The Voice of Cyber®

Episode 122: Asaf Katz
First Aired: August 10, 2022

Asaf helps cyber security and SaaS companies land their first $1M ARR. Asaf has tackled this challenge for his own companies and multiple clients. He has co-founded education, software and telehealth businesses and is now working with Cyber security, InsurTech and automation startups in Israel, US and Australia. 

Struggling to get sales results in his startup in 2013, Asaf had to figure out that “marketing and sales thing”.  As a Major in the Israeli Air Force in a Cyber Security Unit, Asaf has learnt that nothing is done without proper intelligence. He quickly realised the current marketing and sales approaches lacked fundamental elements to be effective.

So he developed a framework that has allowed him to land for his own companies and his clients over $46M in revenue, win multiple awards and unlock growth for clients globally.

Asaf is the Co-Founder of Cannvalate, Managing Director of Ducere Global Business School, Faculty of Cyber (acquired), and is working with public and private companies globally.

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Episode Transcription

These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text.

Introduction (00:29) You're listening to KBKast, the cybersecurity podcast for all executives cutting through the jargon and height to understand the landscape where risk and technology meet. Now here's your host Karissa Breen. Karissa (00:45) Asaf. Welcome to the show. Now, you are all the way in Tel Aviv, out of Israel, and I'm keen to have you on today because, one, I've known you for years, I followed your journey. I like the way you approach things. I've seen your content on LinkedIn, so I'm really keen today to dig into a few things that I think the industry does need to hear. But before we do that, we always like to start our podcast off for talking about you and your journey. So please walk us through where you started and where you are now. Asaf Katz (01:15) Yeah, brilliant. Thanks so much, Karissa. Thanks for having me on the show. And, yeah, I've been knowing each other for a long time. I'm glad we can finally get to do this. So I started my career in cyber. Like many Israelis, I joined the Israeli Air Force and basically it wasn't cold cybersecurity at the time, it was really just the beginning and they were just looking for people who kind of knew how to deal with, basically computers not working right. So from there, it was really amazing opportunity for an 18 year old to basically figure out how to approach information security problems, cybersecurity problems. And probably as a testament to that, a lot of the people that were with me at the time are now founders, CEOs and have created very impressive companies like Safe Breach or most recently, Cider Security. Both siders were in the same unit. So it was a really great opportunity to kind of understand and learn and figure things out on your own and deal with budgets that in no shape or form such young group of people would manage. And then for me, I didn't want to kind of continue directly with the cybersecurity path. Asaf Katz (02:46) And shortly after I left the army and I kind of want to get into education. I was always really big about what education can do and how the impact it can have on people's lives and people's views. And I was very disappointed from almost every institution, every education system that I took part of. So I moved to Australia in 2013 and I really wanted to get into that was kind of time with all the whole elearning and moves and courses, if you remember, kind of really boomed, and I run to get involved in that. And I was fortunate enough to join as the, I think, probably eight or nine employee of a company called Ducere. And the premise was pretty similar to what masterclass, you can really learn from experts. And I joined the CEO and we grew quite rapidly. And Karissa, I really thought that I'm going to be dealing with education most of the time, but when the company grows so fast, most of your day goes into sales and marketing. Yeah. And to be honest, it was never something that I took interest in. I never wanted to get into sales. I had no interest in this, but I had to figure it out. Asaf Katz (04:11) If you want to grow a business, you have to know what's going on. And we hired really great people to help us with this, but obviously I needed to understand what's going on. And I remember one day when it was still all sort of like really blurry to me. I was in some sort of a lecture, just talking about storytelling and education. One of the approaches of how to make education more interesting is combined storytelling. And then I think somewhere in the same week, I went to a marketing course because I was educating myself and they were talking about storytelling. And then it was like sort of an AHA moment. It was like, well, it's really the same thing, like marketing and education, that's how it really should be done. I remember that moment because I was like, okay, we really need to rethink how we approach things because we were selling to universities, we're selling to students. There's a lot of activities there. And then that sort of created a snowball effect for me when I really started looking at education and marketing as really being the same thing and the go to tool for everything that I've done. Asaf Katz (05:21) And since then, I've created a cybersecurity education company where we created content for universities, for institutions who wanted to teach cybersecurity and didn't have the materials. We created that, and a lot of the materials were acquired by universities in Australia and the US. And a few years later, I created one beginning to telemedicine. And we saw medicine cannabis that was booming around 20 15, 20 16. So just to kind of give you an idea of how big I was on education being the foray for marketing, I started a company called Campbell, which is today's telemedicine platform for patients to access the DC categories in a research institution and a little bit of an investment fund at the moment. All of that started with a conference company and courses company that created around the DC cannabis. So I wanted to get into that space, and my way to get into that space was just to start educating the market. And immediately it not only taught me a whole lot of things, but it just sort of positioned me as sort of one of the go to people in Australia at the time because I just knew everyone and I got to access everyone, and every time I wanted to sell something, it was through education. (06:53) So that's sort of been the journey up until COVID. And for me, COVID was for my family. As I said, I moved to Australia in 2013, and for me, my family, 2020 was sort of a pivotal point where we kind of needed to decide whether we're going to be staying in Australia. COVID hit. It was a period of a lot of uncertainties. We said, okay, let's just pack our things and move to Israel for a while, be closer to the families. Being in a lockdown in Melbourne was less than ideal. You didn't even have access to playgrounds and all that. So we spent some time in Israel, and here in Israel, I started consulting, sort of back to the roots, working with a lot of my friends who own and run cybersecurity companies as vendors. And you just kind of see the same things, you just see the same issues around how vendors now approach sales, how they approach marketing, how it's all sort of the same techniques from about 20 years ago. How when you have technical founders who are absolutely phenomenal in what they're doing, have the complete opposite experience when it comes to actually selling their product. Asaf Katz (08:21) So what they do these days in the last two and a half years is working with vendors to help them to accelerate their sales process, build their marketing team, build their demand generation processes. And it's been absolutely amazing. Karissa (08:39) Wow, I love that. I like the story how you spoke around when you're working to serve the sales and marketing component of it, because I think a lot of people just assume that they build a product. They don't have to do anything in terms of sales and marketing. I think it's fallacy that people buy into a lot because their products excellent. And it may be excellent, but it may not be at the point where people are going to hear about it necessarily. So you mentioned before about some of the same old things that people do. What are those same old things that people are doing? Asaf Katz (09:15) Firstly, what you just said is super important because it's a philosophical difference between what is a product, the way that people see products, and the way that the market sees your product. You think of your product as your software, as your tools, whatever it is that you coded and delivering. The market sees your product as your company, your content, your leaders, your views, your philosophy. Or don't they buy into your philosophy as a business leader? And what I think that there's too little emphasis on is bringing in that part, especially very early on when your product is clunky and it fails and you don't really know how to sell and you don't really know how to really speak to your audience. There's too little investment in, look, this is what we're trying to do. We think that this is wrong and we're working to create a world where this doesn't need to happen or where people don't do this, especially if you're developing an AI based tool or decision support mechanisms and anything that will bring in efficiency. There's usually a philosophy around what people should be doing and what machines should be doing. And I think there's too little emphasis on expressing that because that could really open up doors for people nodding when you talk about that and then say, okay, well, what else? Asaf Katz (10:42) I want to hear about your product, because now I agree with you. You don't really see that level of authenticity in a lot of startups. We just see like, hey, we have developed this feature and that feature, and this is better than that vendor. And all that is fine. But you know what I mean. Karissa (11:02) Why do you think that's the case, though? I would think as a founder of a startup, you'd be more authentic. I'm curious to hear, like, why people aren't being authentic. Asaf Katz (11:13) Well, it's a good question. I think it's just a matter of how people perceive the reasons why people do business with people and how this purchasing procurement decisions are being made. We tend to think that if we you know what, it's even a question of how much you stretch your thinking. Right. If you build your product trying to be 20% better than what's in the market, it's very different to I'm building the product, my product, so that that area would not even exist. Right. Think of cars. You need to know how to really run the engine and operate the engine of the car. No one knows how to do that. I don't think I've opened my hood since I bought my first car. Right? So things really change. Why do people want or don't really think about authenticity? I think they just don't really understand the difference that this could make in their business if people buy into their philosophy before they buy into the actual product. I was interviewing a founder of a company called Trellis AI, and I was asking a bunch of founders. It gives them the challenge. Like, if you had to start a business right now and you're trying to sell the businesses, and you wanted to validate your idea within 30 days and you had no money, no product, no team, what would you do? Asaf Katz (12:48) And the first thing that he said was, I would build a vision. I would try to get people to buy into my vision. Because when people buy into your vision, they're going to work with you to try and fulfil it. And I thought it was very clever because that's what you lead with. And I think that's probably the main difference. Now, why do people actually don't sort of lead with that? And continue to pump with that. Well. It's probably because the results are not as immediate as in when you put out an ad somewhere and you can see the number of clicks and number of leads and the number of demos that you're doing. That's much more immediate than to say. Well. I've spoken in these twelve conferences and 20 podcasts and I've sort of said the same thing and preached all over and then wait whatever. 30 to 180 days until you start hearing back from people. Hey. I've heard you over there. I really agree with what you said about why compliance should be managed this way or why Simsocks should be operating that way. So if I had to summarise it, it's probably a matter of patience and immediacy. Karissa (14:08) Yeah, there's a lot in there that you said. So one of the things I'm curious to know, if people are not buying into a philosophy or a vision, what are they buying into then? How are people selling their product just on technicality functionality? Asaf Katz (14:23) Unfortunately, yes. If you look at the typical sales process of most vendors, here's what it looks like. You usually have an SDR doing an outreach through some sort of an automation tool or buying lists or just blasting every CISO they can offer or directors. And once in a while they're going to get an appointment and they're going to hit their monthly quarters and they're going to be facing the cycle and they're going to be trying to show them, hey, what are you trying to find a problem? Try to see what they're using in the moment, here's what you do in the moment. Here's what we could be doing better. And then basically, the general sales cycle of chasing them, trying to get the PO, tried to negotiate a deal and then chasing and chasing and chasing. That's kind of like the typical B2B cycle, especially very early on. And I think it's pretty frustrating to be in that situation. Karissa (15:37) It's beyond frustrating and it's just so I feel bored like the whole process is just wrong. Okay, look, you're obviously very direct when it comes to this. I'm incredibly direct. So I'm just curious to know why do people keep doing this? I've been saying this for years. We've got to change our strategy, but yet people feel the need to do the same stuff, which isn't even that effective anymore. This is what gets me. So I want to know from you, with all the experiences that you've had, especially where you are in your side of the world, there's cybersecurity pop ups on every corner where you are. So I'm curious to know what should people stop doing immediately, as in after they hear this and what can they start doing? Asaf Katz (16:28) So I think if we kind of want to talk bottom up to start to fix the things from probably the symptoms and going to the core, right? So the first thing is if what I've just described is what you're doing, then you got to stop having these week opens. What I mean by that is you've gone through all the trouble and you got yourself an appointment or a demo with a cycle and you're putting in front of them the SDR or the account executive, basically the most junior person that is in your company because you're thinking about efficiency rather than efficacy. You've already got the time of someone who is incredibly busy and is a very well paid individual and they're giving you 15 20 30 minutes and you're putting in front of them someone that they can immediately see through their lack of professionalism when they're talking technical and very sophisticated and very direct people, they really don't have that time. So I think that especially if you're A if you're early on and B if something's not really working, you got to have very senior people on the call founders, product owners, product directors, just open as strongly as you can, make a really good first impression, make them feel like they've actually received some value. Asaf Katz (17:58) And I see that, I see that all the time. When there's a founder going on a call, on a sales call, they decide to go oh wow, congratulations on all this success. Amazing. You can see the approach changes just by having so very important and to think that it's probably not feasible for you to go on ten to 15 sales calls because you have better things to do. I think that in these days specifically, I would seriously question whether you actually have more important things to do. If the sales mechanism is not working, what else is more important? So that's probably number one. Secondly, what they should start we should stop doing and should start doing instead is they should try to outsource their demand generation, content strategy, whatever. That just doesn't work. I'll give you an example that I've heard from one of the clients. They've outsourced the creation of piece of content through an institution, a very well known institution, to pay tens of thousands of dollars to create a content piece that's actually generated them with hundreds of leads, right? So on paper really good like marketing outcome, cost per lead was lower than the average but the content itself and the content was probably somewhat interesting. Asaf Katz (19:29) However, that has led to literally zero demos, like zero sales right from these hundred leads. And when I asked internally within the company what did you like? I chose random people from the company. I asked them what did you like most about this content piece? And most people didn't know what I was talking about because it wasn't interesting. It was written by someone else. It was completely outsourced. People didn't remember that it was created and if they did, they remembered something very mild, right? The real content, the real philosophy, the real things that you can say that will make people connect with you are within the company, are inside, like, the corridors in your meetings, in your product meetings, in your sales calls, in your Slack channel. These are the things that you talk about internally, the insights that you're gathering, the understanding that your company already has on the market, the things that you think that are fundamentally wrong in the industry. These are the things that you should talk about. These are the things that you should be promoting. It should not be a game of, how can I find 20 writers who's going to produce three articles per day so that I'm going to win the SEO play? Asaf Katz (20:49) That shit doesn't work. It's uncomfortable to start putting yourself out there, as you know, and I've been following your journey, I think, probably from the start, and with Aspiration, because I'm just now starting to do this for myself, for my own business. But I've always been doing this for my companies. So I know it's like putting yourself out there is hard, but you got to be thinking about this as a product when I'm saying this demand generation. The content that you put out there in order for people to connect with you, it's a product. It's an asset that you're building. It's a following, and it takes time, and it takes time in Tweaking. But if you're going to continue to try to create content for some algorithm, it's 2022. These days are gone. This is the Tiktok period where algorithms are very good at finding what interests people, and that's going to come into Google very soon. So that's the second thing. And probably the third thing that I think of is that people just don't understand specifically. This is a cybersecurity podcast, so let's talk about CISOs. But if you try to sell through the CISOs specifically, then you have to understand the reality that the cycle lives in. Asaf Katz (22:15) They're usually the only ones who show up to the board meeting, and they don't have, like, a dollar value analysis of their budgetary request. Usually they come in with their green, yellow, red charts. And, like, here, it's really hard for a site to quantify the impact of every investment that they're asking for, and they're always asking for investments. And that's why most of the projects that I'm sorry, I don't know if most of the feedback that I'm getting, that for some sizes, most of the projects they're proposing are being rejected or being not prioritised for the immediate couple of quarters, which is kind of like rejecting it. That's a very challenging and very frustrating point for a sizer to be in. So if you're a vendor and you don't know how to add, how to quantify in a way that's reliable and how the ROI on your product, then you're going to have a really hard time getting the year of a CISO. There's companies today who become really good at accurately quantifying them. There's quantifying cybersecurity risk, which is sort of an up and coming area. Specifically, you can look at Kovrr, Kov double r disclosure, they're a client, but kind of giving them as an example of someone who focuses on saying, okay, if you implement this solution, this could reduce your risk by $27 million on average in the next five years. Asaf Katz (23:54) You as a vendor need to help the CISO to facilitate a business conversation within the board. Otherwise the product is just not going to get any traction. Karissa (24:05) Yeah, those are good points, I think, going back on the content being outsourced. So I think, like, for example, KBI Digital does this for clients. One of the things that I've seen in my years is that you do the client when you write content, it's not really about you, it's what other people get from the value. And I often see it's very salesy, it's all about them, which doesn't really add any value to someone, like viewing the content. So I think to some level you do need that objective opinion, but not just anyone. I think also having the background in cyber really helps with companies and knowing, like, what the buying cycles, like, the type of people, the calibre of people, how they buy, how they interact, rather than perhaps like a generic sort of company that really has no idea about the industry. So I think that side of it, that I've seen a difference because I look at this type of stuff all day and some of the stuff that I see, it's just like you're making it all about you. No one cares. But if you talk about the value that your company does provide, that's where it changes the game. Karissa (25:18) And so I think that a lot of people are so focused inwardly on themselves and their own company that they forget that they're actually there to provide a service or product. And so that's something I think people get wrapped up and that's some of the failures that I've seen in my time from companies. That still happens today. So, yes, I do get your point to a certain level, Asaf Katz (25:41) yeah, maybe I would clarify because when I talk about outsourcing, you should definitely outsource the execution of a lot of the content creation. But the strategy and the support needs to come from senior leadership. Otherwise it's going to be like, how hard would that be if a vendor just comes to say, hey, Karissa, can you just generate for us 100 pieces of content for next year, thanks, by whatever your fees we're going to pay, and then never talk to you and just ask for a report once a month? Karissa (26:13) That would be worrying because, look, probably a whole interview on this, but I think that you've got to ask people like, okay, what is your vision? What are you planning to do? How are you procuring clients at the moment, understanding what they're currently doing? And then, as well, you need to adapt to how they operate. What are the types of conversations that are happening in their meetings with clients? What are some of the objections that they're getting? All those types of things go into an overall strategy just to say, I hear some content and good luck and never see you ever again. That's not a good way of approaching it either. But I also think that, especially as a technical founder, I don't think a lot of people think on that level either. They don't even know about a marketing strategy. They don't know where to start, what questions to answer. There's a whole process around getting and obtaining that information. Once you ask people quite pointed questions, they'll answer it, but it's not a conscious decision, so to speak, that they would wake up in the morning go, oh, now I'm going to generate a marketing and sales strategy. Karissa (27:14) I just don't think it's front of mind for them. (27:17) Yeah, no, absolutely. One of the things that I work with clients is before you start broadcasting, you got to start receiving. You have to open your antennas. Like, how are you getting market insights right now? And I'll give you a hint. It's not on your CRM. It's on communities, Slack Channels, Discord, Facebook Group, wherever it is that your customers are actually hanging out. And they don't have to talk about you. They don't necessarily have to talk about don't look for people who are talking about your specific discompliance automation issue. It's not necessarily that. It's whatever it is that matters to them. And that's going to give you a tonne of ideas of how you can weave your story into their world. And if you don't have any of these antennas open, then it doesn't really matter. Anything that you're just kind of like talking without listening. It's literally like, just imagine we have this conversation right now and I'm just talking and I'm not hearing your questions. So what are the chances of me being interesting? And it's really the same thing. And again, I definitely do not recommend for it, especially this is the first time, the first year that you're literally producing content. Asaf Katz (28:42) I think that you should be using some sort of an outsourced agency to execute on that. But it needs to be on your priority list to say, okay, this is a channel that can help me understand more about my customers. It can help me be in the places where decisions are actually being made which is not on your website. Your customers, when they see your ad or when they see your website or your business card in an event and they're interested, they're going to go to their WhatsApp group, their CISO's, WhatsApp group say, hey, have you heard of this guy? And whatever it is they're here on in this channel or on a Slack channel, whatever, whatever it is they are here in these channels, that's what's going to dictate whether they're going to want to talk to you or buy from you. It's not how well, we don't live in a world where you got to have the absolute best copywriter to hook them in the very minute that this is not like an ecommerce play impulse buy. Which is, by the way, which is a really good thing if you're not super confident about how you talk. Asaf Katz (29:46) Because in B2B, people have dozens and dozens of opportunities to get an impression of you rather than having this sort of ad to a website and then you have 4 seconds to press them and get their email. It's not that world anymore. And I take comfort in this. So, yes, absolutely outsource the execution of this, but put that in your priority. Become a part of the communities where people are actually talking about this is insanely important. And you know what, here's a quick story. One of the things that you see these days is that the cost of advertising are just through the roof. I see this on almost all social platforms, and LinkedIn specifically is insane. You could be paying $30 for a click, like searching for a click if you convert one in 100. It's insane. Right? Karissa (30:47) Yeah, that's wild. It's like more than Google now. Asaf Katz (30:50) Yeah, exactly. Which could use for them, but who wants to pay that? So instead, when you put out a post, how much engagement do you get? Insane, right? It's probably going to be in the tens of thousands, in the very least, of people viewing this. And that's free. Karissa (31:07) It's a lot less nowadays. I've noticed that over the years, I think 20, 17, 18, was when LinkedIn was at its real prime and then Microsoft bought it and I saw a massive sort of decline. But it's always hard to tell, right? Like, sometimes if they're tinkering with it, it's good and it's bad. I think it's got to be consistent. Asaf Katz (31:26) Yeah, but here's the okay, so I read a book called B2B LinkedIn Content Marketing by some agency that wrote it. I read a lot in this space and I stumbled upon this book. I really liked it. It was really simple. And I decided to buy it to gift it to some of my clients. So I bought it right home and I posted on LinkedIn, I gave a shout out today to the two authors and so I literally tagged them, right so immediately, a connection that was built and they thought I thought in the morning that they said, thanks for the shout out. So you can literally access anyone that you want. If the context is right, it doesn't cost you anything and they're going to immediately see it. Isn't it insane that I can tag Richard Branson in a post and he'll see it? Karissa (32:21) I think people misuse that, though, at times, and it comes across disingenuous. But yeah, 100%. I do agree with social media is powerful. I don't know why more people. In our space, don't use it. That's what gets me. Asaf Katz (32:32) Yeah, exactly. Another interesting thing is when you try to connect to CISOs World, if you just look at they don't only talk about or talk about cyclists, but I'm giving you them as an example, but anyone that you kind of try to connect with, they don't only talk about their space. There's like general things that are happening that we just had the Pride Week and every contemporary things is currently underneath you will engage with that's a part of what people do. You can broaden your understanding. View LinkedIn. If we're talking specifically about LinkedIn, view it as this one big conference where everyone that you possibly want to talk to is already hanging out there and you can just be there and have conversations with people and at some point, obviously your business is going to come up. Karissa (33:26) Well, I think it's the patience though. So for example, if you've been around 5 seconds as a startup, you're just not going to get the traction like an IBM has. They've been around for years, they've got big budgets, they're well known commodity. And this is where I think, again, people are a bit deluded in the fact that I've done some rudimentary marketing. Like, where are my sales? It's like, yeah, but one, you've been around not very long, you don't really have a trusted brand. That takes time. How long it takes, who knows? It could take years or tens of hundreds of years or whatever it may be. Right? So I think that's a hard question to answer, but there's also a myriad of reasons as to why people don't buy your product. You don't explain it. The amount of people that come to me and say, oh, I spoke to X vendor don't really know what they do, couldn't be bothered to hard basket next. They complicate things. I remember years ago, I was speaking to this guy at a vendor and then this other guy was with me and he goes, just keep it high level, keep it high level. Karissa (34:26) Next minute we're talking about fibre optic cables in the ground. And I'm like, what? How do we get here? Like, straight away, this is in the first 30 seconds we got there. And that is a very common thing that happens. Maybe a product is not that great, maybe it doesn't integrate very well, maybe your sales guy is not great, maybe your price points too high. Like, who knows, right? And so I think that the way I describe marketing is if you start marketing, and I'm not saying you have to go ridiculous to start doing things small like the lottery. Like you're more likely to win the lottery if you buy more tickets versus just one, but you've got to start. Asaf Katz (35:14) Well, I like the analogy, but I like the chances of doing marketing way better than winning the lottery. But you know what, here's a small hack so, yes, absolutely. If you're an unknown brand, it's going to be really hard for anyone to connect with you and your outreach is not going to be really successful. So here's a little thing that you can do. And again, just understanding the psychology of how people respond, right? So think of what happens when a CISO and keep bringing CISOs up. When your clients sees an outreach from you, what's the first thing that they do? Do they need to respond? No, they go to your company's LinkedIn page, they try to cheque you out. They might want to search for something. And there are actually some really easy ways to show that they can buy into your philosophy without you even talking about. So here's a quick hack, right? If you don't even know what you're going to be talking about, you can just create now like five to ten future webinars and all you have to do is just put on the title and an image of what you're going to be covering, right? Asaf Katz (36:31) And if this resonates with your potential buyer, then from their point of view, they'll be like, well, I've never heard of you, but it seems like you're talking about things that are interesting to me that's going to improve the response rate of your strength because it's all of a sudden it's not like, hey, you want to buy my product that you never heard of? It's going to go to, hey, can we talk to you about this? So that's number one. Number two, it also gives your SDRs another reason to connect with them that is not directly sort of bottom or funnel. I want let's go on a demo and a sales call. So that's a quick hack without having like a massive investment in content. Karissa (37:12) Yeah, most definitely. And I think that for a space that's cutting edge, I feel like we're not that cutting edge when it comes to sales and marketing. Asaf Katz (37:22) No, we're not. Karissa (37:25) So I'm curious to hear so you mentioned in those a lot. So I would say we know this, everyone knows this, that they feel rung out from everyone calling them up, like messaging them, like probably stalking their house just to get them to have five minutes with them. I don't know the stalking part, but the other things are definitely reality. So what are some alternative options that people can start doing today to get through to size those? If you wouldn't mind sharing that. Asaf Katz (37:56) Yeah, absolutely. So, first and foremost, I've got like a sales coaching and enablement software doing amazingly well. Went from inception to an age building valuation very quickly. I read that and there's a group that one of the founders who was like, obviously he's probably a billionaire at the moment, but he's in a Facebook group that helps startups. And someone asked him, what do you do very early on? And even they said, look, to get the first client, you have to scream, beg, do whatever it is that you need to do in order to get the first line. Pull whatever tricks you have. It's a hustle game. So I think firstly, just to set the expectations, you're always going to need a level of hustle, right? But that said, I think that what I mentioned just before around just start to create even just topics for webinars, create the presence, show that you're a company that has a lot more depth than the few features that you currently have. Because what the product you currently have that has a set of features is not the product you're going to have in five years. So you got to start projecting what were you going to be and what you're trying to build because that's going to get people to connect with you. Asaf Katz (39:27) That's just going to change things so much for you. And then lastly, remember that the cycle is very challenging. They're the only one who's coming into the board meeting without numbers. Well, it's kind of like a gross situation, but they're the ones who keep showing up with the yellow, orange, red charts and a lot of their projects get rejected, which is really frustrating. They don't want you to become another project that they propose and get rejected. They don't. So you got to kind of listen in and work with them to build the case study. And if you feel that the case study is not strong enough, then you can just call it out and say, hey, you know what, I don't necessarily feel that what we have to offer suits you right now. Do you mind if we talk more a little bit about your operations and see where else could it add value? It changes the conversation, by the way. In general, in sales, your job is not to push your solution. Your job is to find a problem. And if your solution is an actual solution, then you want to sell it. But if your job is not to push and your job is to help them and when you make it about them, it just changes the conversation entirely. Karissa (40:49) Most definitely. I totally agree with you there. Would you say from your experience that technical founders in companies yes, just so hypothetically, they've got a great product, but would you say that sales and marketing is probably the thing they think about the least? The last thing that they think about at all? Asaf Katz (41:10) I think in general, people don't like sales and they don't like market. They kind of see if it's the same thing. They kind of see it's something we wrote the business plan and we need to allocate some money for marketing, there's a level of discomfort because it's easier to write code. That's the reality. And I think they're missed out on the insights that you can actually get by doing this process properly and the compounding value that you get from this. So I think that in general, people just don't like to do these things, just plain and simple. And they haven't been taught that. They just see this as sort of a marginal part of their business. That's probably why we see these things. Karissa (42:01) I get that. I guess it's just more so like no one I mean, there are people who like sales, but I would say majority of people probably don't. But then you don't really have a business. So marketing chums the water, right, to get fish to come to you. And then sales is like catching the fish, for example. So if people think they're not doing that, they don't really have a business. This is what I'm curious about, because like I said, it's that whole build it and they will come. Do you think that's still quite a strong stigma in our space? And then if so, how do we change that conversation? Asaf Katz (42:36) It's really interesting, I think, that we have there's two types of founders, right? They're the ones who come from the industry and their network is so wide, and when they go to investors and they pitch their product, or they've already done this naturally, they can already point to 5720 people that will buy it as soon as they build it. So they just naturally do it because they come from within the industry. I've met a few of them and it's interesting because they do marketing without understanding that they do marketing. All they do is like, yeah, I talked to this guy who's like, he's a cycle here and she's a cycle there, and just gain sites. And you can just see that they're involved in every part of the sales process. After the first few sales, they're the ones who are bringing up and we're showing up in their clients' offices to kind of see how, like, they just do all the things that marketing should be doing because they just are so embedded within the industry. And then you have the others who are not from the industry and they thought that this could be a solution that the cybersecurity space would need. Asaf Katz (43:59) And I think they should invest too little time in building that network. It's not that you can't do it, and there's plenty of examples of how founders who were not from an industry came in and really hit tasks. But there's a process of building your network and opening the antennas that you can get the right insights is what I think people kind of not doing enough and I don't know if there's. Karissa (44:28) So then what are they doing then all day? So I get like, you've got to build your product and you've got to do all that. I get that. But then if that's all you want to do, go and work for someone else, then this is what I don't get. Or else no one's going to sit there and come down from the sky and say, here you go, here's a bucket of money, maybe if they're well connected. If they're not, which most people, if they leave a company and this is what I say to people, just say you're working at the biggest company in town. That's amazing. As soon as you go out on your own, it'll change. People won't want to know you. Then you'll have to earn your stripes because you're not valuable to them. It's okay when you're I've sat on my clients side. People want to know you because they want to sell to you. But then when you're selling to other people, that's where the tables turn, right? And then you've got to sort of earn your stripes again, because you're on the other side of the coin. This is where I think people are really confused. Asaf Katz (45:22) Yeah. So I like to take ownership and responsibility. I think there's a lot of I think a lot of the fold is in the marketing industry, it's really hard if you're not a marketer, it's really hard for you to know what to do. Right? So let's say I'm taking a founder. I know how to build a product, and we build it. And I'm like, okay, I now need to figure out this marketing and sales thing. Like, what do I do? And then you speak so what do you do? You speak to an agency, and the agency will basically I'm not here to kind of offend any agency, but in many cases, what you're going to get is, you know what, you should be doing SEO right here. Do SEO. And we're going to target these keywords and blah, blah, blah. Or you should be doing this pay cap, and there's kind of like a bucket of service. You start to invest in thinking that you're doing the right thing, but the problem is that you're not doing these things in the right order. Asaf Katz (46:17) And you try and Karissa (46:18) see it's the cadence. It's the order. Asaf Katz (46:21) Exactly. Karissa (46:22) It's because they're not from the industry. What would they know? This is what gets me about you're so right. Sorry. I'm so passionate about it. It's like, what would this person know when they've never sold anything in this space? This space is not like selling widgets. You need to really know it to really do well in it, or else it's hard. It's really complex. Asaf Katz (46:47) Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so we inherently look for shortcuts because we don't like to do the hustle and the hard things. So I've seen sales teams scale up way too quickly before there's a proof that the offer actually converts. And I've seen companies investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in SEO before they even know what kind of traffic they want to get. And look, because there's so much what's called godfather, there's so much money out there, and the access to fund has been insanely easy in the last couple of years. You just see this as like, okay, let's just do all the just take all the marketing services and do them all together, but it just doesn't work right. Anything that I've done, everything that I've done because I've always been in the sales side and the marketing side, for me, it was always a mine. That's why it's kind of like weird for me when I come into organisation and I see that there is some tension between marketing and sales and they're not working together. Why would it matter if you get all these leads if they're not being converted? Something's got to change there. Asaf Katz (48:06) You got to start from the bottom. You got to start by having really understanding why people bought from you to start before you scale up, before you spend any money on ads. We get insane pipelines with no spending on ads at all. We're because we operate through organic channels and we operate through contextual outreach where you are talking to what matters to them, and because we humbly ask for advice and help and then if we can help, then we offer a way to do what they did currently do better. And it's a very different approach to, hey, we had to have this and try to sell it and just think of the process, right? We try to start with paid ad. Just the idea of paid ads is so attractive. All I have to do is put up an ad and customers are just going to miraculously flow in trying to buy well, no, maybe 20 years ago when a click cost twelve cents, you could do this. But now you actually have to know your stuff. You actually have to talk to whoever it is that you're trying to bring in. So doing things in the wrong order, I think, is probably one of the things that the marketing industry is not explaining properly and curious. Asaf Katz (49:34) I think that the reason is that it takes thinking. It's much easier to set up an ad and just start to spend. Let's let it run and every week or so, let's tweak the ads, play with the creative. The creatives are important, but they're only important when you know what you want to convert to. Karissa (49:53) So true. And I think it depends, people say, what marketing strategy would you employ? Well, it depends how long you been around. Do you have funding? Do you not have funding if you're IBM? The strategy is very different to a company that literally got born yesterday. So I think that that's what people don't understand and they just follow what the big dogs are doing because they've got so much money to throw around. Makes sense. But that may not be the best bang for buck that a startup can spend their money on. And the other thing is, what I always like to go on about is like perpetuity. You've got content, it's out there, people will find it. I still have people saying, oh, I saw your content from like years ago that you did some presentation that was really cool. So that's always going to be there. But when you're doing these large events and stuff like that are valuable, but probably valuable the big end of town, not the small end, because you're just going to get wiped out by the next big guy with fancy things to give away, which is fine. So I think it's changing the perception on how you spend those dollars and where. Karissa (50:56) And it's not scalable. After an event, people, if they're lucky, remember one to three things and that's it. Asaf Katz (51:02) So, yes, I think more companies can really take advantage of the fact that they're small and agile and other produce content or communicate in a way that's not as polished. It's okay. It's okay if you're not slick. That's not the goal, that's not what it's about. And you can really take advantage of this and reduce some of the constraints that you might be imposing on yourself unnecessarily. Like it's okay to have a spelling error here or there if your production rate is really high. Karissa (51:41) I think that these are great things for people to consider. I think that's why I want to bring you on, to just be honest about it, the reality of what is out there, what people can do differently. I agree with you. I think that it's not one size that fits all people at various levels, different stages. Perhaps they're more mature in their marketing and sales approach than other people as well. But you are right, there is a special way to do it. There's the correct catered timing and a strategy behind it. So really love this chat, Asaf. Really appreciate you coming on today, sharing your thoughts and your insight and your time. Asaf Katz (52:15) Brilliant. I really enjoyed it. Karissa (52:17) Wonderful. And I can't wait to get you back. Thanks for tuning in. We hope that you found today's episode useful and you took away a few key points. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast to get our latest episodes. If you'd like to find out how KBI can help grow your cyber business, then please head over to KBI Digital. This podcast was brought to you by KBI Media, the voice of Cyber.
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