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.

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.

 

Lattice Engines: Leader in B2B Predictive Analytics

Lattice Scores and Enriched Data are available within the Eloqua Canvas campaign builder.
Lattice Scores and Enriched Data are available within the Eloqua Canvas campaign builder.

In a 2016 survey of predictive analytics companies, Gartner sized the global market at between $100 and $150 million. Although Gartner remains bullish on the sector, the size must be disappointing to both the firms in the space and their investors. One of the early companies in the space, Lattice Engines, continues as a market leader with over 200 global deployments.

Lattice Engines supports both enterprise clients and high-growth companies with deployments beginning around $75,000. Pricing is based upon the number of managed leads or contacts in the instance along with the number of users. With revenue between $25 and $50 million (GZ Consulting estimate), the firm has a strong position in the nascent market.

Lattice Engines combines first and third-party data to build predictive models. External content includes firmographics, intent data, technographics, social data, and web crawled business signals. Content is licensed from leading vendors such as Dun & Bradstreet (WorldBase global company file), Bombora (intent captured from over 3,000 B2B media sites), and HG Data (technographics). The Lattice Data Cloud covers over 200 million global companies, 21,000 buying signals, 100 million tracked domains, and over one billion daily interactions. Internal content spans transactions, CRM, marketing behavioral data, usage data, and support services.

“Predictive analytics is one of the few types of marketing technology that has the ability to solve issues at every step of the funnel, because it aligns sales and marketing against the right targets, and provides them with the right data to create targeted campaigns.  By infusing fit and intent data into our models we enable teams to have a complete understanding of their ideal customer profile, which enhances the programs teams orchestrate against their targets.”

  • Director of Corporate Marketing Caitlin Ridge.

Firms can build multiple models to support various geographies, product lines, and scenarios (e.g. win/loss, upsell/cross-sell, renew/churn). Lattice scores and modeled data are integrated with many of the key SalesTech and MarTech platforms:

  • Ads/Web: DemandBase, Oracle Data Cloud, doubleclick (Google), AdRoll, Facebook
  • MAP: Marketo, Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua), Pardot (Salesforce)
  • CRM: Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle Sales Cloud, SAP

This platform coverage enables Omni-channel ABM campaigns across programmatic platforms, email, direct mail, and field marketing.  Scores, insights, and recommendations are provided to sales reps within CRM i-frames.

“Lattice remains the most visible “face” of the market,” said Gartner analyst Todd Berkowitz in September 2016. “With its focus on security, level of integrations and ETL tools, the company is a fit for enterprise clients (both in high-tech and other industries) and/or companies planning to deploy in multiple regions. Gartner clients report that the company’s go-to-market approach is unique in the way it addresses complex problems and help customers operationalize the insights from the models. Lattice is one of the few vendors that can recommend key plays at both the lead and account level across the entire funnel.”

According to Lattice, customers enjoy a broad set of improved metrics:

  • 2X Higher Conversion
  • 3X Greater Pipeline
  • 35% Higher Deal Sizes
  • 6% Increase in Quota Attainment
  • 85% Rise in Revenue per Customer
  • 20% Reduction in Customer Churn

The firm sells broadly across B2B sectors.  Customers include Amazon, Dell, PayPal, Staples, and SunTrust Bank.


Tomorrow’s blog will cover core Lattice Engines model building and recommendations.

TechTarget Priority Engine with DiscoverOrg Contacts

 

TechTarget / DiscoverOrg joint offering (Source: TechTarget)
TechTarget / DiscoverOrg joint offering (Source: TechTarget)

DiscoverOrg is partnering with technology media and marketing company TechTarget to deliver its IT intelligence through TechTarget’s Priority Engine platform. The new offering, which will be available on November 2nd, provides a “unified data feed” of DiscoverOrg executive intelligence alongside TechTarget intent and Active Prospect insights. DiscoverOrg doubles or trebles the contacts available for Priority Engine prospects.

TechTarget provides real-time analysis of the “most active accounts and named prospects conducting purchase research” and ranks those accounts by “likelihood to engage.” Prospects are segmented by geography and hundreds of marketing segments. The joint solution “creates a world-class ABM solution that combines breadth of reach, purchase power insights and the ability to pinpoint and influence key prospects in one place.”

Joint customers will have full access to DiscoverOrg’s editorially verified decision makers alongside TechTarget contacts that are conducting active research. Priority Engine customers that have not licensed DiscoverOrg will be limited to ten names per account. The partnership displays the “Target Buying Team within a single dashboard.”

“Our goal is to help B2B tech providers discover and influence the Target Buying Team at accounts in their market segment,” said TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia. “Our partnership with DiscoverOrg means that our sales and marketing customers have the ability to create, prioritize, influence and convert new pipeline opportunities faster and more cost-efficiently than ever before.”

TechTarget provides both TechTarget active researchers and DiscoverOrg decisionmakers and influencers.
TechTarget provides both TechTarget active researchers and DiscoverOrg decisionmakers and influencers.

TechTarget has embraced ABM and recently published a three-part blog on the topic. According to TechTarget, classic demand generation is based upon generic value-generation arguments:

Classic B2B targeting methods have relied too much on size and seniority. We assume that if a company is huge it must have a need. It’s logical. We assume that the CXO will ‘get’ our value proposition — makes sense, we think, because those people are really smart and our value prop seems super compelling to us. In the end, it’s the very obviousness of this kind of thinking that’s its downfall. Not only is everyone else targeting the same people, but they’re also raising up their message to a CXO level of abstraction to make it very clear. They’re talking “value delivery”, TCO, “next generation” and all those generalities that make everyone sound like everyone else. This can’t possibly work. And it doesn’t. We all know that.

To be effective, you’ve got to think long and hard about who you’re talking to and how what you do can make a substantive difference to them in their business lives. It starts with targeting the right people. Then it’s all about speaking to them at a level that will resonate…

For many of our clients, it’s simply the availability of these new data sources that starts to change everything for them. They now begin with a much better picture of what is actually happening within their target audience so all their campaign activities become more focused in nature. And as they become more adept at using the material, we see them start to refine their approaches to a very granular level. When they start adjusting their messages to address install changes within an account and the concerns of real people within these targets, they achieve another level of performance yet again.

TechTarget argues that firms should micro-target and micro-message to individuals in the enterprise that are dealing with the issues which a vendor’s solution addresses. Furthermore, campaigns should be based upon win research and persona development. ABM programs span renewal and upgrade campaigns, add-on/complementary solution campaigns, and competitive targeting.

TechTarget manages a set of 140 technology research sites. “By understanding these buyers’ content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase intent insights that fuel efficient and effective marketing and sales activities for clients around the world.”

TechTarget publishes 275,000 technology articles and claims to have “more 1st page Google results than any other B2B publisher.” Traffic and site activity is then mapped against their taxonomy of over 5,000 technology topics across 300 segments.

Priority Engine offers marketing automation and Salesforce connectors which provide “weekly feeds from Priority Engine to your MarTech stack.” MAP partners include Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, Pardot, and Integrate.

Along with DiscoverOrg, TechTarget also partners with HG Data to provide product / vendor insights.

Priority Engine customers include Cisco, McAfee, and White Hat Security.

Your Biggest Competitor is No Decision

Back when I was a product manager, I used to conduct sales training classes.  I often opened up the session by asking the question, “Who is your biggest competitor?”  The reps invariably listed a company or two they had heard over the prior day and a half of training.  Even seasoned reps would answer the question incorrectly.

Unless you are in a duopoly or there is a competitor that controls half the market, your biggest competitor is probably NO DECISION.  Either the purchasing decision is kicked down the road or no funding is found.  It may also be that the opportunity was poorly qualified to begin with.

Sales reps no longer control the conversation due to the informed buyer who leverages the Internet and social media in order to research vendors prior to contacting them.  This is one of the reasons that marketing is looking at digitally influencing anonymous individual on the web via Visitor ID, SEO, SEM, and Programmatic.  Sales reps are also confounded in their sales efforts by a second change in purchasing patterns.  B2B budgetary decision making processes have become more complex.

Budgetary centralization and committee-based buying decisions have increased the number of decision makers in the purchasing process, resulting in a greater likelihood of no decision.  According to a Forrester survey of IT sales reps, 43% of lost deals weren’t to competitors but to a category titled “lost funding or lost to no decision: customer stopped the procurement process.”

Furthermore, the rise of cloud computing has shifted budgetary decision making authority away from the CIO to the heads of various functional departments.  Purchasing decisions are being compared to a broader set of non-related purchases from across the organization.  It is therefore critical that sales reps “understand and navigate complex agreement networks and processes within the buying organization that span different altitudes and functional roles,” blogged Forrester Sales Enablement Analyst Mark Lindwall.  “Because decisions are more cross-functional, every dollar is compared against how it could add value in potentially completely non-related areas of investment.”

Thus, sales reps need better tools for identifying who to engage and when best to engage.  They also need to be better informed about companies, individuals, and the industries into which they sell.  In short, they need to know who to call, when to call, and what to say.  They need to quickly navigate what Forrester calls agreement networks to establish relationships across multiple levels and job functions at the organization.

Fortunately, Sales 2.1 tools provide rich biographies and full family trees for navigating these networks.  Users can target specific job functions and levels across the corporate hierarchy, research the appropriate individuals, and reach out to them via social media, email, or phone.

Newer ABM tools help identify the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), score leads based on the ICP, and call out similar accounts and contacts that are not on the company’s radar.  Thus, it’s not just about selling more intelligently based on insights, but targeting and prioritizing one’s sales efforts more effectively.

Sales triggers assist with identifying executive changes, M&A events, product launches, and other reasons for reaching out to individuals.  Triggers can also indicate an expanding opportunity or that a proposal is potentially at risk due to company or market dynamics.

And yes, sales reps should research both the company and the executive.  They need to understand the key trends in the prospect’s industry, why their last quarter was soft, and what does the executive muse about on social media.  While such facts may not be immediate hooks, they provide context and potential talking points down the road.  It also shows that the rep is willing to invest time in understanding the exec, her company, and the environment in which she is making decisions.

There is an opportunity cost to poor targeting, prioritization, and account planning. It shows up as No Decision in your CRM, slow deal velocity in your pipeline metrics, and disappointing sales growth.

Sparklane Predict 2.0

Predict builds Ideal Customer Profiles based upon Fit (Firmographics), Need (Sales Triggers), and Behavior (Marketing Automation behavioral data) allowing customers to identify both current best-fit accounts and net-new prospects.
Predict builds Ideal Customer Profiles based upon Fit (Firmographics), Need (Sales Triggers), and Behavior (Marketing Automation behavioral data) allowing customers to identify both current best-fit accounts and net-new prospects.

French predictive analytics firm Sparklane unveiled their version 2.0 Predict platform which employs artificial intelligence (AI) and active learning to score millions of companies and determine which prospects are most likely to become net-new customers.  The Predict platform is available for the UK and French markets with localized language and datasets.  A German edition is in development.

Sparklane ingests and enriches company data, matching it against firmographics and trigger events to score millions of companies.  The system then models the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Total Addressable Market (TAM).  Sparklane also identifies “sparks” (hot prospects) based upon sales triggers and delivers real-time alerts, messaging, and contacts.

Models can be deployed for both new and existing business.  New business models can be constructed from historical data (e.g. CRM win / loss flags) or estimated and refined for new market entry.  Existing business data can also be deployed for churn models to help identify companies that are more likely to drop as well as upsell and cross-sell models.

CEO Frédéric Pichard said that employing artificial intelligence to identify your next best customers “is probably the most amazing promise B2B marketing and sales tools can fulfill” as it provides “a new way of working to help our customers be more efficient and successful.”

Sparklane users begin by importing datasets from CRMs or CSV files.  Logic is employed to determine both positive and negative sample records.  For example, a CRM Win / Loss flag could serve as such an indicator.  The file is then enriched and an ICP model is constructed.  The ICP contains three types of variables: Fit (firmographic), Need (Triggers), and Behavior (Marketing Automation prospect activity).  Marketers or Sales Operations are able to view the model and adjust weights.  This model is then employed for constructing a TAM with net-new accounts which can be saved as a fixed account list or dynamic model.

Sparklane onboarded file mapping.
Sparklane onboarded file mapping.

An accuracy score helps define how well the model distinguishes between good and bad prospects.  Thus, an 80% accuracy score indicates that 8 out of 10 companies in the seed file are properly predicted by the model.

An accelerated learning option is available for new market entry.  Thus, if a seed list of good and bad prospects is not available for a new product line or market, an initial set can be manually selected from Sparklane company lists and deployed as a first generation seed list.

An active learning option allows users to perform a qualification pass on a list to help expedite model construction.  While engaged in active learning, the user is shown company profiles which include account overviews, triggers, and family trees.   The marketer can then give a thumbs up or down to each proposed account.

During active learning, sparks can be added, dismissed, or decision postponed, allowing the platform to adjust the model.
During active learning, sparks can be added, dismissed, or decision postponed, allowing the platform to adjust the model.

As output, the platform provides a set of “sparks” which are high probability accounts or contacts.  The user sets the number of sparks displayed in a spark list.  Qualified prospects can be sent to a CRM as accounts or leads.

The French dataset covers three million firms and two million contacts.  The UK universe provides 200,000 companies and 300,000 contacts.  The UK dataset focuses on large companies with sales triggers.

The French file includes 600,000 emails while the UK file supports 100,000 emails.

The firm claims that Predict increases the opportunity conversion rate by 70% and shortens the sales cycle by 30%.

Sparklane employs sixty headcount in Paris, London, and Nantes.  It invests over 20% of its turnover in R&D and has nearly 200 customers in Europe.

Form Follows Function

InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.
InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.

One of the key aphorisms in architecture is that form follows function.  The quote, attributed to Louis Sullivan, holds that a building’s design should be based upon the underlying purpose of the building, not driven by ornamentation.  Twentieth century design took this maxim to heart with similar thinking spreading through industrial and software design.

In the case of information services, a focus on flashy design or “bells and whistles” can be a distraction if the underlying service fails to meet the basic informational and workflow needs of its users.  One of the great things about Google is that it returns high precision results from a few words entered into a search box.  It was this simplicity that allowed them to grab and hold two-thirds of the search engine market share, leaving Bing and Yahoo! to pick up the scraps.

A well-designed sales intelligence solution supports multiple sales and support workflows.  These users span multiple functions and departments (e.g. sales, sales directors, sales operations, sales support, service departments, business development, and marketing).  Furthermore, there are multiple types of sales reps within larger organizations so your sales intelligence platform needs to be flexible enough to meet differing information requirements and workflows.

Thus, tactical sales reps need to quickly locate contact information and a few prospect qualification variables.  They want to make sure that the contact they are about to call is in their territory and doesn’t work at a subsidiary of a named account.

Conversely, a strategic rep has broad information requirements around companies, company structures, executives, and key events.  Strategic reps are focused on who to call, when to call, and what to say.  Sales triggers are not only a flashing green light that a prospect is more likely to buy, but conversational material for catching the prospect’s attention and signaling that the rep has prepared for the call.  Likewise, SWOT reports, biographies, industry market research reports provide insights into client interests and needs.

Named account reps sell only to a few firms so need a deep understanding of their target accounts.  They need to be apprised of key events at an organization that could positively or negatively impact their pipeline.  Furthermore, named account reps are looking for additional contacts and locations for extending their corporate footprint.   Thus, searching across a company for specific job functions and then reviewing subsidiary profiles and bios is an important task in growing the account.  Named account reps also benefit from PDF exportability so they can review the latest information about their client or prospect while traveling.  These reports can also be shared with other members of the sales and support team.

Territory reps and financial services relationship managers need to be apprised of sales triggers within their territory, quickly research and qualify companies, and dig deeper on larger opportunities.  Furthermore, as they generally sell cross-industry, they  also benefit from industry overviews from vendors such as First Research.  These primers are written in plain English and provide a set of Q&A sections by topic and job function.

First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.
First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.

Most reps work within a CRM, so review the capabilities of sales intelligence CRM connectors.  The tighter the integration the better.  If your CRM is your system of record, you want the sales reps working within the CRM on desktops and mobile devices.  Services that bounce the user between a web browser and the CRM are less effective than those that provide most or all of their content and functionality within Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics, or other CRMs.  Also, look for “stare and compare” updating of records, batch and real-time synchronization of data, custom fields, and duplicate checking.

Many sales intelligence services also support the marketing department.  Standardizing the two functions on a common vendor helps reduce cost and channel conflict.  It also provides a basis for successful ABM programs which cross the two departments.  Several years ago, sales intelligence vendors only offered prospecting to marketing, but now they also support web forms, real-time and batch enrichment of leads, lead-to-account mapping, marketing automation connectors, lead scoring, segmentation analysis, Ideal Customer Profiling, TAM analysis, and net-new leads and contacts.  A few also offer standalone services for the marketing department such as programmatic advertising, visitor id, multi-channel marketing, and SEO.

When evaluating sales intelligence solutions, you should understand the workflows and information requirements of each of your sales groups along with other potential beneficiaries of the service.  Don’t evaluate simply on counts and features, but on the information needs and workflows of your various sales and marketing teams.