Hubspot and other investors are placing additional bets on Account Based Marketing (ABM) solutions, which they see as a critical component of the marketing mix. So, recently, on DemandGen Radio, we interviewed Sangram Vajre, founder of the #FlipMyFunnel movement and author of ABM for Dummies to hear his insights on why people are embracing ABM yet struggling a bit to understand what’s needed to embrace it.
David: Terminus announced the closing of $10.3 million round of Series B funding.
Sangram: Yes, we did! This is an investment in the ABM movement, so I’m fired up about it.
David: ABM has been around forever, but now people are talking about it. When I was at Ellie Mae in 2003, I met with Sig Anderman, he told me as head Marketing there, all I needed to do was go after the people in our database that should be our customers–the basics of ABM. And he was right; Ellie Mae leads its market. So, ABM has been working for companies for a long time but what’s changed is the tools and technologies supporting it. How were you able to create a company and movement around ABM?
Sangram: ABM is how marketing should be. Going after customers shouldn’t be a secret unless you don’t know who you’re selling to. The #FlipMyFunnel movement, which has driven the growth for Terminus and other companies, is based around the idea that we’ve been looking at the funnel wrong: fill the top with 1,000s of leads and maybe a few come out at the bottom. This method makes no no sense for B2B companies. Instead you have to 1) Identify the best accounts, 2) Expand how you’re interacting with them, and 3) Engage people on their terms. Emails don’t work; need to engage people where they are in the ways they want to be engaged. Technology lets you engage on the customers’ terms (via Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and so on). Engaging during normal business hours isn’t efficient anymore because everyone is online all times of the day.
Most blog posts don’t work, and most content strategies aren’t results driven. ABM puts some blinders on to get people focused on the best accounts and creating content that helps those contacts. For ABM to really work, Sales and Marketing need to be aligned about what the customer needs. You can’t do ABM without support and commitment from Sales.
Also, advocacy is essential. If you focus on the right accounts they’ll advocate for you, even if they’re not your customers, because they like you and they like what you’re saying.
David: At a recent conference, I was speaking with a colleague about the gap between skillsets in the art of marketing versus the technology that drives it. Is there a core competency needed across all of marketing?
Sangram: All science is art plus science. If anything is getting lost in today’s Marketing departments, it’s the storytelling. From company to company, a lot of the B2B messaging sounds similar. Where is the passion? Where is the problem they’re solving? It’s becoming robotic, and we’re forgetting to tell the story. You have to get your target audience emotionally attached to what you’re saying, and that can’t be automated. Sure, there’s a need to test and experiment different approaches and analyze the data you get through MarTech, but marketers will always need to sit in a room and brainstorm ways to tell the story and drive people to take action. In some companies, I notice there’s more of a debate around the color of a page or button, and that’s a mistake. The power is in how you tell the story.
David: How did ABM for Dummies evolve?
Sangram: It was a way to lend credibility to the process of flipping funnels with ABM. When the movement started, there wasn’t much written about ABM. We needed to provide something tangible at our conferences for attendees to keep.
David: Tell me about the Flip My Funnel conference.
Sangram: The conference is another way to educate people about ABM. Our first event in Atlanta drew 350 people, and we’ve done nine conferences to date. Sessions focus on creating alignment around ABM and bringing people and marketing thought leaders together to solve the problem. It’s becoming a major industry conference, and #FlipMyFunnel has become synonymous with ABM. We love that!
David: Make a prediction: Say it’s 2018. What’s happening in the MarTech landscape that people aren’t expecting now?
Sangram: Right now, marketers measure success by channel performance — “What is my ROI on a webinar,” for example. I predict a shift where ROI won’t be measured by channels, but by campaigns and programs running. A program includes everything from apps to emails; people won’t worry about the number of blogs produced, but what campaigns are moving the needle.
About DemandGen Radio
DemandGen’s PodCast Series features interviews with top industry experts, thought leaders, authors, marketing technology firms and senior marketing leaders from around the world about their methods and technologies for high-performance marketing. A replay of the full podcast with Sangram Vajre at www.DemandGenRadio.com.
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