By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s episode is entitled “Lessons on ABM from Inside the Trenches: Fine-Tune Your Strategy for 2020“. We talk with Edward Roberts, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Distil Networks.
We are really focusing today on ABM, account based marketing and all the things required in terms of elevating the game of the marketing team, but also changing the culture between sales and marketing to make that work.
Edward answers these questions below and a lot more:
- Why ABM?
- How did ABM became a priority for Distil?
- How did those conversations get started and where did you make the decision to lean in?
- What did it take to get the program off the ground?
- Was your CMO involved?
- Was the leadership of the company prioritizing this?
- What were some of the initial expectations and catalysts to making this a priority?
- How are you looking at evolving and growing the account based work into 2020?
- What are some of the bigger opportunities you see and what are some of the obstacles you see that might be something you want to keep keep in mind to try to navigate through over the next 12 to 14 months?
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Matt Heinz: Thank you very much everyone for joining us on this special Halloween episode of sales pipeline radio. If you’re joining us live on the funnel media radio network. Thanks so much for joining us. We are here every week live at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern and very excited to have you all with us. If you’re joining us on the podcast, sorry about the Halloween talk because now you’re probably into your Starbucks holiday cups and thinking about the end of your holidays and Thanksgiving, but thanks very much for joining us on the podcast feed. Every episode of sales pipeline radio is always available. Past, present and future at salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest members and best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing and today is absolutely no different. Very excited to have with us Edward Roberts. He is the director of product marketing at Imperva, previously Distil Networks, and Edward thanks so much for joining us today.
Edward: Yeah, thanks for having me. I appreciate your time.
Matt Heinz: Absolutely. I was very excited to have you on to talk about just marketing overall and to talk about ABM. You’ve been with Distil Networks for 30 years. You guys recently went through an acquisition, so all kinds of program and B2B and ABM and even sort of M&A culture things we can talk about, but I know we initially talked about really focusing today on account based marketing and I’m very excited to just get your perspective, you know, being in the trenches of helping a company move towards an account based marketing approach and all the things that are required in terms of elevating the game of the marketing team, but also sort of changing the culture between sales and marketing to make that work. So I guess I’ll ask the broad question to start talk about why ABM, account based marketing, why and how it became a priority for Distil. How did those conversations get started and where did you make the decision to lean into that?
Edward: Yeah, so I think to set the scene, what Distil or now Imperva as we’ve got acquired does is that we protect websites from bots that are attacking those websites. And albeit, there’s many use cases and many different types. So we have a wide range of organizations that we could have gone after. So when you’re a startup, you go through that typical make experiments, learn where you’re successful and try and double down on the investments that are successful and then try to be more focused so that you can gather more business. But as you’re going through that start, if you don’t know what industries you’re most successful in, we’d started from a formation and we’d been focused more on smaller to mid-market customers and then as we started to develop an understanding of the customers that were buying the product, we moved to a more enterprise focus.
So we moved up market, realize that there were certain industries that were very interested in the solution that we had, which was stopping bots from abusing their website and mobile apps. So that’s where ABM came in. ABM came in as a solution to focus ourselves and focus our team. There was only three of us in the marketing team, so we wanted to make sure that we weren’t trying to boil the ocean and do too many tactics and we wanted to be focused on the area that we thought we could be successful. So that strategy of the ABM was about let’s pick an industry and in our case we picked airlines as our first one and we decided that we were going to attack and focus ourselves and really go after airlines first. And it was sort of a the first foray into ABM. I don’t think we’ve mastered it. I think it’s a journey and we’re still going on it, but it’s, our first foray was say let’s create content that focuses on that industry and see if we can be more successful and really developed some more sales within the vertical.
Matt Heinz: So let’s take a step back for a second. I love the narrative of what you’re doing here, but I want to, I want to better understand sort of where this came from and how you were able to sort of make it, you know, doing this work will taking internal resources and spending money on resources externally and tools and they’re like, you talk about what it took to get that program off the ground. Was your CMO involved, you know, was the leadership of the company sort of prioritizing this? What were some of the initial expectations and I guess catalysts to making this a priority?
Edward: I think the catalyst was we started to see this one industry as having a lot of penetration and our solution being adopted widely. So one we had experience in that and we understood the language or the jargon that they talk about in that industry. And we had people who had successfully sold into it. We saw a revenue that was growing from that industry. We realized we weren’t that deeply penetrated into that industry yet. And so we said, let’s double down and continue the proven success that we’ve had and really see if we can expand. So really it was a, a market opportunity just seemed like it was the most lucrative way of going after that. And then how do we attack that? So that was kind of the whole business was saying, look, we’re successful in these areas, let’s go after them in a more concentrated approach.
So the whole business was behind it, sales, marketing, CEO. We decided to make that bet and say, let’s go after that. They’re all enterprise accounts and let’s go and attack though those verticals. And so we decided to in a quarter by quarter basis we would change each vertical, but we decided that we would go after them focus. So it was marketing campaigns that were we’re going to go out. Then it was sales follow up, you know, a mid stat and then it was let’s measure the results and see if a pipeline grows and you know and see if we can get those conversions.
Matt Heinz: A little more about getting sales on board. I mean I think it’s one thing for sales to say. Yeah sure. Like we’d love to have marketing’s help with going after enterprise accounts. But as you sort of dug into the details of what that required, talk a little bit about how, what it took to get, not just strategic alignment and engagement from sales but moving into operational alignment and really sort of integrating activities across sales and marketing. And talk a little bit about, you know, any, any challenges that require, but also any sort of lessons and best practices from what you guys have been there so far.
Edward: Yeah, yeah. We, we have good and bad in that one. It wasn’t always, we had bits where we went, well we did that right? And then we had bits where we said the engagement and alignment was poor on that one. I think the areas where we found it to be in alignment, obviously sales are in a hot lead that’s come in, they’ve got a steady problem and they’ve asked, they put their hand up, right? So anytime we could switch over, you know, a lead in that regard, we got alignment. And so I think our best alignment that we had, we put the inside sales people or the SVRs as we call them, into the program so that they were following up on every interaction that came out of these ABM campaigns.
Edward: And so our alignment with that group was really, really good when we were trying to say, okay, let’s focus on this industry. We’re hitting these 400 companies in this industry and we’re going to target this many people within them with these titles and any, we had those SDRs were on it and we had alignment there and that was helping build by pipeline. We moved it further forward. Okay. Sorry.
Matt Heinz: No, sorry. Go keep going. That was great.
Edward: Yeah. When we’d moved it further forward and we said let’s try and move our ABM to sort of individual landing pages that we were creating force a certain business and we were trying to get follow up and then we were trying to get the outside sales guys to use that and be aligned there. We found more difficulty there. So that’s, that was where the challenge of having people being, realizing that you’re all trying to focus on the same goal. The alignment fell apart a little bit when we were with the outside sales team so that was some of the challenges that we had to make sure that that adoption was happening. So, like I said, we had really good alignment through the SDRs and then we had some challenges when we were dealing with the account executives outside.
Matt Heinz: We hear that a lot with account-based efforts, right? Where you’ve got an insight team. They typically like, you know, some cases because they sit right there because you can spend more time with them and maybe because they’re more junior and they’re still figuring out sort of what sales and marketing looks like and how to work together. Sometimes with the field you’ve got reps that are further away that maybe traditionally have not really expected or experienced really good alignment or an operational alignment with marketing. Talk a little bit about that. And so the evolution of that for Distil and now Imperva and what are some of the strategies that you put in place and even if it’s still a work in progress to improve that communication and collaboration with the field sales team?
Edward: The Holy grail, I guess ABM is that you do one-to-one marketing, right? It’s you, you know that person, you know that profile. You know what they’ve downloaded. You focus only on them. And so you create a very individual and personal experience. I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet. There’s still work to be done on that. We’ve got sort of more of the, we’re focused on that one business and we’re trying to sort of penetrate into that business deeper rather than just being the one to one person to person marketing. So I think that the evolution is continuing. We started at us contacting people in that industry with content that was focused on them and it was very much,
here’s us talking about your industry. So talking to people who like you and showing you case studies of people exactly like you and trying to sort of get into the account based marketing that way. And I think we did well in that one. I think as we moved to this more one-to-one model where we’re still trying to work out the trouble in the road there because we’re not quite there yet, but that’s still the work in progress and the ultimate goal that we’re trying to achieve.
Matt Heinz: We talked talking today on sales pipeline radio with Edward Roberts, he’s director of product marketing at Imperva and I mean you’ve been at this for a while, right? I mean you look across the work you’ve done at Mykonos, Juniper, at Distil and now Imperva sometimes we look at things like account based marketing. Everyone sees it as kind of a flavor of the week and it’s something everyone’s focused on and maybe it’s a fad that goes away. What’s your perspective having done BDB marketing for a while, what ABM means you think this has longevity? Will this be something we’re still talking about in three to five years? Will we have moved on to something else?
Edward: Yeah, like I mean that’s an interesting perspective. It is a step on the evolution and you know that time will tell that. But I think what’s interesting about it is that internally it allows your team to focus on a goal and so you’re not doing what some people would say random acts of marketing, right? Where you’re saying, we’re going to write a blog, we’re going to do a webinar, we’re going to do, and they’re not coordinated, whatever that activity is, this actually gets you focused on saying what are the multiple touches in our campaigns? They were between eight to 10 touches in a row. We created unique content based around some threat research of how the industries were being affected by bots, and then we slice that information up in many different ways to create lots of different assets from that one asset. So we created a focus for the department, so we were all working on this one goal for a quarter.
So I think that was really, really helpful. So you weren’t getting distracted and because leadership and everybody else was all also involved with it, you really didn’t get that many distractions around it because they knew what everyone was trying to do and what the release dates and when things were going to go out. So I think as a way of focusing your marketing department and the wider company, it’s a good approach. I think that was very beneficial. For example, we would do updates to all hands meetings so that everybody in the company knew what the campaign was and what was coming out. And when things were coming out and when the email campaigns are stopping and when a different outreach was going on, it allowed us to focus and rather than being random, which I think is what I’ve seen in the past.
So that was the benefit internally. And I think the other benefit was numbers wise, we had more engagement and more interaction with our activities. So our email opens went up, our click throughs went up, our downloads of CPAs went up, you know, so all things like that improved and that led to a growth in pipeline that you can say that this campaign has created this much pipeline. So for us, it, it allowed us to focus, but it also allowed us to create the sort of standard measurement based on a campaign. And so got rid of that random acts of, hey, we need to do this webinar next week with so-and-so, and you’re suddenly scrambling. So I think that the benefits that we saw,
Matt Heinz: Love it. Well, we’re going to take a quick break, pay some bills, we’ll be right back more with Edward Roberts talking about ABM. We’re going to talk a little bit more about what’s coming next in 2020 the impact of a little M&A activity. If just still an Imperva and put how that impacts ABM program moving forward. We’ll be right back on sales pipeline radio.
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Paul: And with that we had back to Matt and some more scary stories from inside the trenches.
Matt Heinz: Well, I mean, every story inside the trenches gets a little scary I think. I mean it’s very rarely do you do ask someone like, how did something go? And they’re like, Oh, I went perfect. There were no changes. Everything went great. And it’s amazing. Oftentimes, you asked that question whether you’re doing it in a public place like a podcast or you’re just doing it in a meeting and people apologize as well. You know, we’re not perfect or, you know, we’re just, we’re still working this out. Well that’s everybody. Like that’s just, that’s just how the sausage gets made. And I think we all live in glass houses and this is all really difficult stuff. I mean when we’re talking about not just marketing, owning outbound campaigns, we’re talking about really integrating between two departments that historically have not integrated at this tactical level.
I love what Edward’s talking about, the challenge of working with field sales. It’s not that field sales doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s not that they don’t want to participate. This is new stuff and it doesn’t happen right away. And I’ve got a few more minutes here with our guest today on sales pipeline radio, Edward Roberts, director of product marketing. Honestly Edward, your LinkedIn profile still says director of product marketing at Distil, but I know you guys are sort of working through the acquisition with Imperva, so I’m curious to hear, you know, there’s things you may or may not be able to share all the details, but as you take what has clearly been a successful start to an ABM program, you talked before the break about somebody improved metrics and campaign results you’re seeing as you now take that and move that and merge that with another organization. What are some of the opportunities and challenges that you face at other companies and individuals might face as they take programs and now combine that with other cultures?
Edward: I think some of the problems is you get acquired, you’ve been swallowed up by a larger organization that has more SDRs and more salespeople. And so some of the goods parts of it can be made better, right? You have more investments, you have more budget, for example, to put towards maybe search ads or any ad campaign that you might be putting within the program. So you have increased ability to make it a little bit more noise, but you also have the problem of you now you’re trying to deal with an exponentially larger sales force and trying to get that sales alignment so those problems can be exacerbated just by scale. And then, so that’s the challenge we’ve had. We’ve, we’ve tried to do one ABM campaign already since the acquisition that’s underway right now. So the results are still being worked through.
We’ve got a larger budget than we had previously. So that’s obviously always a benefit in terms of the things that you can do and more tools than we had right when we were at Distil we were using less tools and we were doing it with, with the typical things that we had, we went buying anything special focused on ABM. We were tracking it in a spreadsheet and doing those things and making sure that we got the program underway and got things going out. And so I think as we go to move down the evolution of it, you might sort of look at expanding what the marketing stack is and what tools would you use that might be more focused on ABM and some of those are available within Imperva, so that’s the evolution. We’re seeing benefits, but we’re also seeing some of these problems of scale of trying to get that alignment that I talked about.
Matt Heinz: So as we look at 2020 and that’s a really good segway into thinking about the new year. Given the success you’ve had, given the opportunities you now have with, you know, potentially a little more budget, a little more resources. How are you looking at evolving and growing the account based work into 2020 what are some of the bigger opportunities you see and what are some of the obstacles you see that might be you know, something you want to keep it keep in mind to try to navigate through over the next 12 to 14 months?
Edward: Yeah, I think it’s a different set of problems because when you are a smaller organization and you sold a smaller number of products, you were focused on selling those products and any new work was tying two existing contacts that you already had and you would try to kind of nurture them along new sales. Whereas now we’re going into a larger organization where there are already established relationships and customer relationships with other products that aren’t the one that we are trying to push. And so you have the ability now to probably upsell a little bit better.
So rather than what you were doing before, which was all Greenfield. And so I think that opportunity is slightly different than, so can you, how do you handle upsell to key target accounts that are already existing within Imperva? You know, that’s where the focus has shifted is that, you know, how do you get inside those organizations that are already purchasing other products and trying to add it? So you’re now dealing with different things of packages and promotions and other tactics rather than just simple or a typical ABM campaign that we were doing before. So it’s definitely become a little bit more complicated, but the focus is because the focus is very different based on how well was the organization that sells other products.
Matt Heinz: All right. We just got a few more minutes here with our guest today on sales pipeline radio, Edward Roberts, the director of product marketing at Imperva. And I’m curious, you give in your career thus far, who are some people that have been particularly influential for you? They can be professors, authors, managers, people that you have been impacted by that you might recommend other people check out and learn from as well.
Edward: Oh, and I, you know, you’re putting me on the spot to name people that, I know there’s been a bunch of people that I’ve worked with over the years who have been very helpful in sort of focusing the mind. So I, CEO of Mykonos, a guy by the name of David Koretz, he had one comment that I always thought was really pithy with, you know, working with a startup. He said, make, make thousand dollar bets. Don’t make $10,000 bets, and then let’s learn from them. So it was sort of me and make sure we were focused on the budget. Then it makes sure that we’re not overly spending when we’re just testing things out.
Let’s test and iterate quickly and do it for the cheapest possible, but let’s get some, some data and keep moving things forward. So that was one, it’s me talking about people that they know in a, in marketing wise, I’ve kind of been reading a lot of Edward Tufty in terms of how to show things and doing for graphics and things like that about data visualization. I think that’s kind of interesting stuff to read. And then I think I’ve also done a lot of work on presentations in terms of looking at how do you use slides and pictures and stuff like PowerPoint and all that sort of stuff. So I think some of the work of Nancy Duarte and people like that have been interesting. So those are people that I’ve done a lot of reading of and one that I worked with.
Matt Heinz: It’s interesting. Hear your last comment about sort of just visualization and images and the visual elements of the unity I think is one, I think it’s B2B marketers. We tend to focus a lot more on the written word and not as much on what we’re actually seeing. And looking at and how that impacts the senses and how that actually impacts tactically, strategically our interest in moving forward.
Edward: Yeah. I think the visual pop is, there’s different learners, right? Some people are readers, some people like it visual, some people like to experience things. So you have to find, hit all those learning modalities. So I think those are, you know, you have to make sure you’ve got content that covers the way people learn. And I think we’ve got to be thinking about visual, what you know, why is video so, so powerful? Because it’s, you know, 90 seconds, a quick click and you can read it and see it and visualize it and it becomes apparent to you. Whereas I’m like, take you five minutes to read something about it. So it’s a, you’ve got to pick your vehicle and your media. But you know, I think the visual stuff can sometimes get things across a lot quicker.
Matt Heinz: Yeah, I agree. And I think you know when you have their audience is busier than ever when they’re more skeptical than ever when they’re not. You know, it’d be we give new people and new companies a little less time these days to prove themselves and accounting something that stands out makes a big, big difference. I know we’re running out of time here. I want to thank again our guest today, Edward Roberts, director of product marketing for Imperva.
If you’d like this conversation and you’d like to share this discussion with others on your team, we will have a replay of this episode up on a salespipelineradio.com in a couple of days. It’ll be part of the feed of now approaching. We’re getting close to 200 episodes here, Paul. I’ve been doing this for a while. It’s crazy. We’ll have a transcript, a summary of this conversation about heinzmarketing.com in a couple of weeks and we’ve got some great guests. Going to finish off 2019 for said that someone internally mentioned the other day we are headed as we finish this year into the roaring twenties Paul of the new of the new millennium of the new century. So very excited for that. That’s it for today. We’ll offered on behalf my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks again to Edward for joining us today and we’ll see you next week on sales pipeline radio.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.