Last week, the Synthio crew saved its last burst of conference season energy for the SiriusDecisions Summit, in Las Vegas, NV. After a long few weeks of the Marketo Summit, Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience, and the Gartner Digital Marketing Summit – we emptied our tanks for one of our all-time favorite conferences: #SDsummit17. After all, building the ultimate sales and marketing machines is not only our top priority, it is the top priority for ALL 3,500 attendees. While we spent a lot of time at our booth, I was able to slip away to some insightful sessions, case studies, and keynotes. Despite the information overload, there are the top themes that stuck with me:
The NEW Demand Unit Waterfall
Marketers and sales professionals from all walks of business were lined up in the halls of The Venetian waiting for the doors to open to learn about SiriusDecisions’ latest re-architected demand waterfall, now deemed the Demand Unit Waterfall. How cool can it possibly be for these thousands of people to be packed into a hall waiting to get in? Well, any delegate of SiriusDecisions truly values best practices and leans to Sirius to help them implement and execute these best practices, of which is the well-known demand waterfall. And that waterfall that we all live and run our businesses by, hasn’t undergone an architecture change since 2012; hence the hype. The key change to the waterfall from previous iterations is its new method of defining and qualifying B2B buying groups. This is a shift that moves away from focusing on singular or individual people to buying groups and demand units. The new model, that was introduced by Terry Flaherty and Kerry Cunningham, also addresses the need to define and understand those buying groups before going to market. This shift lends a hand to the ABM movement as well, since it requires the sales and marketing engines to be aligned and focused on accounts, rather than individuals. Marketers are conditioned to think about personas, which isn’t entirely wrong, because Cunningham explains that buying groups are “…a collection of personas involved in the process to buy an offering.” Furthermore, they advise that buying groups and demand units should be defined by whether or not they have “relationships, resources, and needs.” If we continue to look at things on an individual basis, it will ultimately skew our measurements because multiple individuals from the same organization can enter the inquiry phase, but there can only be one sale for that account.
The Problem with ABM
I knew it wouldn’t be long before everyone started to see the problem with account based marketing. The concept of ABM is great because it aligns marketing with sales to do what sales is conditioned to do best – target accounts, but by targeting a small number of accounts, you limit your reach. Quantity of leads and increasing reach is what drives marketers, so removing that aspect to implement ABM, puts us between a rock and a hard place. You’ve got to be able to combine your ABM efforts with your lead gen efforts, or else you’ll spend an immense amount of time targeting only a few accounts and only seeing limited return. To do that, you need to target more accounts and weave in normal lead gen tactics to those accounts. The tough part is actually finding all of the contacts at your targeted accounts and even if you do have the contacts you need, you really need to know as much about each contact as possible. Personalize email and ad campaigns, make direct mail more relevant, make site visits more memorable with website personalization – but do this to more than 50 people. Scale your ABM efforts and increase your reach; you can still run an account-based marketing program, just at scale.
What Happened to Sales Enablement?
After sitting through sessions and keynotes, it became clear that sales enablement has taken a backseat, and because of it, now we are paying the price. With the convergence of marketing and sales as a result of the ABM movement, we as marketers need to support sales more than ever. The response though, is support via software. There were several sales enablement technologies that were brought up that claim to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, and I even sat through a couple of demos…with my mouth watering. There 100% needs to be a stronger focus on sales enablement, and the technology that I saw last week certainly seems to solve the pain point; and now I want it! If marketers can automate the tedious processes that sales reps have to endure, we can allow them to actually sell, instead of entering loads of data and searching for relevant content.
We also held a case study session with our client, FIS Global, and discussed how they use our data platform to better understand their customers and orchestrate their databases. And of course, we threw a not-so-little VIP party with our friends from Engagio, DemandGen, Integrate, Mintigo, and Lookbook HQ. Beyond the great sessions, fun parties, case studies, and best practices we learned, we just had a flat out good time. See you at SiriusDecisions Summit UK!