government, it was more about the sales and the product. And if the product didn’t do, what the product needed to do, it didn’t matter how good I was as a marketer. And so I put more attention into the product side of the organization again collaborated with the sales team and for those of you in sales roles out there you know how important it can be to be collaborating with, your product team to make sure that you’ve got what you need in market to sell. So I think that was a really big lesson learned. Whereas in other organizations you know sometimes the marketing side is more important the product is always important. But you got to pick your battles and figure out what does sales really need to be successful in their space.
Joseph Fung: Now that’s a nice parallel with earlier on in our conversation you mentioned how Vidyard was launching that more product driven and freemium offering. So why don’t we step forward?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Into Vidyard, what was the story behind you moving from Fixmo to Vidyard? How’d that come to be?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah so after a few years at Fixmo, I was looking for again a new opportunity and got introduced to Michael and Devin Galloway, the co-founders here at Vidyard. And this was about six and a half years ago now. and as I started speaking to them, I fell in love with a number of things certainly the market they were in you know recognizing that video was going to be such a critical part of how we communicate in business and with my previous experience and in all that I had done, it was very easy to see the trends and the importance that video was going to play. So I felt like the product was in the right space, they had a great and strong and very successful early sales team. you know at that time it was only about 35 employees. So it was pretty early stage. But also… oh sorry… go ahead…
Joseph Fung: As I say, so early stage 30 or so. How large is the organization now? Just so we can help people see that journey?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah so we’re just over 200 people now today. So in those six years, we’ve certainly, you know, grown substantially and obviously our market has grown significantly. And you know there’s been a lot of you know great reasons why that’s happened. We have a great partner community as well which was something else that that drew me into Vidyard early on they had very strong partnerships with companies like Salesforce and Oracle and Marketo and Adobe and others. And so it spoke it spoke volumes to see a small company like that having such strong strategic partnerships in the market, which I knew meant we could scale things faster. it didn’t and that we didn’t have to hire 20 new sales reps to you know to increase our sales by a significant amount we could leverage those partnerships to create scale while also having our own direct sales team. So I think those things together really worked well for us. and you know here we are today as you mentioned in an interesting brave new world where we’re not only driving more and more enterprise sales directing through partners but also building out this product led growth and Freemium strategy to feed our sales engine organically.
Joseph Fung: So that sales engine and feeding it. Early on when we were speaking you mentioned how yeah I think the words you said, I’m part of the sales team. Can you share us more? You know what does what does that mean? And maybe you can give some examples of how you’re actually involved in deals?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah so there’s a few things that maybe I’ll share both from how the marketing team thinks about it because all of you out there on the sales side I encourage you to sort of bring this mindset in when you work with your marketing team. And also I would do this myself. So first of all I think the reason why marketers need to think like sellers and be integrated with the sales team is because we are often now responsible for a huge part of this buying journey today. Because the way people buy has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and even in the last few years now. So we know that the majority of people, who end up buying something from Vidyard, spend the majority of their buying process online you know self-service, not talking to sales yet but in their own discovery and education mode. They’re looking at various solutions in the market, they’re going to our pricing page, they’re attending our webinars, they’re watching our videos right. all of those are means for us to walk them through that buyer’s journey whereas many years ago they would have called the sales rep and had those conversations so we need to be thinking about that and so I really push even our own marketing team to be thinking not only how are we educating and converting people through that buying process but how are we building a relationship with them which is exactly what a good sales person would do right a great sales rep knows the importance of building a relationship of creating rapport with those individuals you know whether or not you know they’ve learned something or whatnot the power of relationship matters so much. So as marketers we think about that a lot and we work with our sales team to think about are the things we’re putting out there doing that are they building relationships with people before they even come in the door. So I think that’s a really important foundation for marketers in general and how we need to think like a great sales rep.
Joseph Fung: I think it’s a fantastic perspective and I agree with it entirely putting kind of putting on the hat of a skeptic let’s imagine we’ve got a really jaded sales rep, who’s listening into this and says well that’s great that’s nice and fluffy. But I’m gonna call BS on it, you know just Tyler or any of his team of marketers do they actually show up on sales calls, you know do they have to handle that interaction with the customers. Does that happen?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah oh absolutely, absolutely. And frankly probably not as much as it should or that I would like. But you know we absolutely, I personally will get on calls with our sales team both to help them in a supportive fashion, in the selling process. Because I’ve actually I have a role to play there in terms of my knowledge and understanding of the market. And so I can be there to help guide conversations and speak as a thought leader. Yeah.
Joseph Fung: So, if we can, okay, you’re on that call, let’s flip it on that hypothetical skeptical sales rep. what can they do to make your time and contribution most effective? Because if they’re pulling in the VPN marketing, that’s a big title that’s a heavy expensive meeting. What can they be doing to make the most of your time too?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah so there’s the obvious things that i think anybody would do to you know prepare ahead of time, to provide some great you know close notes on you know the opportunity and what their interests are. But I’m most interested not in what product features they’ve said they might be interested in, what excuse they’re going to buy. I’m most interested in the problems they’re trying to solve. And I think that’s when you know if I get a briefing from a rep that says, hey here’s a customer and they’re looking at these three products and we want to convince them to buy. Right. I’m going to be like, I’m not going to be great help in this conversation, but if you come to me and say, I’m talking to these guys and they’ve they’re trying to solve this very specific problem here, where you know a b and c. then I’ll come into the conversation being able to of course anchor off of that and be a trusted you know genuine spokesperson that comes across as someone who’s helping them solve a problem not trying to sell a product. And I think that’s a lot of value others in your organization can bring. Because as a seller you know it’s I hate to say it but there’s always going to be a bit of that stigma that you’re trying to sell them something. and so using other people in your organization, you know whether they’re your marketing leader your CTO your CEO or whoever you’re selling to their peer at your organization, have them come in as you know a trusted third party to be able to explain from their perspective. How you think you can help them solve problems and I think that’s a big win.
Joseph Fung: So I think that’s a great example of how you’re helping out the sellers and acting more like a sales rep and you know how you can have a good relationship there. Your earlier statement had a flip side though. How the sales reps are part of the marketing team? Are there are there any specific examples that come to mind when you when you think about that or when you say that?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah I mean we encourage and help teach our sellers to think a little bit more like a marketer when they are out there even building their own brand. And you’ll actually see a lot of our sales reps out there on social networks, contributing content, building up their profiles, even creating and sharing content around best practices, they’ll share a story of one of their customers who did something great. Right. So they’ll put themselves out there to share stories share ideas as a way to bring community around them and to ultimately foster inbound leads to come into them which is something that’s a traditional sort of marketing tactic and I think we all need to do now to be viewed as sort of trusted leaders who can who can help people solve problems not just try to sell them something.
Joseph Fung: So you know thinking about the team that you have the dynamic you have you’ve learned a lot in your journey you’ve applied a lot of them, if you were speaking to somebody who is aspiring to get into tech sales right now, maybe they’re in another industry they’re not selling software yet but they really want to what would be some of the advice you would give them?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah I would say you know number one is you know seek to understand the needs of your buyers. Right. Do be obsess over empathy and really try to understand what problems they’re trying to solve that’s more important than understanding the features and functions of your product or service, right. So I think understand the problems your buyers are looking to solve obsess over that communicate in those terms and be genuine about wanting to help people solve problems and I think that will go so far in helping you build relationships that let you stand out from those other 30 sales reps that are all trying to pitch to them.
Joseph Fung: I love it I know that I said we’d get you wrapped up within the 20 minutes and we’re getting so close. Do you have time for the rapid fire questions before we wrap?
Tyler Lessard: I would have it any other way, Joseph, please.
Joseph Fung: Okay so this first question, I’m gonna add some constraints on you first. You can’t say Vidyard. So outside of that, what’s your favorite selling tool?
Tyler Lessard: Vidyard Pro. LinkedIn, easily, I mean it’s something that we all use. But LinkedIn is just a LinkedIn navigator. it’s just such a powerful simple tool that I know most sales rep already used today, but it’s just the perfect way to get to know your prospects and customers learn who might know them you know who else is in their organization. So just use LinkedIn you know learn it understand it and crush it on that platform and it will go a long way for you as a seller.
Joseph Fung: Nice. Okay, that’s enough about work-related rapid fire, more personally. Outside of work, what’s your favorite movie?
Tyler Lessard: Oh favorite movie. I’m gonna go with I actually had the chance to watch this with my with my son recently was ‘The Usual Suspects’, which was to me such a wonderful fantastic film, that like really just showcased great storytelling. you know building suspense and the power of curiosity, I think as a marketer or seller I always think about that, I’m like, how can I leave people curious to learn more and just hanging on to figure out how is this going to end. So there you go.
Joseph Fung: Well if you can we have a story like that one you’re crushing it as a marketer, I’ll agree to that.
Tyler Lessard: Wow!
Joseph Fung: Good answer. Okay, last one then. When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Tyler Lessard: I, you know I bounced around a lot i played a lot of sports, I loved baseball, hockey, basketball and I always you know certainly hoped that I could continue on with that. But then I really enjoyed the sciences of life and that’s where they got me into my engineering career. So I would have said the last thing I thought I would be would be a marketing or sales executive. and but you know today my love of all things discovery, my love of science and technology feeds so much in to do as with what I am as a sales and marketing leader. That I really think it was a great journey that that helped me a lot. So here we are.
Joseph Fung: That is great. And I agree everybody could land somewhere where they least expect to be. So it’s definitely a common thread throughout our conversation.
Tyler Lessard: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Tyler, thank you so much for your time. This has been such a great conversation.
Tyler Lessard: Terrific. Well thank you and I hope you all took away at least one or two ideas and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you have any other questions or any other ways I can help.
Joseph Fung: Absolutely. And we’ll be sure to include the link to your profile in the description. So if you’re listening in, check it out there to connect with Tyler and to check out Vidyard.
Tyler Lessard: All right! Thank you very much, Joseph.
Joseph Fung: You too Tyler. Take care. Ciao.