Gartner Predicts Increasing Sales & Marketing Tension Due to ABM

Todd Berkowitz, Research Vice President at Gartner, sees Account Based Marketing (ABM) as increasing tensions between sales and marketing in the short-term.  While ABM has long been advocated as a facilitator of departmental alignment, he sees ABM as disrupting sales processes and generating friction:

“Between ABM and adoption of various new technologies and data types, there is a lot of disruption that is happening with regards to sales teams. Even if these changes are going to be beneficial to tech companies in the medium-term, and some of the “A sellers” get on board quickly with the changes, there are many sales reps that will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world. (This is why I always advise trying an ABM pilot with a select set of reps). So even if there is pretty good alignment and agreement between CMOs and sales leaders, don’t expect all reps to magically do what they are being asked to do. There needs to be an adjustment period, along with good sales enablement, before everyone plays nicely.”

So, while ABM will facilitate agreements in process, messaging, and metrics in the medium-term, it will generate resistance amongst sales reps unwilling to adopt new processes and tools or unconvinced of its value.  This friction is probably exacerbated by predictions of sales force reductions due to the implementation of AI and other information and workflow technologies.

WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Resistance to technological change has long been an issue.  Early in the Industrial Revolution, The Luddites sabotaged British plants, particularly cotton and wool mills.  While sales reps are unlikely to sabotage initiatives (or their careers), they may hesitate to learn new platforms or adopt new processes.  As such, the problem may be more akin to soldiering, the assembly line equivalent of reducing individual productivity to the level of the laggards on the line.  Frederick Taylor, the father of time and motion studies, was very concerned about soldiering and recommended piece work rates to create productivity incentives.  But sales reps are very attuned to incentives.  While they may be hesitant to adopt new technologies, they will do so if they help make them more efficient and effective at selling.  So long as sales reps are paid on a commission basis and long-term employment is tied to making quota, the level of soldiering should be minimal.

This isn’t to say that sales reps won’t resist learning new tools.  If they believe the time invested in such training is less than the incremental revenue for the lost selling time spent in training, then they will avoid training and learning new tools.  However, if they see others on their team benefiting from the new tools, they will not hold out long term.  Thus, tool training needs to be visibly supported by management with an emphasis upon the benefits to sales reps (e.g. less time spent on non-sales tasks and more time interacting with customers and prospects, improved account intelligence, improved account targeting and message timing).  With the proper incentives and information, resistance should be minimal.

To help ensure adoption, vendors should be looking to integrate solutions into CRMs, email, and mobile devices so that new tools are integrated into current workflows.  They should also be providing inline tool tips, initial training focused on their capabilities which provide high levels of efficiency and efficacy improvements, tool-based win stories, and usage tools for tracking training, usage, and ROI.  A few gamification elements may also be in order, but they should be organic to the product and not hokey.

SalesLoft EOY Enhancements

An Opportunity Smart Panel provides direct access to Salesforce Opportunities.
An Opportunity Smart Panel provides direct access to Salesforce Opportunities

Sales Acceleration vendor SalesLoft added two new integrated features at the end of last year.  From a SalesLoft smart panel, sales reps can view, edit, create, and one-click access Salesforce Opportunities.  SalesLoft also added a “log emails from anywhere” feature which captures prospect and customer communications from mobile devices.

Integrated Salesforce Opportunity data provides greater conversational context by surfacing current and historical opportunities and associated information.  It also reduces the workflow involved in toggling between applications and rekeying key details across platforms.  Bi-directional synching ensures that “opportunity status and stages synced as you’re engaging with your prospects and customers.”  SalesLoft also supports one-click new Opportunity creation functionality.

“Opportunities are both a core component of your sales cycle and a leading indicator of the success of your revenue team.  Your SDRs are hustling to create them, your AEs are actively working them and bringing them over the line, and your success team is keeping your customers happy and renewing them.”

  • Product Marketing Director Chris Murphy

The new email synching feature helps teams “log all email activities from their connected email accounts regardless of the device that it was sent from or whether they ‘loft’ their emails from Gmail or Outlook.”  Admins control which team members are logged and can choose which domains to capture.

“So, for example, we will automatically prevent emails sent to your company email domain from being logged as activities as well as those “pick up milk on the way home” reminder emails sent to your personal email address,” said Murphy.

Administrative Control Screen for Email Synching.
Administrative Control Screen for Email Synching.

SalesLoft also announced an extended partnership with Vidyard which provides freemium recording and transmission of videos from within SalesLoft.  Sales reps may attach video “selfies” to emails and email templates which display a custom video image. The integration also supports video playlists, making it easy for reps to include topical videos which address customer questions or concerns.  Vidyard maintains view analytics, providing sales and marketing information about who watched and for how long, helping sales reps hone both messaging and identifying which videos are connecting with prospects.

SalesLoft claims significant improvements in response and bottom line impacts from including video in the communications mix:

  • 8X higher response rates
  • 5X higher click-through rates
  • 20% higher close rates
  • 30% larger annual contract values

“We all know you can’t simply communicate through a single channel,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.  “However, when paired together in an intelligent combination of communication channels, process, and technology will ultimately increase conversion rates.”

EMM LeadPorte Global Contact Prospecting

Email address compiler Every Market Media (EMM) announced the “early access launch” of its B2B list tool LeadPorte. The Build a List service provides access to 55 million US and 7 million international contacts. All of the records have emails and a subset have direct dials. The service, which is nearing the end of its beta period, has already delivered 7,500 counts and over 2,000 CSV file downloads to over a dozen beta customers.

Users have access to global company and contact screening via standard filter variables such as job function, job level, SICs, size, location, domain, and title keyword search. Advanced features include deployed technologies; email, domain, and past download suppression lists; SOHO business suppression; and maximum downloads per company, domain, or website.

Leads are ranked by quality with the option to filter leads by quality strata:

Leadporte quality strata allow users to select high-quality data specific to their primary outreach channel.
Leadporte quality strata allow users to select high-quality data specific to their primary outreach channel.

When the max records per company field is selected, LeadPorte selects records based upon job level and data quality.

Max downloads combined with suppression list functionality allow outbound call centers to pull records on an as needed basis instead of pulling bulk files which quickly begin to decay.

A data rebate is in place to encourage a positive quality feedback loop. “We were having trouble getting feedback on our data outside of our OEM channel partners.” said EMM CEO Rick Holmes. “LeadPorte connects us to the feedback of the final user of our product. With hundreds of thousands of records a week being fed back to us from top telemarketing and email firms we’re improving and adding new data in a tremendous way.”

Domain and company name downloads support ABM campaigns focused on best-fit companies. According to Holmes, “Strong ABM campaign case studies often use referral outreach to other stakeholders in the business at companies that have a good fit for your product. That’s why we want to get ‘supporting cast’ contacts we can ask for referrals to the right person in the organization who makes decisions about our product. Successful organizations lever this strategy using different messaging than to a direct prospect, generally asking for a referral to the person who handles the decision.”

Company data is sourced from several companies and combined with EMM’s own data. Content is blended at the field level subject to a vendor hierarchy. A company-level data module will be available shortly.

Administrative features include a search-only restriction, the ability to pull team saved searches, and visibility into monthly data consumption.

LeadPorte is priced on a volume basis with significant discounts for large call centers. At 2,000 records per month, contacts cost $0.15 each, but fall to $0.01 at 250,000 records per month. Additional discounts are available for annual purchases. Unused records are rolled forward on annual accounts but not monthly subscriptions.

LeadPorte volume-based pricing provides significant savings for large call centers.
LeadPorte volume-based pricing provides significant savings for large call centers.

Roadmap features include their first sales enablement connector, machine learning, and social login.

While a number of tier one SalesTech vendors have been acquired this year, it is refreshing to see some of the data vendors such as EMM, HG Data, and Oceanos step into the void with cloud-based data services for sales and marketing.

Leadspace: Series C, AI, and ABM

LeadSpace Use Cases
LeadSpace Use Cases

Predictive Analytics and Audience Management vendor Leadspace completed its Series C.  The funding round was led by Arrowroot Capital and joined by JVP.  The $21 million round will be used “to grow our customer team in San Francisco and Denver, and our AI and data management product teams in Israel.”

The firm is assessing additional locations, including possible offices on the East Coast and Europe, “perhaps” London.

Arrowroot has taken a seat on Leadspace’s Board.  The firm wanted growth equity advisors instead of traditional VCs for Round C.  “At this point the investment is not just in the idea and the team, but also the underlying metrics and performance of the business,” said CEO Doug Bewsher.  “Once you have “Product/Market fit”, the kinds of questions investors ask are whether you are ready to scale; what are the opportunities for further growth; and apart from additional investment can we be an investment partner that can help you address these opportunities?”

Bewsher noted that marketing has been transformed over the past seven years since Leadspace was founded.  Firms are switching from tactical demand generation programs to targeted Account Based Marketing (ABM) communications.  “No longer is it OK to just send out blanket “nurture” emails to everyone and hope that will generate positive customer engagements. No longer can you rely on a single data source as the basis to know your customer. No longer is it enough for marketers to just think of leads — they need to market to accounts, and teams of people. Neither can marketers afford to ignore intelligence and information from external parties, and simply rely on the limited info they gather internally.”

Not only has the nature of B2B marketing been transformed, but “world class B2B sales and marketing organizations” need to become more like consumer companies with a deep understanding of the account at multiple levels.  Echoing Sirius Decisions, Bewsher said that B2B marketers need to “really know your customer at the account, demand unit and individual level, and then target and personalize your messaging to cut through the noise. And think customer-first.”

As an analytics company, Bewsher talks up the value of AI for sales and marketing as it begins to address specific problems and workflows:

AI is everywhere. While there is no doubt that it is going to change every corner of our life, both as private users and business people, I think we will start to move from the promise to the reality in 2018. In business-to-business sales and marketing in 2017, it was enough to say: “We have a ton of great data scientists who are working on new ways to better engage your customers.”

But in 2018 customers will look to see actual results — like the 90 percent increase in email connection rates we have seen from the deployment of AI to recommend the right way to engage a specific user. This will require a maniacal focus on specific use cases from the emerging area of AI.

One area where AI will improve revenue generation effectiveness is in ABM programs which has been limited by the human ability to consume information and the historical lack of data availability.  However, “AI is changing all this, with the ability to consume and understand unprecedented amounts of information and turn this into action at scale and in real time. So sales and marketing teams now have the opportunity to drive much more relevant and effective engagement programs for their entire potential target audience.”

According to Leadspace, they are trusted by over 130 B2B brands and seven of the top ten enterprise software companies.  Clients include Microsoft, Marketo, Oracle, and RingCentral.