Account-based marketing (ABM) is a term that has gained a great deal of traction over the past 12 months, but many still aren’t familiar with what it is. Wiley Publishing has just released “Account-Based Marketing for Dummies” to help people understand how ABM can help drive more B2B sales. Sangram Vajre, CMO and co-founder of ABM platform Terminus, wrote the book and shares with us his thoughts on how ABM can help sales and marketing teams get on the same page in order to speed up the sales process and close more deals faster.
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Small Business Trends: Maybe you can give me a little bit of your personal background.
Sangram Vajre: Sure. As Brent said, I’m the co-founder and CMO of Terminus. A lot of people don’t know this but Terminus is the original name of Atlanta so pretty proud to have that name being an Atlanta company. Prior to this, I ran marketing at Pardot and went to the acquisition of Exact Target and Sales Force within the span of two years. I really love marketing automation and all the innovation that’s happening in the marketing technology space. Pretty early on, have been fascinated by the idea of bringing sales and marketing together especially in B2B. Really that’s started off the journey for starting account based marketing as a concept to now a company. It’s really exciting to be doing this in Atlanta.
Small Business Trends: Maybe you can give me your definition of what exactly account based marketing is.
Sangram Vajre: I think there’s this shift that happens in marketing every five years. If you think about the 2000s everybody was starting to send emails and that was the big revelation in marketing, “Wow, we can actually do this mass marketing at scale. Let’s do a lot of it.” In the early days, email marketing statistics showed that email marketing is awesome, and everybody jumped on it. That was 2000s. In 2005, every marketing automation started to take hold. Since people are sending so much email and started doing so much content marketing that people wanted to start capturing those leads and marketing automation became the obvious way to set up forums and do email at scale but also nurture people through different channels.
Fast forward, and 2010 is when predictive came out. As a result of marketing automation, you have this issue of too many leads but not sure which leads are the best leads. If anybody downloads an eBook, not all these leads are equal and not everybody who downloads an eBook is your target audience. Predictive became a big part to solve that problem to figure out, how do I find out if these are the right kind of companies and leads or contacts that I want to go after. Fast forward again to now which has seen the rise of account based marketing. The future of marketing is all about how do I make sure we’re capturing leads through marketing automation, and know which companies to go after because of predictive and all kinds of scoring mechanisms that marketers have at their disposal; how do I make sure I do more with these accounts.
We all know that in B2B there are so many more people that are part of the decision making process and marketers are starting to figure out how do I engage all the influencers, all the decision makers in my target company and engage them on their terms, which is not only through email but through mobile, social, display, video, direct mail, whatever different channel it might be and how I can do those things at scale. I think that’s the problem that account based marketing solves; allowing marketers and salespeople to engage the right accounts now that they know which accounts to go after and engage all the decision makers on their terms for multiple different channels which is really a dream for a lot of marketers out there who are trying to do more than just emails.
Small Business Trends: How does account based marketing align with how folks sell? How B2B salespeople work?
Sangram Vajre: The most beneficial party in this whole process is the sales people. In B2B, the sales guys are the ones who are actually closing the deals. I’ll give you a great example and a lot of our customers do this all day long; the idea of pipeline velocity. Pipeline velocity is something where you have an account that has raised their hand and said, “Hey look. I’m interested in your product.” They fill out a demo request form or an outbound salesperson was able to set up a demo, whatever it might be. That account, that company, that person in that company has raised their hand and said, “We feel like you are one of those companies that can solve this problem for us. We want to talk.”
Now the salesperson is engaged, right? At this point the salesperson is only talking to that one person. By doing account based marketing, what you can now do is start an air cover campaign across all the decision makers in that one target company that is sharing that they actually have the pain point and they want to buy. Start engaging them across all these channels mobile, social, display, video, direct mail, all of those things because the chances of them closing is very high in most companies at this point in marketing.
Now marketing can play a pivotal role in making sure that every person in that target company is engaged and knows about your brand. It’s a very targeted campaign that marketing runs to helps sales without interrupting the sales process and engaging the people that the salesperson is not able to engage because the CEO, the executive of the company, they’re not going to download an eBook but they’re going to see direct mail or they’re going to see an ad that’s really targeted to them and their pain point. That’s kind of velocity and we’re seeing customers increasing their win rate by 200 percent just because they’re able to hyper focus on a few sets of companies.
Small Business Trends: You wrote the book Account-Based Marketing for Dummies. What are some of the top couple of things that you would like people to walk away with after reading the book?
Sangram Vajre: I interviewed 50-plus leaders and influential people in the whole marketing and sales space and this book is really a curation of a lot of their ideas and thoughts. There’s probably one thing that I will leave everyone with and hopefully it will make sense is the idea of flipping the funnel. I call it flip my funnel so you can check it out on flipmyfunnel.com. The idea behind it is the funnel, as most B2B sales and marketing people know, is broken, it’s leaky, it’s not working and it hasn’t been challenged for over a decade and a half. It’s broad at the top.
Anybody who downloads an eBook for example is a lead. It’s someone that a sales person is supposed to follow up but you know when you look at it it’s pretty skinny at the bottom and you have very few customers that fall off it. Instead of all of that, what I’m proposing in this book is a new way of looking at sales and marketing, especially in B2B. We just do flip it. Start with the best flip customers, you can get that information from a host of different companies like data.com, Salesforce, LinkedIn. There’s a ton of companies that can tell you which companies to go after if you know who you are trying to reach based on the industry or the segment or whatever it is. Then you expand the reach within those companies, not to everyone else, but within those companies to get after the right people. That’s the second step. Identify the company. The second is to expand to the right audience in those companies.
The third one is then engage people on their terms, which is what I’ve been talking about through all the other channels that we all love to engage as opposed to just one channel. Lastly, turn them into advocates. Identify, expand, engage, advocate is kind of the new way of marketing and sales and that’s one thing that I would really love for people to do. Give it a shot, take a look at it, and let me know what they think about it.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.