Sangram Vajre, the CMO and co-founder of Terminus, was a recent guest on our podcast, B2B Nation: Smarketing Edition.
In this episode, we discussed:
- How MarTech has evolved over the past 15 years
- The growth and transformation of ABM technology
- Why focusing only on leads has made marketers lazy
- The FlipMyFunnel Festival coming up in Austin
Below are some of the highlights from our conversation*
Account-Based marketing is the next logical evolution of marketing technology.
“ABM has grown like 100 percent year-over-year. The reason we are seeing this spike is because of this cycle that peaks every five years or so.”
Companies like ExactTarget and others were born.
2005-2010: Marketing Automation
“Marketers said, ‘Well we’re sending all these emails, we’ve got to capture all these leads. How do we do that?’ That’s where marketing automation came in — to capture and nurture leads.'”
2010-2015: Predictive Marketing
“People said, ‘We’ve got too many leads coming in, and our salespeople are saying the leads are crap. We need to get better quality leads.’ Not every person who downloads a Game of Thrones-themed infographic is a valid lead. They’re a Game of Thrones fan, not a fan of my product, right? We as marketers have done so much content marketing that we look at leads as success. Predictive marketing was born out of that, because we need to now get sales the right leads as opposed to every single lead or account type.”
“Now we are finding that marketers and salespeople need to focus on the right accounts and leads. But for the longest time, we’ve only been focusing on email as a medium of communication. There’s a lot that has changed with how we engage buyers — through mobile, social, videos, and so on. Account-based marketing answers the question, ‘What do I do next?’ Once I have the person, once I know the account, what do I do outside of sending emails? The answer to that question has given rise to ABM.”
The ABM stack is defined and re-defined every day.
“The stack is getting more and more interesting. You’ve got to have table stakes, which is your CRM, marketing automation platform, etc. — ABM isn’t replacing any of that. Where the stack is really building up is technology that helps you do account-based marketing at scale and on a personalized level.
“Account-based marketing at scale is about knowing your list of accounts. As an example, let’s say you want to run a velocity campaign where you know some of these accounts have raised their hand and said they’re interested in the solution; they have identified their problem, and a salesperson has qualified them. They’re going to buy from you or your competitors.
“That’s when marketers typically back off and let sales step in, but I think that’s where marketers need to move forward and say, ‘Let’s give air cover to this opportunity now and run campaigns to engage the whole account.’ The technology is there. You have to say, ‘How do I make sure that everybody in the decision-making process is aware?'”
We can’t just keep emailing prospects.
“Maybe we should do direct mail, maybe put an ad on Facebook where they can actually see the message. Maybe we should run a video of a customer testimonial that is pertinent to their industry and their vertical and their persona so they can understand how we solve problems better. We should send it not just to that person but to that entire department so they feel better affinity to the brand. Maybe we should be running ads and putting that message in front of them in every way, shape or form for the next 30 days while they are in the sales cycle, making their decision.
“That kind of thought process and that kind of stack building is game-changing, and I think that’s where a lot of vendors are emerging from a technology perspective. They’re helping companies do account-based marketing at scale?”
Companies are still trying to figure out personalization.
“What if I want to focus on one company? Do you really need technology for that, or do you just need a Trello board that says, ‘for this company?’ Let’s just send them a direct mail and an ad campaign and a blog article and stuff like that.'”
“How can you personalize messaging to certain companies based on the estimated value of the deal? I think there’s a lot to be seen in the personalization space that I don’t think I’ve seen anybody do. But I’m seeing a lot more vendors jump in and help marketers do ABM at scale which is what is super interesting right now.”
I have never seen a marketer lose a job because sales numbers are going up.
“It just doesn’t happen. If the revenue is going up, marketers would never lose their jobs, even if they haven’t met their lead quota or pipeline quota. When marketers lose their jobs or their budget is cut, it’s usually because the company’s revenue goals are not met or sales goals are not met.
“All the metrics marketers are getting excited about — like downloads and leads — really don’t guarantee their job or company success. It’s in the best interest of smart marketers to be aligned more with sales revenue, because that’s how you keep your job. It sounds a little bit dark, but it’s a reality of where B2B companies are.”
Marketers are becoming lazy.
“I put myself in that category. It is so easy: write content, put it out under distribution channels, and market the heck out of it; run campaigns to get people to download more of it, or partner up with somebody to do a 100 million emails, or whatever you have to do to get more leads.
“Lead generation has become an easy pattern solution, and marketers are getting better and better at that. Go to an event sponsor, you get a thousand people who drop their business card in a fishbowl to get and iPad and you consider that a lead. I think marketers are getting lazy. I’m not saying they aren’t working hard, but they’re getting lazy about the output and the throughput of what they’re really trying to achieve.”
Sales has no other option.
“If a salesperson doesn’t meet a quota for three months, they are out of a job. Sales are always focused on revenue. They say, ‘I need to close this deal, or I’m not going to have money to feed my family.’ There is no other viewpoint.”
“Sales has always been about taking prospects or account from one stage to the next. Marketers didn’t really have tools and technologies to support that. As we went from the era of emails, to marketing animation, to predictive, to account-based marketing, they finally started to figure it out. Now marketers can actually impact sales. You don’t need to have a shiny new object, or shiny new giveaway, or just a booth, and consider that marketing. We’re actually going to impact revenue, and that realization can go a long way.”
The FlipMyFunnel Festival is going to be phenomenal.
“We already have over 500 people who have registered for the conference. There are amazing speakers like Jon Miller, Craig Rosenberg, David Raab . . . and support from amazing sponsors. It’s really the community of ABM coming together and saying, ‘We need a bigger way to talk about account-based everything.”
“We did the first conference a year ago in Atlanta. Since then, we have done five other FlipMyFunnel conferences in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. And now going back to Austin, we’ve realized that people are getting sophisticated; they not only want to know why it’s important, but how to do it. Show me examples. Show me success.
“We’ll have more than a dozen case studies talking about how certain companies got started with ABM. How did they change the narrative internally? How are they creating jobs within their departments by talking about ABM? What is the journey? What are the metrics they’re using?
“That story of metrics and alignment is very, very exciting and something that I look forward to hearing more about at the FlipMyFunnel conference.”
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B2B Nation: Smarketing is a podcast for B2B sales and marketers, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topic customer service in the industry. Check out our other episodes on iTunes, or follow on Twitter: @B2BNation_Smar.