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"The Past, Present and Future of Account-Based Marketing Ft. Sangram Vajre of Terminus" (Inbound Success Ep. 80)

"The Past, Present and Future of Account-Based Marketing Ft. Sangram Vajre of Terminus" (Inbound Success Ep. 80) Blog Feature

March 4th, 2019 min read

How are some companies using account-based marketing to shorten the sales cycle, increase penetration in key accounts, and improve customer NPS scores?

Sangram Vajre
Sangram Vajre

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Terminus Co-Founder Sangram Vajre shares his insights on the past, present, and future of account-based marketing, including who it is right for and how the sales and marketing teams of the future will be able to use buyer fit and intent data to laser target the accounts with the highest likelihood of closing.

This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live,  the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel.

Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS". 

Click here to learn more or purchase tickets for IMPACT Live

Some highlights from my conversation with Sangram include:

  • Sangram says that the easiest way to think about ABM is that it is focused marketing and sales activity.
  • The best use cases for ABM are for companies with larger transaction value sales or those who are going after a smaller audience within a larger marketing strategy.
  • ABM solves for a challenge that many companies experience. Specifically, it is a way to address situations where a company might be generating a lot of leads, but the sales team feels they are of poor quality.
  • ABM 1.0 was about identifying the top 100 target accounts and going after those using targeted ads, custom landing pages, and direct mail campaigns.
  • ABM 2.0 takes it a step further and uses buyer fit and intent data to automatically identify the best fit companies - the ones that are most likely to close - and then develop ABM campaigns around them.
  • The ABM of the future could use artificial intelligence to take that buyer intent and fit data and then automatically build landing pages and ABM campaigns for those prospects.
  • Sangram believes that in the future, marketing is actually going to own setting sales quotas because they will be the team that has that fit and intent data, which will make them more accurate in forecasting what can actually close.
  • ABM is best suited to companies with a high degree of organizational readiness (meaning they are bought into the approach from the CEO down and they have a "one team" kind of mindset) and with larger sales transaction values.
  • The three primary use cases for ABM are for acquisition, pipeline velocity, and customer satisfaction.

Resources from this episode:

Listen to the podcast to learn how ABM is evolving and what the most successful ABM campaigns do to get results.



Transcript

Kathleen Booth (Host):Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast.I'm Kathleen Booth and I'm your host and today my guest is Sangram Vajre from Terminus. He is the chief evangelist and cofounder. Welcome Sangram.

Sangram Vajre (Guest): Thank you, Kathleen. Excited to be on the show.

Sangram Vajre and Kathleen Booth
Sangram and Kathleen recording this episode

Kathleen: I am excited to have you here. I have not had anyone come on and talk about account based marketing before. Before we jump into that though, I would love it if you could tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and about Terminus and also ABM in case people don't know what it is.

Abount Sangram and Terminus

Sangram: All right. Sure. And as you said, I started to cofound Terminus about four years ago and prior to that I ran marketing at Pardot, which took me to this to acquisition within a year of Exact Target acquiring Pardot and then Salesforce acquiring Exact Target.

So all of a sudden I went from running marketing for 100 people company for 10 million revenue all of a sudden to running it at Salesforce which was just incredible.

It was a moment where I think I realized, I think I understood the meaning of scale. At Salesforce, I really had no idea before that.

Kathleen: Trial by fire, right?

Sangram: Totally. Totally. It's an incredible machine. And then co-founded Terminus. Ended up writing the first book on account based marketing that was published in 2016, believe it or not. So I'm about to write my second book this year and along the way started and really built this community called #FlipMyFunnel, which is all about challenging the status quo of marketing and sales. We have about 10,000 people in that community and a lot of really fun. It's awesome to see so many people doing some level of account based marketing. And I'm happy to share more through examples or stories of how incredible things are happening in companies.

Kathleen: I was really impressed with the community that you all have built. I had Nikki Nixon, who was the head of the Flip My Funnel community, on one of my earliest episodes and community is something that we at IMPACT are very focused on and so it was really interesting to me to hear that story of how it got started and how particularly through some of the events you've held, that community has grown over the years.

Sangram: Community is something, I have a saying on the #FlipMyFunnel podcast we talk about is really that without a community you are simply a commodity.

"Without a community you are simply a commodity"

- Sangram Vajre

Click to Tweet this quote

And if you think about anything like Hubspot for example, is an investor in Terminus. And I remember spending time with both Brian and Dharmesh then they became an investor in our company and I asked him why are you spending so much time and money on inbound? And they said, look, if somebody has to go build somebody that's going to compete with Hubspot toe to toe, first thing they need to go need to go and do is build a 20,000 plus community and hundreds of thousands of other people that are not even at this event but are online, they have to go build all that moat around them in order to even start to begin to compete with them at that level.

So there is so much power in community and so do and Salesforce and Drift. And so I don't think we did anything new. I just felt like we definitely stumbled on this idea and thankfully and gratefully have been able to nurture it.

Kathleen: Yeah, and it might not be something new, but I am amazed at how much we as marketers talk about the importance of community but so few brands and companies actually bother to truly invest in doing it. Kudos to you for following through.

Sangram: I appreciate that.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Kathleen: So #FlipMyFunnel, I've always liked that name, too, because to me it so perfectly defines in marketing speak at least what ABM is in a way that anyone can understand. But to to rewind a little bit, let's go back to account based marketing. That's really what I wanted to talk to you about.

How do you define account based marketing? Because I've heard it defined many different ways.

Sangram: Yeah. So I'm not gonna give any analysty kind of definition. I think everybody can find a million different answers for that. I think quite simply to me it is focused marketing and sales activity, and that's all it is, really.

So if you were in B2C where you are selling Nike shoes to any and everybody in the world, it makes sense to go after any and everybody in the world. But if you're selling to, let's say Fortune 500 financial services company for your supply chain product, guess what? There are only maybe 50 of them. So why in the world do we want to create content and qualification and all the processes that we all have created that has a roadblock to it?

Why not start with the best fit accounts to begin with and then expand within the reach within them and then engage them and then turn into advocates. Why not focus on the 50 as opposed to 5,000 to find the 50? B2C has that problem. B2B thankfully does not have that problem. So that's why I think ABM is so cool.

Kathleen: Yeah, it definitely makes sense that that larger transaction value that small audience, or the small audience within the bigger marketing strategy. So Terminus as a platform enables companies to more effectively do account based marketing.

For the person listening who is either familiar with ABM or maybe not familiar but interested in learning more, tell me a little bit about what kinds of successes you've seen companies have with it. And honestly like how does it work? So if somebody says, I want to do focused marketing, what does that really mean at a practical level?

Sangram: Well. So let's walk through an example of your document before we started to record, which is a company called Masergy is great customer of ours. They are in cloud communications and computing so I think most people can relate to that as a technology company and Malachi who runs their marketing is a phenomenal guy. We had him speak at a lot of the conferences and podcasts and all that stuff.

So let me walk through almost status quo ABM 1.0 if you will and ABM 2.0. And I think as audience is listening to this and maybe they can figure out where they belong in this journey that you may be or may not be right now and trying to figure out to be on.

So Malachi was in one of these incredible inbound marketers where he generated 25,000 leads, got 25,000 leads and he heard all the time from the sales team is like, well, they're not qualified. They're not relevant. They're not the right people and as you might know, Forrester came out with the research in 2016 I think that less than 1% of the leads are turning into customers.

Kathleen: I was going to say, I'm pretty sure every single marketer that is listening has heard exactly that complaint from their sales team before.

Sangram: And that's purely because we are going after again first trying to get any and everybody and then try to qualify it as opposed to going after the right people. So the problem is something that I think we have to own that we have created to begin with.

So in a status quo world, I feel if you are marketing it and that's how the challenges you feel like at think of it as the status quo, that is pretty much what's happening in 90% of the company and it's unfortunate. I think we all need to wake up and look at it and think like, hey, it's not really sales problem. It's actually a marketing problem that we need to fix. So that's kind of where I feel he found himself as well a couple of years ago.

Then he moved into this, what I would call AB 1.0 where I think more and more companies are finding themselves now who are jumping on the bandwagon of ABM which is saying, okay, well that's not working. Sending these 25,000 leads is not working. What do I do? Let me find the right people. Let me just go and select top 100 accounts that my sales and marketing team can focus on. That might be on a vertical, that might be based on sales stage that you are having difficulty converting, or it might be a sector or whatever it might be. So I think most people are now finding a top 100 accounts that I want to focus on.

And to your point like, well how do you do it? What you really do and most companies are doing, they're running one to one campaign for each one of these hundred accounts. That means they'll have an ad that talks to that exact company and all the people in that company.

So you're running advertising through platforms like Terminus and Google or whatnot. Then you are taking them to a landing page that doesn't ask for their mother's maiden name. It actually gives them the whole information about how you can actually help their industry and them and others in their industry be successful.

So there's no gating of information. It's actually now your customers are going to spend more time on that page because you're literally taking to a page that is custom made for them and then you can add direct mail or stuff like that, too, to kind of engage them.

Now you can do all of these things because you're only focused on top hundred. You're not focused on everybody. So you can do a digital advertising, you can do a Linkedin campaign, you can do a direct mail campaign, you can have a landing page that is focused on them, a stream of content videos for them.

It's all possible when sales and marketing is working together at 1.0 level. And the results of that one, just in case of Malachi and Masergy they have over 250% penetration rate within the accounts they want to go after compared to any other account that they're targeting. Right? I think they knocked off a month in the sales process.

So now they're closing deals much faster. Now you can imagine what kind of revenue impact you have in your organization when you're actually taking one month off your sales process. So how many more opportunities can your sales team work on?

So their results are fantastic, but that's just because they're able to focus on the top hundred accounts. Right?

Kathleen: So if I understand correctly, I'm a company and let's say I want to land Coca Cola as an account. I might set up ads via either Google or Linkedin or what have you that are targeted just at people who work for Coca Cola and then those ads are going to direct them back to a landing page that's either about the beverage industry or I guess it could specifically be about Coca Cola.

Sangram: It actually should be. It could literally say your company plus Coke equals whatever because we do x,y,z.

Kathleen: Yeah, and then potentially as you said, other items like direct mail, et cetera and the goal of all this is to get in front of and raise brand awareness amongst as many people within Coca Cola or at least within the right parts of Coca Cola as possible. Is that accurate?

Sangram: Exactly and the reason you want to do that at that level is because we all know in B2B the decision making is by committee where there are five, seven, nine, 10 people are the decision making process. If all 10 people have heard about you and have seen your message and they may never fill up a form but they all have some sort of input in the buying process.

Well if the CFO, the CEO, the head of sales, the head of procurement, and all of them have seen your brand chances as are you going to have somewhat of an in in that company because of the brand awareness you've created, but you can't create that level of brand awareness unless you are focused on them.

Kathleen: Now, how do you do this without having the intended target feel like it's creepy.

Sangram: It's creepy beyond creepy. But I think we all have sold our rights to privacy in many ways when we sign up for Facebook, when we signed up for websites that have over digital kind of body language to it.

So in many ways, I'm one. So we do Terminus, one of the things beyond analytics and all this stuff that we do for canvas marketing as a platform, but one of the things we do is we do is digital advertising and I'm not someone who typically clicks on a lot of ads or digital advertising.

I actually hate it. And I've told the founder of this company, but I loves ad when it actually does and serve a purpose for me. So for example, if I am looking for something and if I get the right message at the right time, it is an awesome thing. Otherwise it's annoying to me.

Kathleen: I was just saying this, I was taking the train home on Saturday from a week away for work and I had, this is such a side story, but it's relevant. For Christmas, I wanted this one pair of slippers.

Sangram: Yeah.

Kathleen: And I didn't get it. And all of a sudden on the train, on the way home, this ad pops up and the slippers are on sale and darned if I didn't buy them within like five minutes of getting the ad. And it's exactly what you're talking about. I mean, this is it more of a B2C example. But yeah, I mean they knew I was interested. It was the right time and it was immediate, it was an easy yes.

Sangram: Yeah.

Kathleen: And I don't like ads either for what it's worth.

Sangram: Exactly, none of us do, but we all value whatever is timely and convenient for us or the needs that we have. So I may not like a cupcake ad that pops up randomly for me, but I would love an ad for the right book or the right thing that I want.

And B2B software is no different. If you're looking for it and you find the right connection, then you will spend time. So a company like Masergy is finding true success because these people are not converting on their website like the status quo thing. They're actually spending more time looking at oh this is good, this is great for our financial. They seem to have a great case study with a similar customer in our industry so they get our problem. They know what the messaging is exactly what you would create because you know enough about Coke so the messaging is going to be about it so they care.

Like those are the feelings that you invoke in your future customer that standard marketing doesn't really do. So that's 1.0. And 2.0 sorry, go ahead.

ABM 2.0

Kathleen: Yeah, no, that's what's going to be my next question is, all right, so what's 2.0?

Sangram: If that's exciting enough for be people. If you're dipping your toes that already may feel overwhelming, but the reality is that if you truly care and if the deal size is big enough and if you can truly forward the velocity, it's really worth it.

Now, if you're a transactional business where you're spending like 10 bucks a month subscription, it probably is not worth doing all the effort on it.

Now ABM 2.0 is really interesting because now you go from this silo approach off like everybody and anybody and I need to go in and figure out who I need to go after and see less than 1% of the customers to the top hundred accounts and now it's super targeted, super engaged and connected and all that stuff. But now I'm getting proactive around my outreach and all that stuff is to this idea of running my entire business like that. Right?

Imagine all of the target accounts that you want to go after now, not just hundreds, but maybe let's say your total addressable market is 3,000 accounts, right? And you know that your product or service is suited for those 3,000 accounts. Imagine having the ability to have a fit and intent score where you will say, okay, these 3,000 accounts have fit. These are great accounts.

I just want to know whenever there is intent to buy any of these accounts somewhere online, if they're researching on G2 Crowd for a similar software. I want to know if somebody in that company is reading articles that have the keywords that I care about, I want to know. Right?

So the fit and intent if you can combine that beyond the hundred accounts and say of these 3,000 accounts, any account that is the right fit and intent, I need to be alerted so that my sales can be prioritizing the experience for them.

And then the same play that we talked about at 1.0, I can replicate it in a prioritized way for the accounts that are in market right now. And I think that's when you're running your business on a very hyper targeted, hyper personalized at scale.

Kathleen: Now how do you, you talked about intent and some of the examples you gave were things that would happen off of your own web assets. So not on your website. It might be like you said, G2 crowd, for example. How are companies able to access this kind of intent data?

Sangram: Oh, there's tons of providers right now in the market place. Like G2 crowd themselves would provide the intent. 

Terminus connects with like you know Bombora. Bombora is another good one.

DiscoverOrg would give you that information.

Linkedin will give you that information now.

Even G2 crowd as a set.

And so there are tons of companies who are starting to pull all this information together and we as a platform, we are trying to hook up into all of them and say, okay, well we can run this for 100, but the beauty would be then you can run this for 3,000 and not leave anybody out there who's the right fit and has the intent right now because that's when you're going to win faster at a much higher level when you know the company that's in market.

So all of these companies, they're more and more companies actually coming up with this data.

Kathleen: That's interesting what you said about that you're really trying to hook up with all these different platforms. Because the first question that was going to come into my head was, I'm hearing a lot of companies talk about using CDPs, customer data platforms, in order to tie together the data they have in all different places. But it sounds like the direction you're moving, that wouldn't be necessary. You essentially would be the CDP.

Sangram: Sure. I mean that's exactly right. Like we, I remember the really early days. Initially our thought was, hey, we're going to look at all the people in everybody's CRM and start helping them do advertising to them. What we quickly realized, everybody's data is shit. Like it's crap. And there's nothing in there. Like a lot of them are not updating data and there's all kinds of, there's the same companies alert seven different ways in CRM, like we all have the same issues.

I'm like, okay, that's not gonna work. So we only get the names of the companies from our customers and the type of persona they want to target. Then we use our own intelligence by partnering with Linkedin and D&B and NetProspex and so many different data providers so that we have a clean set off information and then we are proactively targeting them and giving intelligence back to our customers. They're like, whoa, that's great.

So I think you're absolutely right. I think we are relying a lot on good data from third party sources because most CRMs and most marketing automations, the data is not clean.

Kathleen: Amen to that. It's terrible. It really is. It's my biggest pet peeve is just the garbage that's in these databases.

Sangram: Yeah.

Kathleen: So interesting. Okay, so it sounds like the key shift there from ABM 1.0 to 2.0 is in 1.0 you're manually creating your target list and in 2.0 you have a system in place that feeds your targets to you that is essentially automated. Is that accurate?

Sangram: Exactly. Right, and now you're going back to okay, you want to automated, but now you want to automate it or you want to create this personalized experience, but now you are creating that personalized experience for anyone that is in market that has the right fit as opposed to this arbitrary hundred companies that I have decided because they sound great or my sales team said that this is important. Now I'm actually running my business on the smart content.

What Will ABM Look Like In the Future?

Kathleen: Well now I'm really curious to hear what your predictions will be for what ABM 3.0 will look like. Cause I have some ideas that I've gotten as I've listened to you talk and I'm curious to know if they're going to be similar to what you come up with.

Sangram: I don't know. I just came up with 2.0. I don't know what we get going.

Kathleen: I mean the first thing I thought of was if the second step is the system basically feeds you, these are the companies you should go after. In my head, I'm thinking, well the third step is then you have a system, an artificial intelligence system, that just spins up the landing pages.

Sangram: Oh yeah.

Kathleen: From your relational database. It says, oh they're financial services. Well we have that template. Pop their name in and then it's really truly the robots are doing our jobs for us.

Sangram: Oh you, you are spot on when it comes to personalization of this whole experience. I mean right now people are throwing bodies at it.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Sangram: Hey, you know what? Go create 50 landing pages. We have a customer Snowflake for example. They're running 500 one to one campaigns. 500. They have 15 people now I think six and by end of Q one, so by end of Q one they're supposed to have 15 people with the title of account based marketing. So you can think about how they are because they're like, well, does every one of them have regions and then helping to personalized experiences for it.

So we are actually in some ways putting bodies in place because we don't know if there is a way to automate all of this experience because it's so rich and so valuable and so unique in many ways right now.

Kathleen: I'm sure we're not far off from it.

Sangram: Oh, no.

Kathleen: So talk me through the one thing we haven't really touched much upon. We've talked about ABM from the marketer's standpoint. Walk me through at what point in this process in an ideal world, should sales enter into the equation and what does that hand off look like? Are they involved the whole way?

The Marketing To Sales Handoff In ABM

Sangram: There is no handoff. I think that's where we got it wrong. I feel like some of the blame is on me as well as part of that, that old group of people. I feel like there is no hand off. Sales and marketing hundred percent has to agree on the way this is going to work. Otherwise you can't create a personalized experience. If the sales person's not going to call as soon as the direct mail is hit to the right person, then you know it's not gonna work.

If the sales person is not going to follow up when they see an increased activity of the right accounts on your website because you have get rid of all the forms and now you have five kind of right people on their website if they don't do that work that's needed to follow up on, then in the B2B world, it's still not going to work.

People are not going to just come and swipe credit cards if you're selling a $100,000 product. So sales are super important.

What's bigger difference I think if you want to go the predictions route is I think marketing is going to own the process of figuring out who to go after because they're going to have fit and intent data.

So imagine as a marketer and you could say, hey, we want to open an office in, we want to expand our business, great. Based on the information that I have from all of these different technologies that I'm able to cobble up together, I can see that in Boston there is the highest concentration or best fit future customers. There is a lot of intense action going on over there, too. So we should open a sales office in Boston and put two people in there because based on the quota that we are hitting, it makes sense that two sales people.

So imagine that a marketer can set up sales quota and not only that, a marketer can figure out the forecasting of which deals are going to close. Because a lot of times the sales would say, oh, I think 30% of them are going to close. And a lot of times, quite honestly they have no clue. Nobody has any clue why somebody went dark or what happened there. Right?

But now marketer can say, hey look. And we have seen this happen at Terminus and a lot of customers say, look of these 10 deals that you planned that they're going to close this month, let me tell you, 7 of them have not even spent a minute on our website in the last month and a half. So let's get rid of the bullshit. There are only 3 that we can have a full opportunity to close. Why not just focus on these three? We know there's interest in there. Let's do more campaign. Maybe do a in house dinner over there and try to close the deals with these three because the seven, the chances are they're not going to close this month in the next two days, right?

So that level of intelligence in the front portal, from fit and intent and then forecasting, is unique and new and I think the marketer is going to be in the driver's seat.

Kathleen: I feel like all the sales people who are listening are going, "No way. Marketing's not going to set my quotas."

Sangram: I think they want it. If they are smart to recognize the power in this thing, I think they would want it because they can actually have a higher quota at a much higher velocity and they would actually be doing what they're the best at, which is influencing the deal and closing it.

But marketers can now, we are all going to be more of an intelligence provider. Here's the intelligence of who you should go after. Here's the intelligence who can close faster, so maybe focus. We are really helping sales team to do their best and I feel like the future really is going to be where sales fully embraces marketing's role in helping them win more deals.

ABM and GDPR

Kathleen: Interesting. One thing that came to mind as I was listening to you describe all the disparate sources of data, especially the intent data, the first question that came into my head is how does this all fit within the increasing movement towards giving users more control over their information and privacy and GDPR? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Sangram: Yeah, I think it's great because you're no longer emailing people without their permission. And the advertising that you're seeing are proactive advertising and interest that you have already shown interest for, which is why you bought those slippers because you kind of wanted that.

Kathleen: They had my number, I'll tell ya.

Sangram: They had all information that you have willingly provided to them. So I think as long as it is helpful, I think people are going to be okay with it.

I think the reason GDPR is actually good is because people are spamming, right? People send a newsletter which is all about it and people want a newsletter that's all about who is getting the email is coming too. So it's such a different thing.

I think all of that is happening because we just don't know who can bite the bullet. We don't know who's going to pay the bill. We don't know who's going to buy the product or service.

In this model, because you're focused on a few that actually matter, that's why you heard me never say or use the word "prospect" in the process. You're prospecting is dead because the only prospect that you don't know if they're going to be a customer or not. In this case it's all future customers because you've already done the homework to figure it out if they're best fit and can you serve them or not? Have you served other people like them or not? If it's not best fit, you shouldn't be spending any time with them at all.

Who Is Account-Based Marketing Right For?

Kathleen: Yeah. So there are a lot of companies that are practicing account based marketing. Tell me a little bit about who this is right for in terms of the type of company, because they're obviously, it does take a certain degree of manpower to build out these assets. There's an investment on the front end especially if they're going to buy a platform like Terminus.

Sangram: Yeah, totally. So I think there are two ways of thinking about that, Kathleen. One is the organizational readiness, because no matter how many resources you have, I've seen it fail tremendously in many, many ways. And one of the one was that the organization is not ready to adopt that. So I'll talk about that in a sec. And then the other way is also to figure out like are we selling and do we know who we're selling to and as the audience really open to it? So I'll get into that as well.

So organizational readiness, meaning if you have a sales driven quota or marketing, sales driven culture or marketing driven culture, then this is not going to work because it has to have a "one team" kind of mindset.

This will only work when organizations fully understand the importance of doing it. And believe it or not, it starts with the CEO, not CMO or CSL. It actually starts with the CEO because it's a business transformation that we're talking about. We're talking about clarity around having aware of what your total addressable market is.

I'm sure if you ask your audience right now, I would guarantee, majority of them will not know what their total addressable market looks like. How many exact number of customers they can potentially sell to this year. That was like, these questions are not something marketers jump into. Typically they are like siloed in the sales world or maybe. Like everybody, the CEO to the board, to the CFO to the CMR, everybody has to agree on the total addressable market and that's organization readiness.

So if you don't have that kind of stuff, I think it's going to fail and I've seen it fail. It might succeed. but I've seen in fail more than not.

And the other part is around the idea that are you selling like let's say you're selling $50,000 product which has an annual subscription which you can upserve in the next couple of months or a couple of years to $100,000 or $150,000, ABM is perfect for you. That makes perfect sense.

But if you're selling for like 10 bucks, Dropbox kind of subscription fee kind of stuff, unless it has a tremendous potential then it won't make sense for you to do it because the cost of acquisition will go off the roof.

So this is really for accounts that that do matter and have a higher revenues. Mid market, if you're selling to mid market and enterprises, even if you're a small shop, so this is, I want to really clarify, I've seen companies that are really small, like 10 people shop be wildly successful because they sell $100,000 $200,000 worth of services or product. And I've seen companies that are big companies, even public companies that are selling to SMB, they are not successful at all because if your target audience is smaller and it just won't work, you'll have to scale so much.

What Kinds of Results Can You Expect With ABM?

Kathleen: Right. And what about results? Like do you have some examples of what companies have seen as a result of doing these types of campaigns?

Sangram: Well, I mean, some of it, what we talked about Masergy where their engagement rate and I think penetration within the right kind of targeted council is up by 250%. They knocked off a sales month from their entire sales process because they were able to do that. To me, that that sounds like millions of dollars. Even beyond that, 85% of their revenue came from one product and they have three more products to sell. So they have to figure out a way to upsell the other two products and they just were trying to create awareness.

So now you're going apply ABM to customer marketing. So you already know the customers that have this one product, let's say cloud computing. You say, okay, now I want to run the same ad to other business units or other personas in that company making your customer like somebody in their company look like hero and show how you're helping that business owner.

So if you're selling to GE and you have one business unit and you want to sell it or the business unit, it's awesome. Like that's a hundred percent ABM. So what they found out that they are creating more sticker products line and business line for them, but most importantly, and this was this was the best, that they found that their NPS score, which is the net promoter score for the customers who bought more than two products after they launched the ABM because they knew so much about them already as the best fit, went up from 70% to 90%.

So think about that for a second. You're not only serving your customers and upselling your own process services, because you're serving the right people and because your focus again is on the right people, you're able to serve them, you really are able to solve their problems so you're not trying to close more deals, you're trying to close the right deals. So they're going to be more delighted than ever before because they're not going after everybody.

Kathleen: That is really interesting. I have never actually heard anybody talk about using ABM for upsells and cross sells.

Sangram: Actually that is the best use case than demand generation. I think because we're in marketing, we think we need more acquisition.

It's actually parsed into three - acquisition, pipeline velocity and customer marketing.

If you were to start ABM, if you have never jumped into ABM at all, I would say jumping into pipeline velocity or customer marketing first.

Pipeline velocity, which means if there is a deal in play and you know when it's going to close, let's say 30 days or 60 days, perfect. Your sales is going to be cooperative, the finance team is going to be looking at those deal, your CFO, CRO, everybody's in it. So if you can show movement there, you get by in there, so that's the best place to start 100% because that's where you're going to see you already have a good customer, why not get more of the from the good customer?

But pipeline velocity, Kathleen I think is a very understated area of focus and if you're piloting with the top accounts, it's not actually acquisition, that's the last place you want to go because you have no idea when they're going to be ready to truly buy. Pipeline velocity, customer marketing, I think that's where gold is.

Kathleen: Yeah, the customer marketing stuff is so interesting to me, because we always even, I mean we're not a huge, huge company. We're probably 65 people. But we always have this challenge as an agency when we offer a new service for the first time of how do we, you know, yes, can we send an email to every client we have? Absolutely.

But what's an effective way to keep reminding them that we do this now? Like for example, in the last year we added a full fledged video production and training department and some of our clients are really aware of it and others aren't. And it's just interesting to think about even just running an ad to clients saying, "did you know we do this" and directing them back to a landing page for customers only. Lots of ideas spinning now.

Sangram: I think that's beauty. ABM is not a tactic. It's a strategy. It's not a tool. If somebody says that, "Hey, we use Terminus and we're doing ABM" I would say you're not, because we're not doing direct mail, we are not doing call cadences. We are not doing a lot of the other things, the landing pages. So that's not it. We're not ABM.

We play a wider role in helping you enable an ABM program, but ABM is a strategy that you and your organization need to really care about and focus in the area of that you need the most help. And your use case of saying just, I mean that's the cheapest, the amount of, if you were looking at a dollar return, that's the best place to kind of put in. But we end up putting more money in acquisition than actually getting more from our own existing customers.

Kathleen: Absolutely. And if you have a tiny targeted audience, it's worth spending more per click or whatever the metric is because they're warm, so interesting. So you mentioned a couple of companies. Was it Masergy? I want to make sure that everyone knows how that's spelled so they can see it.

Sangram: Yeah. Masergy and Snowflake is another company. Phenomic is another company. We actually do something called internally called customer in the office. So every month we try to bring in a customer and have them share with you. That's why these stores are so fresh for me because every month I'm hearing from them literally how it's transforming their team, their sales and marketing relationship and their organization.

Kathleen: I love that customer in the office thing, that's great. Keeps me really close to not only the successes but some of the challenges people are facing. So definitely if you're listening go check out those companies to see some examples. It might not be obvious on their site, I'm guessing, because a lot of this is sort of happening behind the scenes under the curtain specifically directed towards their target customers.

Kathleen's Two Questions

Kathleen: Changing gears for a minute, I have a couple of questions that I always ask everyone who comes on this podcast. Curious to get your take on this. The first one is company or individual? Who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Sangram: Well, I mean the company probably comes to mind is Drift. I'm sure others have mentioned that as drip, like what David Cancel and David Gerhardt are doing. I feel like they're building a great category and it reminds us a lot of what we have done in the past, but I feel like they're doing it better then what we have done to be very honest. So it really, really feels good to see what they're doing.

Kathleen: Yeah, their names definitely come up a lot. And I did get to interview Dave Gerhardt. I was like, "I keep hearing your name, you have to come on the show."

Sangram: He's great and the team is awesome over there.

Kathleen: Second question, with the world of digital marketing changing so quickly, we kinda touched on this earlier with ABM even changing so quickly, how do you personally stay up to date and on top of all these new technological advancements and trends in marketing?

Sangram: I mean, just like you, I feel like I have, I think the podcast is a great way to learn. So I listen a lot of podcasts. I listen to Inbound. I listen to Donald Miller's podcast. And I almost sometimes go back to we need older books but instead of newer ones, because I think what hasn't changed is that we are all humans, thankfully, and what hasn't changed is the emotions and the feeling. And I feel like the more I go back to that, the better it gets.

So like podcasts is like the radio. It's back to radio. You're recording this thing and it's going to go live. That is crazy that it is the new thing right now. So I feel like podcasting is like the new white paper of the world.

Videos are like the new blogs of the way. In many ways you're just going back to some of the older ways of communicating just one to one in a very authentic way. So wherever that authenticity line goes, I try to follow that.

Kathleen: Right. And thank you for mentioning the specific podcasts that you like cause I'm always on the hunt for new ones.

Sangram: Yeah.

Connect With Sangram

Kathleen: So I'll definitely check those out. Well, if somebody has a question, wants to learn more about Terminus, or has a question about ABM, generally, what's the best way for them to find you online?

Sangram: Well, so I post on a very regular basis on Linkedin, so just find me, Sangram Vajre on Linkedin. Terminus is terminus.com. You sort of join the community, #FlipMyFunnel.

Kathleen: Great. And I'll post the links to all of those things in the show notes. If you're listening and you found value here, you know what to do, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice.

And if you know somebody who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at workmommywork because I would love to interview them.

Thank you, Sangram. It was great talking to you.

Sangram: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

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