Account-based marketing (ABM) is all the rage these days, and never more so than in the sessions and exhibit hall at the Revenue Summit 2017. Hosted by Sales Hacker and #FlipMyFunnel, the two-day summit brought sales and marketing professionals together to learn ABM best practices and cutting edge technologies to help scale their organizations. Here are highlights for B2B SaaS companies:

1. Less Than 1% of Leads Become Customers. 

Sangram Vajre, CMO & Co-Founder of Terminus and Founder of #FlipMyFunnel kicked off Day One with a session on “ABM Mega Trends.” According to Sangram, Sales and Marketing need to focus on the decision committee vs just the one person who filled out the form. To close B2B deals, you don’t close a person, you close an account. 

The hard stats:

  • On average, 7-12 people are part of the buying process – Gartner

  • Less than 1% of leads become customers – Forrester

What does a customer want?

  • Thoughtful personalization (not just surface level name / company personalization)
  • Engage on their terms with stuff the customer cares about
  • Show value. You should already understand the customer’s business – don’t ask them to explain it to you.

Best quotes:

  • You want your customer to think about you in the shower.
  • If you suck at marketing, you will suck at ABM. [#truth]

2. Response Times Rule and Death to Forms

In “The Shift From SaaS 1.0 To 2.0: Why Half Of You Will Go Out Of Business,” David Cancel, CEO of Drift and former CPO of HubSpot talked about how B2B companies need to respond to leads in realtime (5 minutes or less) to maximize their chances of connecting with that lead. This is almost impossible with the current approach of using forms for gathering leads into the funnel.

Drift did a blogpost on researching the response times of 433 sales teams. Only 7% of the companies responded within the first five minutes, and there is a 10x decrease in the odds of connecting with a lead after the first 5 minutes. Of the companies with the 10 fastest response times, all of them used live chat on their websites. However, most sales teams still aren’t using chat. Overall, just 14% of the 433 companies surveyed were using live chat.

Drift’s solution to the response time predicament? Kill all of their forms and create a new sales funnel for realtime selling. Customers are used to using messaging in their daily life now, with 9 out of 10 people expecting to be able to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses. Drift proposes using AI bots to deliver the right message at right time, and immediately alerting sales reps to know when target accounts are on the website. 

Are you at risk of not making it to market?

Find out nowRisk Calculator

3. Creating Your Tiered Target Accounts List is the Hardest Part of ABM

Lisa Skinner, VP, Demand Generation at Localytics

Lisa Skinner, VP, Demand Generation at Localytics spoke about how to start an ABM program in “Ready, Set, Start: Rocking ABM Account Selection from A to Z.” Localytics began implementing ABM in 2016 with this timeline:

  • January – Initiated ABM as an idea
  • March – Go to market strategy and account selection
  • May – Launched pilot with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Connections as the trigger event
  • July – Rollout of program 
  • October – Channel expansion
  • Q1 2017 – Account selection v2 and tweak recipe 

Localytics ABM Pilot Program

Results from Pilot Program

  • Targeted 68 tier 1 accounts 
  • Generated 24 meetings
  • Drove $229,000 in pipeline
  • Influenced $615,0000
  • ROI of 21% (driven pipe)
  • There’s still about $600k in play due to long sales cycle 

Results from the rollout for 2016 (July – December)

  • Targeted 873 accounts
  • Generated 188 meetings
  • Drove $3.5M in pipeline
  • ROI of 32% (driven pipe)
  • Notes: no trigger events for general effort and some campaigns worked better than others

Final Tips

  • The profit is in your account list. Prioritize resources around account selection and contact development to drive success.
  • You need a human review of the account data. It’s expensive to get data. 
  • Be willing to pivot.
  • Start small and just do it. Show early wins to foster excitement, buy-in, and resources.
  • Sales and Marketing alignment is critical

4. A Playbook of How to Expand Reach in Target Accounts

Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales and Stephanie Kelly, Director of Marketing Operations at Terminus

Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales and Stephanie Kelly, Director of Marketing Operations at Terminus shared how their teams are moving the needle and expanding reach in target accounts. Here are 3 slides that show Sales and Marketing touch point cadence for tier 1 accounts, actions both teams are doing to drive leads through the pipeline, and how they overlay campaigns into their channels.

Sales and Marketing touch point cadence for tier 1 accounts.

Everything is hyper-personalized all along the journey. There are at least 5 contacts per account, and they stagger the outreach with different emails to each contact. Sales people are incorporating personalized videos via Vidyard to emails. The goal is to create a halo effect around accounts. It’s not overwhelming them with all efforts blazing at once. Terminus takes a slower, but more effective approach.

Actions Sales and Marketing are doing to drive leads through the pipeline.

How Terminus overlays campaigns into their channels.

5. ABM + AI Deliver Customer Intimacy at Scale

Peter Isaacson, CMO and Aman Naimat, SVP of Product at Demandbase presented “AI in an ABM World,” talking about how we’ve replaced intimacy with volume, yielding poor results:

  • Digital ads – lucky if you get < .15% click thru
  • Marketing automation < 4% click rate from hundreds of thousands of emails 
  • Leads < .3% conversion 
  • Inbound / outbound sales development < 2% conversion to win 

Data is great and insights are better, but you need to automate the action to deliver the message. By optimizing the buyers journey, you can shrink the sales cycle from 12 – 18 months to 3 weeks with the right messages delivered at the right time.

Actual Buyers Journey

Optimized Buyers Journey

Best quotes from Peter:

  • Golf was the old school way to form relationships, but it doesn’t scale. 
  • ABM and AI deliver intimacy at scale – which is not a euphemism for an orgy…

6. When Sales and Marketing are Aligned, ABM Really Works 

Adam New-Waterson, VP of Demand Generation at RevJet moderated a panel with Sonjoy Ganguly, SVP Product Management of Madison Logic, Anastasia Pavlova, Senior Director of Marketing at Marketo, and Mike Burton, Co-Founder and SVP of Data Sales at Bombora, outlining “ABM that Sales Won’t Roll Their Eyes At.” A variety of topics were covered but here are a few golden nuggets:

How does marketing best engage sales in the most intelligent way for ABM?

Marketing and Sales evolve together. It’s not about another dashboard for Salesforce. It’s when there’s a collaborative approach to meet each week and identify which accounts we are going after that week. What insights can we use. This is moving the lever. — Sonjoy Ganguly

What are the best methods to measure ABM?

It’s a company-wide strategy. We measure pipeline against key accounts so it’s really clear. There’s no reason why pipeline wouldn’t be attributed to marketing. The MQL is no longer relevant. — Mike Burton

In B2B, pipeline and revenue take time but we need more realtime metrics. Where is the middle line for short term analytics? Marketing wants to validate that we are engaging these target accounts and driving them to the website and ultimately pipeline. — Sonjoy Ganguly

We look at it in stages: for early (open rates, website visitors from target accounts), mid (number of meetings set up with accounts) and later (pipeline opportunities). It’s important to keep the audience in mind when talking about these metrics. Your CFO doesn’t care about early stage metrics. Also MQLs can’t be ignored. At Marketo, we have MQLA and overlay an account component to MQLs. — Anastasia Pavlova

How do you handle account identification?

Misalignment of accounts or crappy data will kill your ABM effort. Multiple sources of truth are bad. Take the time to perfect the foundation. — Anastasia Pavlova

Companies get confused on where to start with ABM. Account identification is the first step. Who are most engaged current accounts? Then leverage market data on who else to target. — Sonjoy Ganguly

7. Calling All Data Scientists…The Big Part of Marketing Now is Math

Sangram Vajre, CMO & Co-Founder of Terminus and Founder of #FlipMyFunnel moderated a Fireside Chat with Falon Fatemi, CEO and Founder of and Gary Briggs, VP, CMO of Facebook, with a juicy discussion of how The Future of Sales and Marketing is 1:1.

Sangram Vajre, CMO & Co-Founder of Terminus and Founder of #FlipMyFunnel, Falon Fatemi, CEO and Founder of Node and Gary Briggs, VP, CMO of Facebook

How has marketing evolved?

The big part of marketing is the math, although you can’t take the algorithm to lunch. Facebook can’t hire enough data scientists. — Gary Briggs

The dream that’s existed for 1:1 – who to sell to at the right company, right person, right message – to date, information hasn’t been organized to get this data, even with math right. You need to have the right data to approach in a more intelligent and human way. We are getting closer with account based intelligence. — Falon Fatemi

What is the ideal organization structure if Sales and Marketing are one and aligned? 

It’s dependent on the culture of the company, the strength of the people leading, and the product you’re selling. Whatever the structure, it’s important for alignment. The goal is revenue. The #1 area where this breaks down is the frequency of communication on how the revenue engine runs. — Falon Fatemi

What is the future of B2B?

Insights for who to target and what they want to buy. Sales and Marketing become one, with each having functions to drive revenue. It will be the dawn of an age where you see an ad for something you actually want to buy. — Falon Fatemi

Bots, but it will take a few years to develop and roll out beyond the larger enterprises. A great example for bots would be in the service industry and customer care. — Gary Briggs

Final Thoughts

ABM is being fully embraced by SaaS companies as a way to drive pipeline, and there are many MarTech companies out there ready to help you gain the customer intelligence and scale. As I walked the exhibit hall, almost every company either had a Salesforce integration or was in the process of getting ready to launch on the AppExchange. 

At CodeScience, one of our key differentiators is helping SaaS businesses navigate the labyrinth that is the Salesforce ecosystem. We’ve spent years building relationships and understanding the intricacies of the platform. Want to get to market faster? Or, want to take your simple integration to a full managed package that scales? We’ve brought 220+ products to market on the AppExchange. We can help you.

We take pride in having worked with 6 SaaS companies from inception to their achievement of Platinum status on the AppExchange. What can we do for you? Schedule a free consultation today.