Welcome to Rankwatch’s Marketing Lego thought leader interview. Today we will talk to Klaus Knops, Founder & CEO of KVP Solutions, about his journey of creating a successful digital agency with a good customer retention rate. We also talk about CRMs and Customer Retention tips, and more to find out what that is.
Hey everyone. And welcome to Today’s Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. My name is Harshit and I’m the director of the Business Alliance of two amazing marketing saas tools, Rankwatch and Websignals. And today my special guest is a highly experienced consultant, helping people and organisations to achieve digitalization using softwares, founder, and CEO of KVP solution.
Plus a big welcome and I am so happy to host you.
Klaus, please tell us a bit more about your journey. How were you as a child and how did you get to where you are today?
And then that was when my step brother came to Turkey. So he was born in Turkey. I joined Turkey school, first, second and third class. That’s the reason why I’m talking perfectly in Turkish. Yep. I have been educated on the Quran and on the Bible that shows you that I’m very open minded on religions, on everything.
From this point, that was a big experience. I grew up with three languages, English, Turkish, and German, and had a very open mind in this part. We came back to Germany and I started working in different, let’s say jobs first as a construction area and I got an education in Bosch for mechanical engineering.
I went to the military, I had eight years of military service. So I was in the special forces in Germany and the military. I have been transferred into Italy to Nia DEO, which is a NATO base OTAN base, for nationals. I have been spending four years over there and was responsible for 35 Italian employees and American, British, Italian and German employees, and learned the language very fast.
Meanwhile, I also had an education and Techon, so I’m quite a professional Techon fighter. I was German champion, European champion TaeKwonDo, and had my TaeKwonDo schools. What formed my capabilities to talk to people to be sensible was people to educate, to grow people. So that’s the base where I come from, and then I started my professional career in different places in Germany.
I have been living for 60 years. I am now 60 years old. The first of March was my 60th birthday, 60 years. Wow. And more than 30 years of this life, I have been spending abroad. So I lived in Singapore. I lived in Spain. I lived in Turkey, as I said, I lived two times in Italy and Mexico and Brazil and Chile, different places in Germany. So that made me a little bit cosmopolitan. Yeah and it was always in the construction field. So whatever construction, you can imagine I was in, into that and leading positions on very, very big companies.
It can be seen in my CV where I have been but the most impact for me was that I was always looking to improve processes and how to make the process somehow more effective. And this brought me cause, my company KVP 23 years ago. So 99 and from there I did management consulting. So implementing processes, implementing software, implementing certain things and, all over the world, by the way.
I found out that the best way today to do the implementing of new processes, the effectiveness of processes is using the right software and that made together with my son, we have different companies. We have a company which is called digits. We have a company called FTO. We got a company which is software advisory.
We got a company which is in its solutions, in partnership with another company in Australia. So this is all about software, software advising, software implementation, you know, those kinds of things from very big ERP systems, as far as SIP as for HANA is concerned, Oracle, , CRM systems, FSM systems, and some other programs.
Gotcha. So please tell us a bit more about it, because you have got so many sister companies under KVP right. Please tell us a bit more about the objectives that these sister companies saw and your vision with them.
Yep. Which is very stiff, I would say very stiff because you talk to people, you talk about. What are their sales? What is their logistics? What is their whatever? So, you help people to improve those kinds of things. Cause this doesn’t make you a specialist in marketing. So, we did digitals as a special digital marketing leads generation company, you know, which we are using as well all over.
So we do not only for software companies, we do that for coaching companies. We do it for companies like SixSigma companies for people who are doing the automotive certifications, so in different applications, because once you know, what is elite and MQL and SQL. How to generate that with the multimedia you have as possibilities like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram sales navigator, the email marketing with inbound-outbound, with SEO, with landing pages.
So then you can create value for someone which is not management consulting, which is a different place. So, and since my son comes from the SAP side, he was 10 years a leader in SAP, in Germany and in Singapore. I associated with my son 10 years ago and we created all these companies together.
So it’s not just my point. It’s the combination of software and program genius. On this hand, a 34 year old youngster, my son and myself. I would say process guru, like the Dyna area. So we combined all this, both things, and this is a very strong tool because we are talking to different generations and different, let’s say education levels, different languages.
Definitely. Definitely. And that’s very brilliant. Do you have your own core set of expertise then coupling the expertise of your son together and expanding that’s very intelligent. Please tell us a bit more about the team right now. You know, how many people do you have and what exactly does the hierarchy look like?
We are talking about digital marketing. We are talking about 30 people. Then we have the FTU, which is the FSM application. We are talking about another eight people. Then we are talking about software advisory, another seven people, and then we are talking about solutions. Then we have 240 people in total.
Wow or 240 people, just consultants doing implementations of software. They are mainly outsourced, let’s say insourced because they are on our full payroll in India, in Sri Lanka, in Indonesia, in Malaysia, in the Philippines, in Australia. So all those people are experts in different fields of implementation of software.
Gotcha and as a KVP group like who is an ideal fit as a client to you?
It’s a people coming to. They have a problem and we solve the problem, but we are going ideally to main contractors. We are going ideally to facade manufacturers, window manufacturers, door manufacturers, all over the world. So this is KVP, 30 years of knowledge because I have been in this field for 30 years.
So I know nearly everyone, which has any relation to certain aspects of. I have been the founder of a normative institution. So nomination institutions in Mexico and Germany and Spain and Brazil. So I know many, many people in this field. I know the most largest competitors because I have been working for the largest competitors, which are today.
My competitors sometimes created a kind of, let’s say relationship that I’m respected and they respected for myself. So this is our target field where we offer our services as KVP with software and with process optimization and we’re into the digitals. We are talking about the windows.
I’m talking about young Delaware, KA GITT ATO. So it’s a very, very big, you know, reseller of SAP or Oracle or HubSpot or Salesforce. These are our customers regarding digital marketing.
Gotcha. Gotcha. What tools do you use for your own consulting firm and for your sister companies, which ERP or automation or CRMs that you personally use and prefer?
And of course, when we do the entire marketing and lead generation and social media, everything is done with HubSpot. So email marketing, everything was HubSpot.
Gotcha. So like, because you are partnered with HubSpot and you know, you are a diamond partner of theirs. HubSpot basically spreads a lot of word and emphasis onto inbound marketing.
So your company, which is involved in traditional marketing, does that deal with only inbound or do you still practise outbound practice?
So everything is done with our company. Oh, the full marketing group. We do SEOs, we do Google ads, we do media ads. Everything is done with this and we control all that with it.
Oh, nice. Brilliant. I’m just curious now, like you know, when you get a new client on board, which common inbound or outbound practices do you actually get into at an initial phase?
And then I know you must be exploring terms of other options, terms of new strategies, what are those common few things that you get started and, you know, warmed up with?
So what they feel, what is digitalization for them? But what is our offer is that we, first of all, list what people want to achieve, whether they want to have a, a target market, just a small bunch of companies, they want to concentrate and they want to go really deep into it, or whether they want to go with a pumpkin and say, we would like to have an industry full scale research and full reach to this industry. So that’s totally different.
Yep. I agree. But what enterprise level client and say something where you have core expertise into the construction business, right? What about them or a large size client you get on board? What tactics do you go after at an up with nation?
And every problem has different ways to tackle that. Yep. True. And, once we have understood his problem, Then we go into the process. What is your actual process today? What are you ready to change about that? Because I’m also educated as a change manager. Yep. So that means we do the coaching change management and consulting approach.
So it’s not only one approach. We listen like a coach. We ask, we ask a question like a coach. We lead people into it, like change management and we consult with our knowledge. Gotcha. But consulting always comes last because first before you can consult, you have to listen carefully.
That’s true. I completely agree. Because one of the biggest things is, and I wanted to know your, based on your experience, how you deal with it. When any organisation tries to adapt a new system, right. Just to optimise any of their processes, it could be anything. The change always causes a lot of chaos.
There’ll always be, like tons of internal employees who will face issues of adaptability of the new system. How do you deal with that?
So that means first is the information. Informing people that something is going on, what is going on, why it is going on to get the buy of people? Then you have to get champions into it. Then you have to train people. Then you have to do further events. Fate. Cultivate success, you know? So because if you do not show success and if you don’t make a party, whenever it happens.
People feel like it’s normal. And why would I work my a** off? Sorry for the language, you know? So they would like to get involved in it and whatever part you make, whatever success you produce, how you communicate to the entire organisation. This is key. That’s a very important point to get everyone onto the boat because you have always in the organisation, 1, 2, 10, 20, which say I don’t want, or I can’t.
So you have to get them on board and it’s not an option to throw them away. Sure. Yeah. And this is coaching because many times when I’m really not getting further with certain people which are blocking the process, I put my ladies coaches into the pot and we get one to one or group meetings with coaches.
Really two or six coaching meetings, breaking the eyes and then I can do the change management again, and then I can do the consulting again.
Gotcha. Any other hindrances that you face, any common challenges that you face while implementing a new solution in an organisation? Apart from the adaptability issue that we just don’t.
Do this step and then say, oh, let me wait one more year or let me wait two more years. So the number one is time. The second is the Z one who is running. It knows exactly what he wants because there are a lot of desires. Definitely. And I can see it in many organisations. They just built islands.
So they get, they get the budget a hundred thousand bucks and say, okay, buy a CRM or buy a FSM, or do an upgrade on ERP. But they don’t think about the entire process in the company. So they build new islands. They have no connection from one to another software. And then you have a problem that you have multiple data entries.
Not everyone has access to everywhere and people get frustrated. Yeah. And the third part is definitely teaching education. So time. Knowledge of what to do and then education. So training, training, training. I know I started a long time ago. I did an Excel course. I was really good at Excel. I was programming with Excel.
I was calculating everything. I didn’t do Excel for two years. I didn’t know anything anymore. I had to start again. And then a new version is coming, so I can’t find the right button at the right place. Yeah, you’re out. So you have to do continuous training. That’s very important and closing your experience.
Right. How do you go about that? How do you go about that diagnosis? And then, you know, coming up with the perfect tool because you actually partner with so many tools and give them that solution all together.
Tomorrow. It’s already out. So it’s just a photograph. The perfect time is a photograph when you achieved it, but you may not achieve it even. Yeah. So that’s number one. And what is the possibility to get people? Closer to this, doing a nice request. So a request form, leading them through the questions you wanna bring and then show options, because we are not a vendor of SAP.
We are not a vendor of HubSpot. We are not a vendor of whatever software. We are providing the right solution to the right application, to the right budget, to the right people. So if you look at these different steps, you will never make only one suggestion. So you give options. Yeah. So you collect the data, you say, okay, from this 200 possibilities, there are five, which are matching more, less to you now let’s choose together.
Yeah. Because once you put it on, Support on top of a head. He feels like it’s put on my head, but once he selected by himself, he says it was my choice.
I think clause, one more thing that I would like to know your opinion on was a lot of like even the entry level companies have started to adapt CRM and these automation tools altogether, you know, at a very entry stage, or it was more about mid size or large company.
who is kind of putting down their budget and investing into a system, but because more and more companies are getting into it in your experience, what are the common mistakes that you see companies make when it comes to using CRMs and Automation?
So you want to have a sales force, which is a flagship and you want it, you know, because everyone talks about it. And to say, yeah, but my organisation cannot really handle it. Number one, price wise, number two, complexity wise, number three, from the functions, which are not really dedicated to the industry completely, what we many, many times do is there are many different softwares in.
FSM and CRM and ERP not that much, but they are free of cost hub sports. Now our FTU, you have a startup package. It’s free of charge. So you start building your knowledge, you start smelling, tasting, touching it, and then you say, oh, it’s easy to handle. I like the, you know, UI and these are certain points in there which is more to my industry because you can go to the butcher and you can go to the baker, the butcher needs something different than a baker.
Yeah. So if you don’t have the specifics, he doesn’t feel at home and you have to make this kind of thing somehow with small, you know, slice and tights, appetisers, you know? Yeah. And, we are friends. Spending less money starts slower, but then getting the right stuff rather than going for one big hundreds of thousand or millions of investment, and then five years implementation.
And after five years, it’s already not up to date anymore, you know, so step by step. Gotcha. Got even for larger organisations. So we did that for, for a really large organisation, like 4,000, 5,000 people, implementing CRM systems, FSM systems. We said, why don’t you start with one department first and then you have your master drivers and you have your people who know it and they can start bringing it into your organisation.
So it’s better. They bring it into organisations and we bring it. We can do that together.
Gotcha. Close. One more thing. Like, you know, it’s a bit off context though, but other main things that any business suffers and anyone who’s doing marketing and has different sales departments in their organisation is to build a good synergy between.
Talk to the bottom of the funnel activities, any tips that you can share based on your experience that can help companies bring that in line?
But the expectation was that we would do it for six months. Inbound-outbound lead generation and awareness campaign. So we started and we said, you know, in the first months we are not going to do anything because we just do the setup. We are doing the setup of HubSpot. We are doing the email setup. We are doing the sales navigator setup.
We are doing which industry, which stakeholder, whatever, and then they came on and said, yeah, but we have in 14 days we have a webinar and we want you to promote that. We said, no, it’s not, it’s too early. We are not yet ready. They pushed us to do that. And they wanted us to do the right post. Then we did the post and they came up and said, yeah, but the post doesn’t look like we want.
So, it’s not our expectation. We would like to have a lot of pictures in it. A lot of whatever. and we said, yeah, but if we do then a mailing campaign, the opening rates, the bounce rates, it will suffer. No, no, we want it this way. And finally, in general, we said, you know, what do you do marketing by yourself?
We don’t want to do that because it’s not gonna be successful. It was a big contract, you know, but we said, no, we will fail when you push us into a way, which we don’t believe. We as the experts, you came to us to make your marketing. Why don’t you do your marketing by yourself?
Yeah, it makes sense.
Makes sense. That’s actually very wise and, you know, a lot of agencies kind of, work away around, even though it doesn’t suit them well and work for the companies the way they want the marketing agencies to act and which is not wise, to be honest, you should always see what’s best for your agency as a client as well.
You should do your scrutiny instead of making your workforce life, you know, miserable and yours too. Like, let’s be selective about it. It’s fine. There are always ways like, you know, don’t find synergies and which is. Normal. Right.
We were supposed to do marketing lead generation campaigns, but very specific, you know, on, on very specific industries, very specific size of companies of very specific, software parts, only parts and we were bringing leads. So we brought like 10, 12 leads a month, which is big on it because every contract for this league is a million, 2 million, 3 million.
So we really bought big. And I said, no, it’s not in the right city. We don’t have so much impact in this city in India. Uh, oh no, this is somehow not the right size because they’re a little too big. Oh, now it’s a little too small. So we talk about bands. The band creation was done and then they went around and said, cherry picking.
So this will not work. It will not work. I think you cannot change the rules of a football game during the 90 minutes of a football game, you know? Sure.
True. And even if like, this is much more related to the targeting and that’s something like a very initial exploratory call your agency must be doing.
Right. Setting up the right, right audience. And I’ve spoken before right about it. So, yep. Makes sense. Let’s talk a bit more because you know, you are so much into training and coaching, right? How do you basically help companies convert leads to the actual clients? So what do you think? So the enablement process looks.
An MQ is not, not a sales qualified lead, so it’s just known from intent data or from cookies or wherever there was an interest. Yeah. But still, you don’t know. As they are going to have this interest in the next three months, six months, nine months, 12 months. Do they have a budget? Are you talking about the right person who is a decision maker?
So, how many licences would they need? What is their pain point? So from marketing qualified leads, you go to sales, qualified leads, but then you have to get this sales qualified lead. Also being interested to talk to you or to your partner for whom you do the lead generation. They may say, no, we don’t want to work with company X because they are famous.
They are expansive or they’re famous. They are complicated or whatever. So it’s that you have a sales qualified lead, but it’s not a sales qualified lead. Yeah, sure. So it’s very important to first make a differentiation. And once you talk to your client, you really have to make sure what your band is. What is the expectation?
Yeah. So this is the number one clue. Otherwise you are just getting shocking, you know? And to qualify, first of all, you need people who are qualified. So when, when my callout centre, we have different call out people in India and Philippines in Malaysia and Australia, Singapore, Germany, Colombia, Chile, and maybe some other things.
So when this is called out, people get a new task. First they need four weeks of education. So what is the service or the product? What is the band? What are the industry specifics? What are the stakeholders specific? We are talking about CEOs or CIOs or CFOs. Because everyone has a different language.
So you cannot just pick up the phone saying hello, sir would you need the ERP system clock to hang up to. So you have to get engaged. You have to know you do research on the internet, on the website, on Google, on LinkedIn. What is the person you’re talking about? How long is he in the position? Why is he in this position?
So get a circumstance, get intercommunication with people. That’s a very important point. You have to engage and then you get to pain points. And when you get to pain points, you get to so, and this is a success factor of our company, because most people or most companies, they use only callout centres.
They give a five question script and if they answer all, yes, it’s a sales qualified lead. But frankly speaking after the second question, I say three times more. Yes. Just to hang up.
Yeah. I Completely agree with you on this trend because when the point of contact isn’t well educated about the product, they definitely do not know how to tackle the incoming, small script.
Wouldn’t just cut it. Especially when you know, the product value is high and those scenarios are definitely like, you know, you need to know inside and out. So, yeah. Makes sense. One more thing since you have been in industry for so long, the consulting business has been like in business for around 23 years.
Now, please talk a bit more about the most successful case studies for your business, where you have helped a business reach all new hype with consultative and coaching.
Okay. Product base, but not on the software. It’s on the products. Okay. The product, which is the profile, which is a window, which is a facade, which is the door, which is the hardware. So here you have to have in the case study, first of all, the deep knowledge about the product base. And the industry, and then you can make a case study.
So what is the regional or the global demand on those kinds of things and what are the competitors doing? So you use the case state study based on this, and then you get people. Doing exactly what it’s needed to be outstanding, because the most important thing is to be outstanding in this part. Yeah.
If you are doing software, it’s not outstanding. It’s to be at the right time, at the right place with the right people to make the right statements. It’s very much different if you talk about the hardware or window or the product or software. So the case study in software for us we have beautiful case studies where people have been working.
I’m taking an FSM case study. Just simple. We got into a company that said we are now 25 people in installation, maintenance and service. And we have grown from 7 to 25 and we are really crazy about the paperwork. And we do not know anymore. Who is who and where? And does he have the right capabilities to do the job?
So we said, So why would you need to change anything? Hmm. And the question was what he wanted to do. Make it more effective. Interesting. There there’s many things that use Excel. You can do more effectively, but he said, no, my effectiveness came because my suppliers asked me to do reports. And here’s a very important case study.
It’s not that you make a small team more effective, it’s to get the entire team more effective. So today, he’s doing the work of insights clarification only with one person before it was three persons and he does two installations a day or services more because he can plan as well, servicing, which are coming like there’s a door not opening and he is very close to it.
And he gets a signal on his mobile. Yeah. And he can go as well over there on the way back. So he does more work. So the case study is not with Excel, planning, or something. Hmm. Also the reactive part you act and you can react Fastly. And this is a very important point. The action and reaction answer, reporting to see suppliers, to make it a circle that makes the success being.
Somehow a big case study, or if you look into CRM systems, we had a consultant company, just a small consultant company, five people. He said, I’m doing like 7,000, 8,000 email marketing months. I don’t know who opened my meds. How many times he looked at it, whether he went to my website, I cannot track all that.
So this was like cold outreach.
Just curious. What tools did you advise him?
Oh, thanks. Very and, and very effective, very cost effective. And for him, he was 20 times more efficient, 20 times. It’s bling. Yeah. So these are so small and I can talk about big ones, but case studies, you need 30 minutes, 40 minutes of a story to build up, you know? Yeah. But you can see only with small syncs, you just scale it up for big syncs.
It’s tremendous. Yeah. We have a multinational company, a very, very big company. They started with one unit of the installers to do the installation with our FSM system. And they got direct connection to the ERP. So we got a connection to the ERP, which is not that easy. Usually. And we got the reports back and forth up to the invoicing and the after sale service, they realised that they have a potential to do that.
Not only with this company to do it with 218 more companies. So just imagine they got with one company five times more efficiently and how many hundred times more, five times.
That’s brilliant. Any horror stories that you would like to share? Another lesson that you learn?
I’m sure, like so many years that you have spent with your and coaching there will be something or some horrible incident that happened.
Yeah, on the total landscape of the software. So we are talking about SAP, for HANA. We are talking in different branches in China, in India, in Russia and wherever SAP business one, we are talking about, implementation of HubSpot. We are talking about implementation of laboratory software. We are talking about different, different scopes.
So it’s a real, real project. And we have been working with these guys very hand in hand. For nearly 18 months. And then they bought, got bought by an American company. Okay. And a new hat and he said for the time being, we are going to solve that with only Excel and oh, that’s horrible. Can you just imagine, and as a company of 3000 people, you know, all right.
All right. So this is something you have to put in a lot of effort. You have a lot of trust. You are already nearly into the implementation and then suddenly comes and changes your mind. Cut. This is Waterloo. a lot of investments, a lot of very beautiful moments and then nothing. Well, and this is also consultancy.
Yep. A lot of marketing consultants and, you know, agencies face troubles like these like it’s way too common now. Like, even in past experience I’ve been involved in tons of marketing agencies and, it happens like all of a sudden everything is going fine. Campaigns are running smoothly, posting good results.
And all of a sudden, some of the other factors resulted in the total shut down of the operation. And, you know, you’re just sitting there and wondering what exactly happened and trying to get the client back. But sometimes it’s the end of the road altogether.
But that’s something I learned in my 30 years career until 23 years of consultancy.
Don’t try to get people back either they come back or they better stay away because you try to get some back. You are going to be the loser that’s the way.
I think clause, let’s do a quick, rapid fire. Are you ready for that? Sure. Yeah. What motivates you the most?
Oh, nice. At what age were you the happiest and why?
The best level you can have.
Yeah. Nice. Nice. What career did you dream of having as a kid?
Oh, and you did, you travelled so much?
Happy, Realised it. Nice, nice. It’s a blessed life then. One word that describes you the best?
Yeah. One word that describes you.
And what’s your next big goal in life?