By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Yet another great episode on Sales Pipeline Radio!
Join us LIVE 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 had some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into the rest of the year. 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. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Peter Isaacson in this episode, called “How to Manage Influencers, Analysts and More: Q&A with a Category Leader”
Here’s just a bit of our conversation… read the entire transcript and/or listen in below:
Matt: The easy thing to do on this conversation would be to talk about account based marketing. Demandbase is one of the leading providers of account based marketing technology to B2B companies. You guys do some amazing work in the space, but I’ve been particular impressed with the work you and your team have done with influencers and to create influence among third party experts in the market. So I wanted to spend a little time talking about that because I know a lot of our listeners on the sales and the marketing side, there’s a lot you can do in terms of direct marketing, but every one of us we’re marketing to people where there is a network of organizations, of individuals, of analysts, and others that are influencing their decision making as well. I think probably the best example of that for you guys more recently is the Forrester Wave that recently came out. Can you just kind of level set what was the wave about and how was Demandbase placed there?
Peter: Sure. So this is a real milestone I think certainly for Demandbase but also for ABM as a category and certainly want to get into kind of category creation and the role influencers play in that. But this has been a multi-year journey for us, not just overall within ABM certainly but also with Forrester to really kind of work with them, to help them understand account based marketing, why it’s getting so much traction, why customers are getting engaged in it, things like that. Really for category to really stand as a true category, you need a lot of things to happen, but one of the key milestones certainly is Gartner doing a magic quadrant and/or Forrester doing one of their waves around the category. That’s what happened. They just published it about three weeks ago. ABM platforms specifically and Demandbase thankfully was established as the clear leader up into the right for the ABM platform category. So very exciting….
Matt: Thank you everyone also for wedging us in here on Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks very much for those of you joining us in the middle of your day on Thursday. We are here live every week Thursday at 2:30 Eastern/11:30 Pacific. Thank you for joining us. I know we got a lot of people joining us live at work listeners. Thank you very much. Also, for those of you joining us on the podcast from Google Play and the iTunes store, thank you so much for listening and for subscribing. As always, every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio past, present, and future is available at SalesPipelineRadio.com. Each week we are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing and B2B. Today is no different. Very, very excited to have with us Peter Isaacson. He is the chief marketing officer for Demandbase, who today is also our robing account based marketing or ABM correspondent.
Peter, thank you for joining us.
Peter: Matt, good to be here. Thanks for inviting me on the show.
Matt: Where from the wide world of B2B marketing are you joining us today?
Peter: I am right now in my home base about to head out on a customer call. So about to be in transit. But I’ve locked down this time slot just for you.
Matt: Well, I appreciate that. You’ve been very generous. You and your team have been generous in the past and I appreciate you driving the time today. Before we get in to the ABM side of things, it wouldn’t be Peter Isaacson interview if we didn’t start with the New York Mets. If we were doing this interview mid-April, we might be having a different conversation. So I guess my biggest question for you, when and if Yoenis Cespedes comes back, is there hope for the 2018 New York Mets season?
Peter: Well, when you’re a Mets fan, the one kind of axiom that you follow is they can’t break your heart if they don’t first raise your expectation. So they jump out to a 12-1 record right out of the gate, and every year it’s like, “I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to buy in that this is our year.” Then they get to 12-1 and you’re thinking like, “God, maybe this is the year.” Then they basically kind of go on for the rest of the season and play 10 games below 500 baseball. Now the rumors are starting to go in that Noah Syndergaard is going to get on the trade block and Jacob deGrom is going to get traded and blah, blah, blah. So it’s pretty much business as usual for my New York Mets.
Matt: Well, you’re talking to a Cubs fan who has experienced that let down quite a bit, who also wouldn’t mind having either of those pitchers at the trade deadline this year because I think we need one more starter to kind of round out our stretch run. Well, I appreciate that.
Lets get into the matter …
Peter: I just have to comment on your Cubbie-ness. You guys are in the middle of your Red Sox like transition from darlings of the baseball world where everyone was rooting for you and thinking, “Yes, this is great. They finally did it.” To now being the most hated fan base in the United States. So congratulations on that transformation.
Matt: Thanks. I appreciate you bringing that up. I really am hoping that the Cubs fans are going to come through and reveal their wholehearted Midwestern-ness and not descend into that level of Yankee/Red Sox-ish-ness. Boy, we could spend the whole show talking about this. That’d be fun. Maybe, Paul, we can do like a sport’s radio mon core. We just invite people on that we know are some smart B2B marketers but also just our avid sports fans. I’m sure we could go on this for a while.
Peter: I like it. I like it.
Matt: The easy thing to do on this conversation would be to talk about account-based marketing. Demandbase is one of the leading providers of account based marketing technology to B2B companies. You guys do some amazing work in the space, but I’ve been particular impressed with the work you and your team have done with influencers and to create influence among third party experts in the market. So I wanted to spend a little time talking about that because I know a lot of our listeners on the sales and the marketing side, there’s a lot you can do in terms of direct marketing, but every one of us we’re marketing to people where there is a network of organizations, of individuals, of analysts, and others that are influencing their decision making as well. I think probably the best example of that for you guys more recently is the Forrester Wave that recently came out. Can you just kind of level set what was the wave about and how was Demandbase placed there?
Peter: Sure. So this is a real milestone I think certainly for Demandbase but also for ABM as a category and certainly want to get into kind of category creation and the role influencers play in that. But this has been a multi-year journey for us, not just overall within ABM certainly but also with Forrester to really kind of work with them, to help them understand account based marketing, why it’s getting so much traction, why customers are getting engaged in it, things like that. Really for category to really stand as a true category, you need a lot of things to happen, but one of the key milestones certainly is Gartner doing a magic quadrant and/or Forrester doing one of their waves around the category. That’s what happened. They just published it about three weeks ago. ABM platforms specifically and Demandbase thankfully was established as the clear leader up into the right for the ABM platform category. So very exciting.
Matt: Yeah. Congrats on that. I mean, that’s a huge accomplishment. I think given the still somewhat nascent nature of the ABM category. I mean, huge to have you guys well out front and well deserved. One of the things that I think I’ve noticed in terms of category creation, some of this may be it’s related to the category creation as well as sort of educating analysts and influencers is trying to help people understand what exactly is account based marketing. I think it’s evident in the way you see companies that are on that wave that in some cases people consider there may be four or five categories that we thought were categories represented on there. Is that just part of the sausage making of category creation that we’re not really sure who’s were? Different people here own different parts of the elephant. How does a company like Demandbase help to define that? Then what are the keys to helping analysts help make sense of that as well?
Peter: Well, I think you’ve got to come in with a point of view, and at Demandbase we certainly have a point of view of what account based marketing is and what constitutes as account based marketing. To Forrester’s credit, they took a relatively expansive view of account based marketing in that they really did include kind of various pieces of it from account selection and identification. Whether that was predictive or intent based into account based advertising, across website personalization, across orchestration, across engagement with your sales team so that they can kind of push things across the line through sales enablement and then into measurement and metrics. So they basically covered a fairly broad spectrum of functionality I guess within account based marketing. They essentially said that, “Look, not everyone’s going to do everything. But to be a platform, you’ve got to start covering multiple pieces of this otherwise you’re really just a point solution.”
So our task over the past literally over the last four years but really in earnest with Forrester as it was clear they were going to create this wave was to give them our perspective on the framework for the category, what it looked like, what the pieces were, and then how the customers were using each piece of that, kind of each segment of that category, and how it built up to a bigger hole. That’s really what we were focused on over the past year with Forrester.
Matt: So we’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Peter Isaacson. He’s the CMO, chief marketing officer of Demandbase. We’re talking about a little bit of influencer engagement, analyst engagement, as well as category creation. You mentioned sort of this four year process overall with planning a category and really more in earnest the last year with Forrester. I think plenty of people don’t really realize how much goes into that effort and that education process. It’s not just a let’s do a briefing, do a demo with an analyst and see where we show up. Even in the creation, especially nascent industries, my understanding is that you guys were up into the right, in a great position. Plenty of other people on that wave not so happy, and it was even delayed a little bit because people were trying to negotiate their way into better positions. Can you open up a little bit of the sausage making of really what it takes in some of the patience and duration and I guess endurance really that it takes to sort of get to this point?
Peter: Sure. Well, a category gets created. It’s not the most common of occurrences because folks are fairly selective about what really is a category, but for us we kind of recognized that four things had to happen for a category around ABM to really get legitimately credited. The media had to talk about it and really write about it. Analysts need to cover it. Vendors needed to compete over it, and customers needed to buy it and see value in it. That is kind of a virtuous circle because the more media talks about it, writes about it, the more vendors get interested in it. The more vendors get interested in it, the more communications are out there around the category, the more customers start kicking the tires on it. The more customers that are kicking the tires on it, the more analysts get interested in it because they’re getting inbound questions about, “What’s this thing called ABM? We’re thinking about it but we got to get smart on it. Who are the players in it?” Etc. Once analysts start getting that inbound, then that perks up their ears far more than just a technology vendor saying, “Hey, this is going to be a big deal. You guys should pay attention.”
But all of that stuff really, really needs to happen for a category to get created. Just quickly, for us around Forrester, part of the challenge was finding out who the analysts were going to be that were really leaning in. There were multiple analysts that expressed interest and understanding ABM but it became clear that there was a very big difference between peripheral interest and maybe writing a post or giving a presentation on it versus the guy or the couple of people that were going to actually really drive the development of the wave. That took a little bit of time to identify. But once we had seen that Steve Casey and for a time Allison Snow were going to be the people, it really helped kind of clarify the task at hand for us.
Matt: Peter Isaacson, the CMO of Demandbase, here. Right before we take a quick commercial break, I mean, what’s the process of trying to identify the people that you do want to cover? I mean, 10-15 years ago, there was a handful of people like the Forrester’s and Gartner’s of the world. Today, a lot more organizations. Certainly in ABM you’ve got groups like Topo. You’ve got individual even practitioners that have influence in the market. How do you sort of figure out who you’re going to engage and where you spend time trying to build influence?
Peter: Sure. Part of this folks will start self-selecting. You mentioned Topo. So Craig Rosenberg and Eric and Scott and those guys, they were kind of early believers in account based approach. They’re smart folks with a great kind of connection into the overall ecosystem. So we identified those guys, for instance, as being very influential, and we really cultivated a relationship with them. Not that they’re ever going to kind of give our elevator pitch, but the more they know your story, the more intelligently they can speak about kind of our role in account based marketing.
So some of this is self-selecting in terms of folks like Craig and Eric raising their hands. Sometimes we really push it. Like Todd Berkowitz for Gartner, he had some early interest in it, but we really helped cultivate that interest. So there’s a bit of yin and yang in terms of influencers that are clearly leaning in, and you just kind of stoke the flames. But also you’re doing a little pull into them to help them engage.
Matt: Going to have to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be back with more with Peter Isaacson, CMO of Demandbase. You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Thank you, Paul. I noticed you’re wearing your Twins hat today. Twins also I had seen that started the season strong and that American League Central not exactly the powerhouse of baseball this year. But because of that I guess they still got a chance, right?
Paul: Always a chance. Always a hope. That’s the curse they have over all of us. There’s always a hope.
Matt: You got to play all 162 games. Well, thank you very much for joining us. Sales Pipeline Radio today.
Peter doesn’t know this, but this episode is the first episode in the summer of pipeline, our stretch through the summer season into the fall. We’re about here to end Q2 and end the first half of the year and through the summer we’ve got some great guests lined up for the Sales Pipeline Radio summer of pipeline. Next week we’ve got Kevin Eikenberry. He is an author and a speaker and an influencer himself. He has written a new book about managing employees remotely. Particularly has some interesting advice and best practices around managing sales teams remotely. So definitely check us out for that.
We are going to be dark in terms of live shows the week of Fourth of July, but we will pre-record an episode for Thursday, July 5th with Dave Gerhardt. He is the VP of marketing for Drift. We’re going to talk about the landing page. Is it dead? Is it alive? They’re doing some really interesting things that are attempting to create more engagement with prospects that don’t require people to fill out firms.
A little more today with Peter Isaacson, CMO of Demandbase. What is definitely the leader in the ABM space based on the recent Forrester Wave. We’re talking about category creation and also just managing and creating influence. I want you to talk a little bit, Peter, if you can about the CMO counsel you guys have creating because I think it’s a very different strategy, but it’s another way of creating sort of an authentic audience for the themes and ideas that surround the category you’re trying to create. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Peter: Yeah. Absolutely. So about four years ago I had the idea that, you know what, my peers are also my customers and my prospects and everything. I’d love to … I’m in a position where I can actually form a kind of a group of CMOs that get together once or twice a year and talk over things that kind of impact us all. Quite honestly, when I first started thinking about it, I was like, “Well, this is kind of a … This is a great opportunity for me to form tighter relationships with customers and start selling some prospects.” Pretty quickly I actually changed my thinking from being that kind of transactionally based and taking kind of a broader view in saying, “You know what, what I really want to do is just make this a great group of folks that really value getting together and talking over these issues.” I quickly kind of transformed from I want you to be my customer or a solid prospect to you know what, I just want you to be like someone that I want to spend time with, someone that’s got a point of view, someone that’s going to engage with a group of their peers in a very productive way.
So I’ve got folks in there that are customers. I’ve got folks that are true prospects. But I’ve got folks in there, other CMOs that they currently aren’t companies that should buy from Demandbase or will buy from Demandbase, but they’re just good, solid citizens with great kind of point of view on marketing and B2B marketing and some of the challenges. What I found is that just purely the good will that comes out of that CMO counsel, the fact that it’s not a commercial for Demandbase, that I’m not pushing our solutions. It’s not a bait and switch or anything like that. That it’s really a broader kind of discussion on challenges that we all face every day. That has been really invaluable. I think that’s the lesson for kind of all kind of engagement with influencers, which is don’t try and make it a commercial about you. When you’re trying to engage influencers, don’t try and get them to communicate your message out to the market. Basically you want them to know your story but tell their story. I think that’s essentially what’s happened over time with our influencer network. Whether it’s the CMO counsel or otherwise.
Matt: Wow. I’ve had the honor and pleasure to attend a couple of those sessions. You’re right. I mean, you practice what you preach there where it’s not about Demandbase. It’s about a sort of helping peers solve challenges related to ABM and otherwise. I think you guys have done that really well in other places as well. If you’re not familiar with some of Demandbase’s certification programs, they have three levels of ABM certification from beginning to expert. It’s not about the ABM platform. It is not training on how to use ABM. It is really thinking through everything from account selection to sales alignment to selling the idea of ABM internally.
I think to your point there’s engagement with someone like Forrester to really say, “Hey, Demandbase is a category leader,” and then there’s conversations with peers and influencers and others who say, “Hey, we really know what we’re talking about here.” We all know how important sort of peer to peer reviews and peer to peer feedback is. How do you prioritize one over the other or is it a matter of sort of just prioritizing both in their element at different stages of people’s buying journey?
Peter: I think it is a little bit of both, but part of this is really engaging with very smart customers that can help tell the story. So we’ve been really fortunate. I can think off the top of my head Sydney Sloan, lead of Alfresco, now over at SalesLoft. Nick Ezzo, Cindy Nowicki from ServiceNow, Scott Canon from HP. These guys have been great spokespeople for ABM kind of at large. I think the great thing that’s happened is we’ve engaged these folks is, again, getting back to the point I made originally, which is they know our story but they tell their story. I think that’s really important because if I tried to get Sydney to say, “Hey, what I want you to do is say, ‘Demandbase is a marketing technology company specializing in account based marketing. We have blah, blah, blah,'” one, Sydney’s smart enough that she wouldn’t do it. But more importantly, it wouldn’t be authentic if she tried.
Getting them to tell their authentic story, if they know your story, then it’s amazing how it just kind of seeps in and they give it a spin that is all their own. Just that kind of authenticity is so critical as you actually engage influencers because you’re engaging influencers, you’re hoping that they promote something that’s of value to you, but you got to do that in a way that is authentic to them. The best way to do that is to understand their story and have them tell their story, but have them really kind of deeply understand your story because it tends to seep in just through osmosis.
Matt: Yeah. I love that. Such good advice. Your customers, your prospects, they don’t care about your story until you prove to them that you care about theirs. Their story in the context of what you do and the problems you solve is really where the interesting storytelling comes. That’s where the interesting opportunities come that make other people want to pay attention, and that really ultimately drive attention back to you as you try to strive to create category leadership.
Well, I know you got to run. We’re going to let you go. Really appreciate Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer of Demandbase joining us today. Talking a little ABM, talking a little category creation, talking a little Mets baseball as well. So thank you very much for joining us, Peter.
We will be here next week again live 11:30 Pacific/2:30 Eastern, continuing the summer of pipeline series. We’ve got a lot of great guests coming up. So make sure you continue to join us. For my great producer, Paul, great Twins fan, Paul, thank you very much for joining us. This is Matt Heinz on Sales Pipeline Radio.