By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
About our guest: Jessica Fewless After 3.5 years at Demandbase (and 20+ years in B2B Marketing), Jessica has seen it all when it comes to Account-Based Marketing. Playing an instrumental role in Demandbase’s rollout of an ABM strategy, and educating over 1000 B2B marketers on the principles of ABM over the last 18 months, Jessica has become a resident expert. From building the right target account list and understanding the impact of ABM on marketing programs, to selling ABM within an organization and finding budget for your strategy, Jessica has worked with organizations to build, hone and measure the success of their own ABM strategies.
Listen in here:
Matt: If you are joining us live as we are here life every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, excited to have you here. If you are joining us through the on demand podcast it is available for free at iTunes at Google play, thanks very much for joining us.
Our job here at Sales Pipeline Radio is to bring you some of the best insights in sales and marketing if it’s related to the pipeline, any element of the pipeline, we cover it here. Last week we had a great conversation with the author of the book Sell with a Story, Lead with a Story and even Parenting with a Story and wasn’t specific to either sales or demand gen what was a great reminder that storytelling is a core part of managing your funnel. And today we are very excited to talk with Jessica Fewless who joins us from DemandBase and we are going to be talking about the increased complexity of selling into B2B marketing; into B2B targets; the fact that the buying committee internally is getting larger, more complex.
You’ve got already organizations that are increasingly matrixed and difficult to get into. So we will be talking about strategies to do that. And a lot about account based marketing which we actually haven’t covered a lot in Sales Pipeline Radio. So far this year the frothiness has increased with a lot of companies talking about, especially as we head into 2017, what account based marketing means, why it might matter to their organizations how they might make shifts from what they are doing today into account based marketing.
I am so excited to have Jessica with us. Jessica, thanks for joining Sales Pipeline Radio
Jessica: Thanks for having me Matt.
Matt: Now Jessica and I have seen a lot of each other over the last couple of months. Demandbase has been putting on a very significant roadshow to talk about account based marketing and enterprise marketing. I was honored to be a guest at the CMO Council that they were part of a couple days ago and we did a webinar yesterday, I think we are doing a tweet chat next week. I am sure you’re going to get sick of me at some point but so far I am glad that you keep sticking around and keep showing up for these.
So maybe start with what exactly is account based marketing. I think it’s really easy to start throwing around the acronyms and buzz words but independent of the words in the acronym, what does it mean to you as you think about account based marketing in the field today?
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. So at the highest level I would say account based marketing is really understanding who is your target audience and building a marketing mix around going after that target audience and along the way, aligning with your sales team on that same target so you can deliver relevant messaging throughout the entire buyer’s journey to really help them close more deals, help them close them faster and hopefully help them close them with a larger average contract value.
At the end of the day what it does, it makes sure the entire sales organization is that much more efficient. And from a marketers perspective, it’s actually far more efficient of an approach as well. You know instead of trying to throw as many leads as we can over the wall and hope some of them work for the sales team, now we are agreed upon, who are the targets we actually want to go after?
Marketing then lines of all of their budget and their marketing mix behind those targets and then really brings in only the leads that the system is looking for and really helps them not just at the front end with the buyer’s journey but throughout the entire buyer’s journey to really help effect their close rates and bring, at the end of the day, more revenue into the company.
Matt: So CEB says that there is now like 6.8 members of the internal buying committee that are part of making a decision about any of our products and solutions. Every time I hear that quoted in a room where there are enterprise sellers they are like it’s a lot more than that, it’s just complicated who we are selling into.
More than just picking off the right targets and speaking more precisely to the right people, organizing consensus inside of an organization to help increase sort of focus and velocity I think is a key part of ABM as well. Talk a little bit about what that means and sort of that internal buying committee and how effective ABM can make sense of that.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. And this is really where sales can feel the most support from marketing is around this entire buyer’s committee because typically what they are going to be doing is they are going to be focusing on that person with the budget authority, need and the time light, right? That whole BAND model, because that’s a person who is going to sign the contract, right? So that is generally where their efforts are spent; one – because that’s the only person they actually have access to. So sometimes they act as a gatekeeper to the rest of that stakeholder committee but two – they only have so much bandwidth so they need to focus on that person who eventually is going to sign their contracts.
Here is where marketing comes in and marketing through the variety of methods that we have at our disposal or the variety of tactics, can actually reach the rest of that buyer’s committee. But once again like I said, really in concert with sales to make sure that marketing is delivering the same message at the same time to that entire buying committee that the sales rep is delivering to that individual that they are primarily focused on so that the messages are marrying each other and marketing can help bring the rest of that buying committee along to make their sales reps jobs a whole lot easier.
Matt: Talking with Jessica Fewless today here who runs field marketing for Demandbase on Sales Pipeline Radio. And that internal buying committee exists inside your own organization as well. And I often find as we are trying to get an organization, get our own organizations bought off on new initiatives, new focus areas, driving that consensus internally is a real thing and so there is some ABM tactics we can use internally.
I bring this up for a couple of reasons. One – I think it is important to sort of understand that when you are trying to make a decision where more than one person is involved in any context of our lives and business but also for those that are listening that are thinking ABM and account based marketing, account based revenue activities, it might make sense for their organization knowing that it is not just a marketing function, it is a sales and marketing function together that requires a real shift in ongoing process and strategy and focus. You’ve really got to ABM yourself and sort of make sure the rest of your organization is bought off on it as well. Talk a little bit about what that means and maybe talk a little bit about… Sort of introduce this expert guide that you brought to the marketplace as well.
Jessica: Yeah, so you know, what we were finding quite honestly in our own sales process was that the reason a lot of our sales reps weren’t making the sale was because their key contact would come back to them by the end of the day and say you know, love what you guys do and what you are able to do but we don’t have an ABM strategy here so it doesn’t make sense for us to invest in this technology right now. Right? Like it was just that simple.
And so the light bulb went off in my head and I went like well great, let’s figure out how to help them get past that roadblock and that’s where we connected with Matt and said okay, help us put together a guide, kind of a success kit that we can hand over to these very individuals that are like I get it, I am bought in on ABM but everybody else isn’t, that can help them sell it internally inside their organization.
And so what we did was we actually put together three-part success kit, the first being a whole set of talking points to all the different stakeholders by the committee. So far Matt mentioned both sales and marketing but finance needs to be bought off on it because the budget, the marketing budget is going to look very different from before ABM to after ABM.
Even the CEO, the C suite needs to be bought off on it as well because once again the way that the sales team operating is going to look a little different and in a perfect world or even in a pretty good world, the sales team is going to be far more efficient. And so the C suite now needs to be able to look at that and go okay, so what does that mean from a revenue projection for the year, our expenses, those sorts of things.
So not only the sales team needs to be bought off on it as well is your C suite and as well as finance, but as Matt alluded to yesterday during kind of the Q&A section of our webinar, marketing can sometimes actually be the hardest organization or the hardest team to actually get on board with it and that may seem somewhat counterintuitive but even I can even say in full disclosure here at Demandbase when we first rolled out account based marketing, there was some marketing alignment issues. Like I said for so long as B2B marketers we have been focused on volume metrics, how many leads can we hand over to sales? Just kind of keep the buyers stoked so to speak knowing that only at the end of the day there .2% of them would convert to close one business kind of per the Serious Decisions Funnel model – the waterfall model.
So it’s really hard to let go of old habits. And so it took us probably two or three quarters here internally to get everybody committed to the quality versus quantity metrics that we had in place. And quite honestly, the easiest way to do that is to put KPIs and peoples MBO’s and their bonuses connected to things like pipeline versus which is obviously a quality based metric versus quantity based metrics like and raises or MQL’s.
Matt:Talk a little bit about that cultural change that’s required. I mean I get independent of ABM versus anything else you are trying to change. I think oftentimes people, not everyone is bought off on any kind of change. Sometimes you’ve got people that have the same objective but different ideas on how to get there, there is political sort of conflicts, there is sometimes people that are scared about their job security. What are some of the landmines you’ve seen in adopting ABM internally that people may not be thinking about on the surface but they can slow down or kill the ability for you to make the shift?
Jessica: Yeah, and I think this is where kind of having that agreement across all the team but then also internally inside marketing becomes really important. Like I said there is kind of this shift from quantity to quality which inherently everybody buys off on all right. Like you say you go to the SVP of sales or CRO and say hey, we are going to bring you higher-quality leads through an account based marketing strategy and they go sounds great. And then you say but just so you know, the overall buying is actually going to go down because we are not really going to be bringing you any of those leads that are on your target account list anymore and they go whoa, whoa! I don’t know if I like that. We already feel like we don’t get enough leads from you and now you are going to give us less? Right?
So it’s really getting behind that and this is what kind of the success kit helps us out with a little bit, is it’s how do you really explain that difference? And yes it’s going to be fewer, it’s going to be more of the ones that you want and so your sales team is going to spend less time sifting through the garbage and they are only going to get the gold so that’s going to make them that much more efficient in what they are doing.
Matt: Before we go to break here real quick, give me a quick example of where you’ve seen sort of ABMs accelerate the path for sales and marketing working more closely together which I think impacts more than just your enterprise sales. It impacts the efficacy and penetration rate of all your sales efforts.
Jessica: Yeah, so it’s funny. I go in to talk to a lot of customers and prospects as it’s kind of part of my job. And whenever I go in and talk to these organizations the always say who should be in the room and they immediately go well the demand gen team and I absolutely agree with that but I am like, it’s really a whole marketing initiative. But also I am like get some of the sales team in the room, right? Because you know, the sales team needs to be bought off on this, they need to come along for the ride. A lot of sales leaders go great! You are going to do account based marketing? Here is my targeted account list, now go market to it., Which could be a place to start for them, right?
But when it really works best is when sales and marketing co-develops that target account list because then everybody’s invested in that list, everybody’s bought off on that list and then the two teams work together.
And then because everybody is bought off on the list, everybody’s bought off on the efficacy of account based marketing, now you have less of the issues we are sales teams will say sorry it’s my account, I am already talking to somebody in marketing, stay out of it. But now they are working in concert with each other; like I said to help with that kind of efficiency, those efficiency metrics and help each and every individual sales rep sell more at the end of the year.
Matt: Well thank you everyone for joining the Sales Pipeline Radio. We just have a couple of episodes here left in the remainder of 2016 before we start a brand-new year. I am very excited for some upcoming guests we have. We have Jon Miller who is the founder of Engageo speaking of account based marketing. Engageo is a great platform that helps marketers actually execute in ABM in a lot of greater context. He is also the co-founder of Marketo. He is almost always the smartest man in the room, I can’t say that about a lot of people but he is an incredibly smart guy that has done a lot to sort of grow modern marketing. So excited to have John joining us.
And we are also very excited to have Grant Cardone join us. Grant, if you are in sales you know Grant he is a sales speaker, blogger, influencer, writer and has influenced, I can easily say more than millions of sales professionals around the world, excited to have him come talking about his new book as well.
Now today, very excited to continue to talk with Jessica Fewless who runs field marketing for Demandbase and specifically about account based marketing and really how to sell account based marketing inside your organization and these tips and best practices apply to really any new initiative, and you focus area you are trying to get, trying to drive inside an organization where you’ve got a variety of viewpoints, objectives, perspectives, politics, you name it.
Speaking of those points of conflict or friction, what are some of the objections that you hear Jessica among customers? Obviously you are selling a platform that enables at the level of enterprise and more complex modern marketing. I am assuming some of the objections you hear from people in your own sales process probably are reflective not necessarily objections of product but really concerns people have about adopting change and adopting something different. What are some of the things that you’ve seen in people’s pushback on account based marketing?
Jessica: Yeah, so as I mentioned earlier, you know there’s definitely the issues with shifting away from the quantity to the quality-based metrics, that’s definitely a big thing. A lot of times the marketing team will just say hey, our sales team won’t talk to us, right?
So they are like that’s just a nonstarter. We don’t have a relationship with our sales team. We do our thing and they do their thing and hopefully it all works out at the end of the day, right? That’s becoming less and less common but that’s definitely a very real issue that we do here.
There is also a lot of everybody is comfortable with what they know. So like I said when folks come from a background heavy in inbound, inbound is the way to go, inbound is the way that we are going to get or business there, they have a hard time shifting away to be more proactive, right? They’ve been trained, they built their career and being that kind of inbound reactive kind of strategy. So now to make the shift to be more proactive, know the accounts you want to go after and you go proactively go find them and engage with them, that’s another thing that’s definitely kind of a tough shift for people.
I know I think the other thing, kind of the account based process or even any I think it would be for a lot of ABM marketing technologies, is just the budget. Nobody right now has an ABM budget line item. That’s definitely a tough one for people to kind of figure out. And so it’s something that’s definitely not insurmountable even if your budget is locked and loaded for 2017, if you decide, you know what?
We are actually going to go ABM for 2017 but your budget is already kind of locked in, as long as you have wiggle room to shift that budget around, you can find the budget to actually engage in an account based marketing strategy. And in fact, your budget is going to go a lot further when you are truly only focused on a target account list because no longer do you have to pay the high premium for tactics that allow you to cast a wide net with your marketing approach but rather like I said you are much more proactive and so you can go razor focused on those 500, the 50, 500, even 5000 accounts that you are focused on depending on the size of your business.
Matt: Yeah, I mean I am glad you brought up budget because that’s a really important component of this. I think anytime you look at something like this they say well it’s going to cost a lot more money, how do we do that? So you brought up some good perspectives on budget but help put that in context. I think this is where a lot of companies don’t do a good job. They say well we need this money or we need this more investment to do this new initiative. They don’t always put this in context of what is going to deliver.
Talk a little bit about setting the foundation of outcomes upfront, making sure that the organization, especially leadership, your CFOs, your CEOs and others, understand why they are doing this in the first place.
Jessica:Yeah, absolutely. So anytime you can talk about more efficient budget spend and ROI with your CFO, you are going to hear bells and see rainbows, right? You get very excited if you can say walk into an office and definitively say each one of our sales reps are going to be able to sell more, they are going to do it faster and the marketing budget is actually going to be much more efficient and produce a lot more, right? If you can say that up front they go great, now they are going to want to dig into the numbers.
But actually Matt was instrumental in helping us kind of build and ROI calculator for an ABM strategy, so just straight up if you start aligning your sales and marketing teams, if you focus on a target account list, if you spend your budget in a manner that allows you to target only those target accounts, you are going to see a substantive uptick, not just kind of that single-digit increase in revenue year over year but rather almost more of a hockey stick where like I said across the board marketing should be more efficient, every single sales rep is going to be more efficient and so at the end of the day the company is just going to be able to sell a lot more product.
Matt: So talk a little bit about 2017 as we are just kind of around the corner here now, it’s just a couple of minutes before we wrap up. Tell us a little bit about where you see this all going. Are we looking at greater adoption? Is there something that needs to happen in the market in terms of early adopters showing more results from this that get more companies on board? How do you see that evolving?
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve actually been at Demandbase now for 3 1/2 years. And so 3 1/2 years ago we were kind of the only ones out there beating the ABM drum, right? It was kind of a lonely marketplace out there. And it was one of those things that three years ago we would go to shows or host events and the story was hey, account based marketing, it’s really cool, here is what it is, here is why you should do it and people will go – yeah that’s really cool – and then that’s kind of where the conversation would end.
And then you know, two years ago it was more like yeah, ABM, yeah, okay this is something I should know more about. Tell me more. So they wanted to dig in a little bit more into the what does it look like? How does it take shape in an organization? How do you actually think about trying to implement something like this? But those conversations two years ago would end with – yeah, that’s interesting but they don’t have the bandwidth or the budget for it this year so I’m going to have to look at it for 2016.
Well then in 2016 what we saw was suddenly this huge uptick of people going okay account based marketing, Yep, totally make sense, I am hearing about it everywhere, I get it, I don’t want to know what it is anymore. Tell me how to go do it. So that’s been kind of the makeshift and now for 2017 it’s definitely going to be the tell me how to go do it but tell me how to do it better. Right? I’ve been practicing account based marketing or we ran a pilot in 2016, we like it, we want to go big in 2017 so tell me how to do it better. Tell me how to scale it.
I think you are going to start to see more user groups and meet ups and stuff around the topic of account based marketing so it’s not just these thought leaders out there talking about it but it’s actual practitioners learning from each other and really writing the playbook on what best practices are around account based marketing.
Matt:That sounds great. Well just real quick before we wrap up, you made reference to this ABM expert guide that we worked on together, great resource system to help companies basically evangelize and sell the idea and rationale for ABM internally. Where do people get a copy of that?
Jessica: Absolutely! So www.demandbase.com. We’ve got the whole resource center that is out there, the success kit is out there for quick downloads by anybody listening to this along with other… A bunch of other webinars around topics like budgeting and workshops around how to think about building your target account list, how to get your sales and marketing teams aligned. So a whole host of resources out there.
If you are just getting started and if you are beyond the just getting started and want to really think about how to scale and improve your ABM strategy, Demandbase actually started last year an ABM certification program which we are continuing this year and building out an advanced course. So if you really want to get with like-minded B2B marketers who have already dabbled in ABM, that course is probably the place to go.
Matt: Perfect! Thanks very much. Thanks so much to our guest today Jessica Fewless from Demandbase talking about ABM and complex selling both internally as well as externally with your prospects. Thanks everyone today for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. If you want to get a replay of this session today and hear any of our past guests you can get that on www.salespipelineradio.com anytime on demand for free.
You can also subscribe to our podcast at the iTunes store and Google play and I encourage you to do that to make sure you don’t miss any episode. And join us every week Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern for more exciting guests, more great conversations about sales and marketing and managing the pipeline. And until next week, thanks for joining us.