How ABM and B2B Marketing has evolved over the last 3 months

Gabriel Lim Avatar

Gabriel Lim | 26 July 2020

How should B2B marketers approach account-based marketing (ABM) after everything that's happened in the last 3-4 months?

  • What has changed?
  • More importantly, what *hasn't changed*?

In this Saleswhale Masterclass session, we cover the following topics with Sangram Vajre:

  • How can companies get started with ABM? Especially right now in a pandemic situation?
  • Why do companies fail in ABM?
  • How do we adapt our strategies during this period? 

Jeff Bezos once opined, "I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it."

Bio
Sangram Vajre is a co-founder of Terminus, one of Atlanta’s fastest growing software companies, and the author of the first book on account-based marketing (ABM). He’s the host of the top 50 business podcast, FlipMyFunnel, with over 100,000 subscribers. Before co-founding Terminus, Sangram led the marketing team at Pardot through its acquisition by ExactTarget, and then Salesforce. Sangram is widely regarded as one of the leading minds in ABM and B2B marketing.

Speakers

Full transcript below

Brandon Gargan:
My name is Brandon Gargan. I am the director of sales here at Saleswhale. And with me today is Sangram Vajre. He is the co-founder and chief evangelist of Terminus, which is the leading ABM platform. He's also a two times author of Account-Based Marketing for Dummies and ABM is B2B. He's also the host of Flip my Funnel Podcast. If you're interested in ABM at all, he is the person to listen to. I know as a company, Saleswhale is just super excited and a big believer in ABM. So thank you so much for joining us today. This is an honor for me.

Sangram Vajre:
Oh man, I'm fired up. Let's do this thing.

Brandon Gargan:
Awesome. Just quickly, if you don't mind, can you just say kind of in your own words, what is ABM for those that might not know?

Sangram Vajre:
It's getting butchered. Honestly, that's one of the reasons I wrote the second book. As you said, ABM is B2B. I'm like, "There you go, another acronym." And my publisher was like, "Wait a minute. You want in a three-word title of your book, two acronyms. Like ABM and the only other word that is a word, if you would, is is." I'm like, "Yep, it is what it is." ABM is B2B. I feel like it's just a better, smarter way of doing marketing and sales. And I think a lot of people can define it. There are tons of definitions you can look at. I think there are 89 or something, last time I was looking for it. And the reality is yes, you can call it targeted marketing, you can call it very holistic tiered approach to get in front of the right accounts through a omnichannel. You can use all the buzz words in the world to define it, but the reality is this, if you're in B2B, you got to know who you're targeting. Plain and simple.

Sangram Vajre:
If you don't know that, everything else doesn't even matter. Literally, it doesn't even matter. That's one of the greatest challenges and I think [inaudible] came up with a research in 2015 that said that less than 1% of the leads are turning into customers. That's just real. It should make people want it. As a marketer, if less than 1% off what we generate doesn't drive revenue, what the heck are we doing? To me, ABM is really like, "Hey, really flip the funnel on that, really look at it and saying, 'Well the reason it happens is because we don't know who we're targeting.'" We don't have a list that says, "The 50 accounts, we need to focus and do everything possible, scalable and scalable things, to win these deals." And when companies do that, some can call it ABM. I think two years from now, Brandon, I think everybody's going to call it B2B.

Brandon Gargan:
That's cool. I like that. It's kind of the broad spectrum. But I agree, everything's sort of shifting. And for me, I just love how kind of passionate you are about it and how for you everything that I read and everything I see, it's like, "I believe in this and I want to move this forward." It's not about any sort of selfish thing. When I see somebody that's like that, it's like, "Okay, there's something behind this. There's some substance there." And obviously, you've had a ton of success. Obviously, that leads us to companies need to sort of evolve their B2B strategies, especially in 2020 in this crazy world. But why should they consider ABM specifically?

Sangram Vajre:
March, when the world changed for everybody, I was sheepish about that. I was like, "Maybe it's not time to go on the offense anymore as I did before on like, "Wake up, you got to do this kind of thing." And so, I took almost the month of March, April, almost my foot off the pedal and said, "Let's see what's going on." And what I saw, Brandon, was budgets of marketing getting cut. Marketing teams not knowing how to show what ROI is what they're driving, CEOs questioning if they need marketing teams at all, events completely ... Like nobody is doing events so everybody trying to do virtual events and it's just different. All that led to like, "Wait a minute, we are in a more chaotic way and it's just exposing, really magnifying the problem that we have as marketers."

Sangram Vajre:
If you're in marketing and if you're in sales, your job ... Let us just talk marketing. If you're in marketing, if you're listening to this, your job is to incrementally or exponentially grow sales, period. It took me 10 years of therapy to say that but it's just the reality of it. Our job is to incrementally or exponentially grow sales. And the reason the budgets are getting cut and the jobs are not there, or changes are happening, or the CEOs are questioning is because they're like, "I already knew I didn't know how to measure it so let me just cut it and see if it really hurts. If it doesn't, then I'll keep cutting." And that's the problem.

Sangram Vajre:
Now, I'm back on the offense, I'm just like, "No, no, no. This is the time." Go to your CEO and go to your CRO, and go to your sales team and say, "Hey, tell me the 50 accounts for me to close that is going to help us meet quota of this quarter." And then go back to your many of options and say, "Oh, we can webinar, we can do ebook. We can do all these different things." And now do those things for those 50 accounts. Now go and do a webinar, which you're good at, for those five accounts that will actually make or break your business and make it personalized for them.

Sangram Vajre:
Turn that ebook that just flopped into very personalized for that industry and that individual, and they would actually pay attention to it. There are things that we all can do now but now you got to do it for the right accounts, with the right intent and the right result, and right business [inaudible 00:05:42]. And actually, I'm back on the offense. I'm like, "Gosh, it's enough. We got to get back and transform and say, 'This is what marketing does. We drive business and here's how we drive business.'" I think it's exposing the very problem we had been having for years.

Brandon Gargan:
I think that's awesome. I mean, it's all about piquing their interest by saying, "How can I solve your problems? What are you ..." And just because things have changed in the world, it doesn't mean that they don't have problems anymore, their problems have just changed. I love that, that's awesome. What do you think the biggest challenge a company faces making this transition? And then why do you think companies fail at it so often?

Sangram Vajre:
Oh man, it's funny. I don't know if you saw Brandon ... I don't know if you're using it or not but I love using polls on LinkedIn. It's fascinating, it's easy to use. And I would recommend and influence everybody to do it on a regular basis. I do maybe once a week or something, a poll out there and I'll ask questions like, "What's the number one thing that is a result of which that ABM is failing in your organization? Or what is the number one strategy that you're testing?" I'll get all kinds of responses. At a minimum, on an average, there are 500 people who will respond. And I know the next one is Megan Isenberg for you guys, Megan responded to a several of those polls. These are legit polls, responded by legit practitioners. It's really fun to get that amount of data that quickly.

Sangram Vajre:
And with the four options that I had, the number one reason why organizations failed at implementing ABM from the people who actually do ABM, literally 80%, 80% of them said because of the marketing and sales alignment that's been broken. And when I hear that, it literally turns my body. I want to be like, "Oh my God, we're still dealing with the same crap and we need to change that." And I feel like, again, it's exposing these issues. One of the biggest thing that I see happening over and over again is marketing has a different number and the sales have a different number. If that's still happening in your organization, anybody listening to this right now, change that. That's the number one cause, the root of all evil literally is in there.

Sangram Vajre:
Because if your metrics ... If you're celebrating the number of people attending a webinar and your sales team is depleting with not closing deals, it's a problem in your organization. Give them the same number so there's only one number that marketing and sales ... Marketing may not get commission but their bonus is they get to keep their jobs and maybe get promoted. Whatever it is, however you want to compensate, but the number has to be the same, has to be the same. And when you do that ... Actually, we can talk about strategies for how marketing and sales team can get aligned if you want to a little bit. But man, the number one reason they fail is because marketing doesn't feel that sales is delivering on the accounts that they care about. Let me ask you this. You said you're director of sales. What are the titles of your sales people? What do you call them?

Brandon Gargan:
Account executives.

Sangram Vajre:
Account executives, exactly. Sales team understands accounts. It's in your title. It's marketing never understood that. So, we kept giving you leads and your team kept saying, "Well, I'm after these 10 accounts. Give me leads in these 10 accounts." But marketing said, "Well, here are 50 new leads from this new whitepaper we just did that had nothing to do with the pipeline that we have to close this month or quarter in order to meet our numbers." That mix is the problem. But if you and I, if we were in the same organization, if you and I had the same number at the end of the quarter, I'd be asking constantly, "Brandon, what's happening with our top 20 accounts? Oh, there's no engagement here. Okay. Let me find out. Oh, they are all in healthcare or five of them are in healthcare. Why don't we just create a small webinar for five people in healthcare and do personal invitations and get them on it, and see what happens?" If we were all able to get out and do dinners, we'll say, "Why don't we just bring all these people in the same location and do that [inaudible 00:09:50]?" All these things, marketing has so much power, so much power to do and influence these things. I think we just need to get back on the offense now.

Brandon Gargan:
That makes sense. And I've obviously lived through that. I've been in sales for a long time. Sort of a personal question, why do you think so many marketers don't share that same philosophy? I think for me, some of the best kind of marketing sales relationships I have, are exactly that. When there's a unified goal and I find maybe that's more at smaller companies where it's like everybody is working towards that same one goal. We need to get funding or we need to hit revenue KPIs, whatever that is. But why do you think that philosophy isn't shared at more companies?

Sangram Vajre:
Marketers never carried a bag. They don't know. Marketing gets budget and I mean, it's really sad. It's reality. If a marketer has to earn the budget they get in their organization, I think it would be completely reverse. Here's what happens, I'm a founder of ... I was at Salesforce after Pardot and started Terminus. We're about 200 people now and I've gone through that, three series of funding and I've been in board meetings. And this is what typically happens, I'm an advisor for several boards so I know. What I'm about to share is what just happens at the high level that most people probably don't even think through this.

Sangram Vajre:
But here's what happens, marketing and sales, if you look at the financial statements of any company, is one line item. Literally one line item, which means if the investors in your organization looking at that number and say, "Oh, that number is not in that sweet spot of where it needs to be," in order for you to be a healthy business for them to invest in, they will stop investing in your business. That just means that marketing and sales are tied to the hip. You like it or not, you want it or not, we think have different philosophies. It doesn't really matter, it's just the truth. It just hit me like a brick when I saw that. "Oh my God, it's not broken up, it's literally one number, sales marketing index."

Sangram Vajre:
And then, here's another thing, when marketing gets ... Typically, what happens is the executive team and the board comes up with like, "Hey, here's what we need to hit. We need to hit 20 million this year, okay?" They will say, "Okay. For that, we need to have x number of deals closed. Okay. Based on our pipeline to close ration, here are all the amount of pipeline we need. Based on that, here is how many leads we need." Now, that's what your VP of finance somewhere in a spreadsheet or her spreadsheet is doing. And they give you that, "Oh, we need 3,000 leads a month in order to hit this 20 million goal." It's literally broken down into this weird stupid little spreadsheet in every organization. And then that's what is handed over to the marketer and say, "Hey marketer, here's your budget and here's what your output is." There you go, that's how the setup is.

Sangram Vajre:
Unless you as a marketer, challenge that, "No, no, no, no. How about we change the pipeline to send it. Instead of creating 5x pipeline, we need to create a 3x pipeline and can work more. Instead of just looking at lead to close ratio, how about we start working on expansion and multi-product deals, multi-year deals and things like that?" But you got to have the ability to understand all this economics that are happening. But majority, I would say, 99% of the marketers, literally accept that and say, "Okay. Well, that's what we're going to do. We're going to generate so many leads ..." And through all these leads and say, "Well, I don't know. Sales can do their job." That's the problem.

Brandon Gargan:
It's funny. It's like you were sitting in a room with me at my previous organization. As the guy who used to build the spreadsheets, I can relate to that.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah, yeah. And there's nothing wrong with that, what's really mistaken in that is that you would want your role to be challenged. You would want the marketer to walk in and say, "Wait a minute Brandon, that sounds like it can work, but what about this scenario? Let's just both improve on this. Let's test something this month, in this quarter." And now the model changes, the model shift. They get trust with you. If you're a marketer listening to this, just sit on the calls. Right now, this week, sit on two, three, four different calls with your sales team and see how they have to ... The phrase that comes to me is sales empathy. Sales empathy of knowing that you start at zero every single month as a sales person and you have to hit the quota. Otherwise, you don't have food on the table. That empathy has to be translated into the emotions of a marketer that he or she needs to create in order to help you win. And when that empathy doesn't exist, you get all these kind of flying things.

Brandon Gargan:
That's so true. And that's something we've actually adopted here, is having marketing, and really the whole company, listen to sales calls. Gong has been a huge change for us and it's huge. I mean, you really sit back and you go, "Wait a minute, I had no idea that our customers thought this or I had no idea that we were saying this." It helps to bring everybody into alignment. Yeah, that's something that I would recommend. In our short time doing it, is just have everybody at the organization, who has a passion or an interest, listen to sales calls because those are the front-lines.

Sangram Vajre:
It's a game-changer. It's a game-changer. And I'm so glad that's what your organization is doing. I feel if some people want to take away anything from it, just mark on your calendar ... Don't let other people rule your calendar. Go mark on your calendar, every week I'm going to listen to at least one sales call. Do that for one month and I think your copy will change, your messaging will change, the way you think about it will change. It's a dramatic improvement in the way you'll actually become a marketer.

Brandon Gargan:
I love that. Shifting back to ABM specifically, how do you think it's changed in the past three months? I know you said you kind of took a step back in March and tried to analyze what was going on. What's the big kind of fundamental pillars that may have shifted with ABM that companies should be aware of?

Sangram Vajre:
I think the two phrases that we started to adopt at our organization as a result of this, number one is that retention is the new acquisition. And I want people to really look at that as that marketing is not just [inaudible] DemandGen. When the markets are freezing, the budgets are cutting and stuff, what do you look at? And the reality is that the number one reason most businesses fail, maybe mom-and-pop shop or maybe a brick company shop, whatever, the number one reason most companies fail is because they don't have good retention, period. Their top line revenue could be really good but their bottom line is not supporting that top line. Just being in the numbers, as a founder, I'm looking at these numbers and I know that [inaudible] over and over again.

Sangram Vajre:
And this is where marketers need confidence to say these numbers. If you were asked a question, "Hey, would you have 10 customers or five existing customers stay and actually increase the value of the deal?" Most marketers won't be able to answer that question because they have no idea about the size, the tenure, the longterm impact of those deals are, and things like that. But if you truly focus and ask that question to your CFO ... Literally go and ask this question to your finance person saying, "Hey, what would be better? Eight deals, five deals, seven deals? Instead of creating 10 deals, if you did eight deals or five deals and increased our expansion value for the existing five deals, what's better?" And when you're doing it in a spreadsheet, perhaps what you're going to find out is that it's easier and that more profitable for your organization, and more healthier for the organization to keep the existing business and improve on it, and it's easier. Really, much more easier if you really focused on it as opposed to getting a net-new and the cost of acquisition that really comes with it.

Sangram Vajre:
What I've seen is that retention is the new acquisition. That's the number one thing I feel I've seen that is a shift because it was forced on marketers. But still, the survey that I've done, people are still over on the DemandGen and really nowhere close to pipeline velocity or retention. I think it's ... Any marketer, you'll be a hero in your organization if you take this and then you go and say, "Here's what we're going to do," and look at the math. It's ridiculously ... You'll get promoted, make more money, guarantee. Let me know if you don't. Seriously, you'll make more money.

Sangram Vajre:
The second is, from a sales perspective, the other thing that we sort of developed is that helping is the new selling. Helping is the new selling. What you are doing right now as an organization by bringing other people and other inputs and stuff, you're building a brand. You're helping your customers, you're helping your future customers. They now know what your company is doing and helping and are inclined to recognizing that, "Hey look, right now may not be the best time to go big on, 'Hey, buy me, buy me, buy me.' Right now might be like, 'Let me help you, let me help you. Let me help you.'" And I think that's what you're doing. Companies who are looking at helping is the new selling.

Sangram Vajre:
And I don't want people to get it wrong. It doesn't mean you don't have to have quota, it doesn't mean the deals are not happening today. It doesn't mean that you're not driving business. It just means that you're taking a different approach to drive business. That means you might be shifting your quota numbers from this number to a little bit lower and closing those deals a little bit at a longer phase. Maybe you are actually slowing down the deals, and it's okay, and breaking down the existing product into smaller products and trying to sell those. There are so many ways to go about it but try figuring out can you ... From an acquisition perspective, retention is the new acquisition and from a demand perspective, how you can have helping is your new selling.

Brandon Gargan:
I love that. And it's something that I experienced. I think I could tell very early on when kind of the world went into shock, the companies that were like, "Hey, I'm trying to sell you something. Hey, I'm trying to sell you something." And my inbox was just flooding versus the companies like, "Hey, here's some interesting facts that we found just in case." Whatever it was, they were just providing value. And in that kind of haze and in that noise, you could see the ones that stood out. And I still remember those companies today. Those are the ones that I'm like, "I love that approach." And that's I think why we believe in ABM so much here.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah. I mean, you build ... What you're doing is ... To put another phrase, if two of those were not big enough for people to take and do something, is brand drives the demand. I've seen it over and over again. In the early days of launching Terminus and stuff, we focused so much on building the brand of the ABM and the problem around it through Flip my Funnel and others. Almost 100% of our first 100 customers, every one of our first 100 customers, came from the community that we built. And the funniest thing is we never sold to the community. They came and directly all inbound and we're looking and like, "Wait a minute, where's all this inbound coming from?" And they were all, when we looked at the match, oh, they're all in the community and they just realized that we're literally helping them.

Sangram Vajre:
In some ways, we did it and we're so glad that we did that. But now, it's even more important for people to be very thoughtful around those things because you'll get credit for it. And the interesting thing is, and this is where it's beautiful, not every organization is going to do it. All the 600, 400 people, whoever listening to this, one, literally one of them, are going to do this, what we're talking here. And that's it, that's the difference.

Brandon Gargan:
It really is changing the status quo and it sounds like a big risk. You're saying, "Hey, revenue may not be my number one priority right now. It's about building our brand." It's sort of a long game and that's ... It's challenging. It's challenging to go to whoever your superiors are, whether it's the C-level or the board room and say, "This is exactly what I want to do. This is our strategy." Because not everyone cares about that.

Sangram Vajre:
And I wouldn't say revenue is not the goal. I would say no, revenue is absolutely is the goal. It's just that you're looking at it from a different lens and the timing around that is going to be a little bit different. Because like it or not, if the world is different, it's just different. Let's just agree and understand that that's true and say, "Here's how smartly we're going to go towards business." You actually may have to invest less dollar-wise but create a bigger brand and a better brand because of all the things you could do right now. Because you have attention of all the people right now.

Brandon Gargan:
Yeah. The world has changed. You said retention is the new acquisition, helping is the new selling. What hasn't changed about ABM? What's that true pillar that companies should stay the course on?

Sangram Vajre:
A great question Brandon. I feel what hasn't changed and I hope it will never change is this, that every account that you go after, has to be treated differently. That hasn't changed and shouldn't change. I was saying in the book that says that some accounts deserve champagne and some sparkling water. It's just the truth. And initially, it sounds [inaudible] like, "Wait a minute, no, no, no. We treat all of our customers great." No. Have you ever flown on Delta and you know that when you have SkyMiles and Diamond and Medallion, no. Everyone is different. Yes, you fly from one place to another but everyone has a different place based on where they are. If you're selling a million-dollar deal versus a $10,000 deal, would you treat both the same? No. You shouldn't. It makes no sense whatsoever to treat them same.

Sangram Vajre:
I think this idea of marketing because it has been all and everything. If you're not doing ABM, that's what you're doing right now. You're spamming, putting the same content, the same newsletter goes to everybody, the same webinar invite goes to everybody, the same ebook goes to everybody. If that's what your marketing is, then you're not in ABM, you're just not. And now, if you flip that and say, "Well, only 15 of these are going to get this. Only 10 of them are actually going to be invited and I'm going to make a personal call to each one of them." That's different.

Sangram Vajre:
What's not changed, and I think is becoming more and more important, and companies are better at actually reaping rewards for it, is literally creating this incubator of the right kind of conversation. I'll tell you some of the stuff that we are doing, as an example. The thing that is driving the greatest amount of business for us today as an organization are these 20-people webinars every single week that we have been doing. 20 people and we cap it out and say, "No more than 20 people. No more than 20 people." All 20 people have to be on camera and we talk about the challenges. And they're either by industry, by size, by segment, just different [inaudible 00:24:32], different things so that there's some connectivity. And we tell everybody like, "Hey look, here are all the five people that are going to attend." So they're like, "Okay. Well, I'm going to attend this if these five people are going to attend."

Sangram Vajre:
But we cap it out at 20 so that we make sure it's not a ton of people, create a very safe environment. It is about them. They all get to have conversation, they all get to talk about their pain points and challenges, and stuff like that. And people next time are like, "Well, I didn't get to go there last week." Well, we have next week. So we would like [inaudible 00:25:03], "Well no, let everybody come in." Like, "No. Exactly opposite." Love it. Exclusively only 20 people every week and based on different segments. Things like that is what's going to drive the greatest amount of impact in business for you. It's not the flash, it's literally the inline things that you're going to be driving into.

Brandon Gargan:
I love that. That's cool. It's sort of that exclusivity factor. And when they know who's attending, they're like, "I have to be in that one. I want to be there." That's really cool. And are these people that are part of your community, are these customers?

Sangram Vajre:
We started with customers because going back to number one, retention is the best acquisition, we didn't want our customers to feel left out. We started with our customer then we went to our future customers. And now, we're just moving on from there. But customers, that's where we started and say, "We want to help you. We want to figure out what's working, what's not working." Everybody's facing the same problems but now you're all in the same industry, how are you addressing that? We are at the same level, how are you addressing that? Oh, that's a great idea. All these things just start as helping each other. And because it's only 20 and there's 80, 90% showing to that because they know this is for them. It's not for everybody in the world. It's just for them. It changes the game.

Brandon Gargan:
That's huge. I like that. We've had a lot of cool questions coming in here in the Q&A. I was hoping I could ask you some of those and just kind of jump in.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah, go for it.

Brandon Gargan:
Awesome. Before I jump in there, I have a selfish question for you. This is from somebody here in our team. And the question is, how can you run ABM with a small team? What is the most important thing to focus on when you only have maybe one or two people?

Sangram Vajre:
Internally, as a marketing team?

Brandon Gargan:
Yeah.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah. Honestly, it's good, it's great that you don't have too many people. You don't need too many cooks in the kitchen. Actually, you may be thanking yourself three months from now because you can make decisions just like ... This is ABM, this is marketing in general, and this is the formula, testing, testing, and then testing. That's it. That is the formula for marketing. That is the formula for ABM. And you can do that when you have 20 people consensus that you have to go through in the process. If you have two-people team, you probably are more ready to do and test and figure out what's working, what's not. The best way to do that is really always start with the sales team. Always, always start with the sales team. Go to Brandon or somebody on your sales team and say ... Gee, give me a name of your sales person, one of your salesperson.

Brandon Gargan:
We've got Jezreel.

Sangram Vajre:
All right, Jezreel. Ask that person like, "What are your top five accounts that you need to work in?" Guarantee that person knows what those five accounts are. And now start doing actually ABM with them, which might mean all the things we just talked about. Sending them a direct email, surrounding with ads or engaging with them, taking your existing ebook and making it all about that company. Heck, go on your website and just create a landing page just for them with their logo, with their messaging, a video from that person saying, "Hey, we just created this page for you." Guaranteed you will get a response. Either way, you'll win a deal or not, it may depend on [inaudible 00:28:25], but you will get a response. You will get a nod, you will get a movement in the process. And that is the easiest and the fastest way to get going.

Brandon Gargan:
Awesome. And that's actually a good segue into another question that we received. Basically, how do you create all of this content? The person had asked, "I'm finding I don't have enough time to create all this content."

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah, that's the greatest excuse from the beginning of time that we have all created for ourselves, and I mean no disrespect. I have said that myself. How do I do this? How do I do this? This comes with a lot of respect but also people are going to hear it straight because that's the only way I know how to share this information. It's like, you got to stop doing stuff that doesn't matter. Literally, stop. Example, newsletter. If you send a newsletter, probably yes, great. If you don't send that newsletter, what will happen? If nothing, stop doing it. You put four social posts every single week, that's part of your job. Okay, what's the engagement on that? Anybody like, anybody retweets, anybody comments? No? Stop doing that. 80% of the stuff we do actually have no business impact whatsoever. We're just checking the box. So, you stop those 80% of things, you'll find time.

Sangram Vajre:
And I'll give you another way to make more content that is literally like a flywheel. This is the advise. I got to get royalties and money from people for this because anyone who does that and if they don't make money and their organization doesn't make money, I don't know how and what's going ... I need to know. I really need to know that because it's important for you not to make money as an organization. I'll say, "Look, launch very simply, a very simple like, 'Hey, we're going to do a podcast for our customers.'" And every single week, you talk to one customer and just record it, that conversation. And it has nothing to do with your product, your services. Maybe it will actually come. If not, it doesn't really matter. Just talk to them. 20 minutes, record. "Hey, I'm going to record a podcast with you." Within three months, you're going to have probably 30 conversations that you had with 30 different customers and ... What? That's a flywheel.

Sangram Vajre:
You can take that audio, transcribe it, there are your blogs. You can take that audio and video, if you're doing at Zoom, now you have video snippets with them. Now you can have somebody Fiverr or something like that, cut it in two-minute snippets and then use that content on social. Heck, you tag them and they will promote that to their entire base and stuff like that. You're talking you don't have time for content, if you don't have 20 minutes to talk to a customer, then you're right, you can't do it. But if you talk 20 minutes with somebody, 30 minutes total, put an hour a week in this whole process and then have all these processes that splits out ton of content for your blog, videos and stuff like that, you're telling me three months from now you're not going to have a big hub of content? That's crazy. You will, absolutely you will. And now, this content is about that industry of your customers and you couldn't get better than that.

Brandon Gargan:
That's awesome. Yeah, that really puts it in perspective. 20 minutes every day towards an activity, you're going to be drowning in content.

Sangram Vajre:
I mean, I run a Flip My Funnel daily podcast. I only do it once a week, really. The rest of the four days, I'm at the community. I don't think there's a dearth of [inaudible] is the quality of content. Is the quality of content that's messing it up. I'll give you another example. A lot of people want to create a ton of gated content. BS, stop putting gated content. You just need one great piece of gated content, one, that's it. At Terminus, we ungated everything, except one. But the problem is this, when you don't show ... There's a lot of beautiful, well-designed ebooks sitting on somebody's shelf that nobody ever read. I mean, that's going to hurt. And I think people will probably have the nervous laugh right now as a marketer to listen to this thing.

Sangram Vajre:
A lot of well-designed, beautifully written, well redlined, consensus from everybody from your company in that thing, and that is sitting somewhere and nobody's ever read. And that's probably true for 70, 80, 90% of your content. So, ungate it but create that one great piece of content that everybody would want to have. Like that is that one thing that people would say, "I would do it." The example would be like a survey. Every year you run an industry survey, every single year, that has the best benchmarking data. All kinds of people want access to that. You create one gated content that you'll always drive to and talk about, and make it part of your thing every year, every quarter or how you want to do it. And everything else, all the things we just talked about from podcast and others, those are free to bring them back to that one thing. And now you start doing the flywheel effect in your business, that is all ABM.

Brandon Gargan:
That's awesome. That kind of takes us then to another question, which I think is interesting. ABM is not working for me. How do I begin to detect what I'm doing wrong?

Sangram Vajre:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I need to hear more. What do you mean ABM is not working for me? What's not working? I need to know more about that. And I don't know if there's a way to bring that person on screen here but man, I want to know more. What is not working? Because there's a ton of reasons why it could not be working. Maybe your accounts are not the right accounts, maybe the messaging is not specific to them, maybe there's not enough followup. A lot of times marketing will do ads and campaigns and sales is like, "Well, I don't care about that. I got my own accounts to work on. I'm not going to work on the accounts marketing created." There could be a million reasons why it's going wrong. That's the problem, that's why I wrote this ABM is B2B. It's not ABM, it's just better marketing.

Sangram Vajre:
I think a lot of times we make B2B as boring to boring. Well, it's not boring to boring, it's blockbuster to blockbuster. Just go big, go massive, create really cool stuff. This is your chance, your brand new identity. Gosh, I take offense to that. I want to know what's exactly going wrong.

Brandon Gargan:
What would you say your process is if you find that something's not working out the way that you thought it would? What's your first step in dissecting all of that?

Sangram Vajre:
I mean, first thing I look at like, "Are we even going after the right accounts?"

Brandon Gargan:
Okay.

Sangram Vajre:
Here's a framework that we use, that we have in the book, we have in the courses that we have done. I mean, if somebody wants to do a LinkedIn course, LinkedIn just did a course with me, it's called Account-Based Marketing Foundations. It's free on LinkedIn. It's a one-hour course and I did a whole TEAM framework and stories and stuff. Anybody on LinkedIn can just take that for free. Just look for my name or just Account-Based Marketing Foundations course, or just DM on LinkedIn. I'll send you a link if you can't find it. But it's literally the TEAM framework, T-E-A-M, target, engage, activate and measure. Simple. Target, engage, activate, measure.

Sangram Vajre:
You got to know who you're targeting. If you don't know that, don't even worry about what you're going to create a flywheel content for. Then figure out how you'll engage. Maybe your target accounts are more online so you need to do more advertising. Maybe they're not, they're in hospitals, saving lives. Maybe you need to do direct mail and different things. Figure out what are the right engagement channels that make sense. Maybe they're all on LinkedIn, do more there. Maybe they're on Snapchat, do more there. Don't do what everybody does. Look what those target accounts need and where they hang out.

Sangram Vajre:
And then activate your sales team. This is the part everybody missed in marketing automation days. And I, as I ran a marketing product, I remember like, "Oh, let's just go and do all this stuff." But if you don't activate the sales team, it's broken. That's where the less than 1% math really came about. Activate your sales team. And without their attention to those target accounts, you're going to just waste money. And then measure success in an iterating way, going back to testing, testing, testing, testing. That's how you measure and say, "Oh, we got engagement here. We need more people in this account engaging with us. How do we bring them? How do we create a landing page that's not gated but it's all about them?" Start doing these things and start figuring things out. But the number one thing, to Brandon, to your question, I'll look at, are we even targeting the right accounts?

Brandon Gargan:
Okay. That's cool. And another question that a lot of people are actually giving the like button to, can you describe one successful ABM campaign that you ran in the past? What would you attribute the success to? How many sales ready leads did the campaign bring in?

Sangram Vajre:
Very good, very good question. I will tell you two failure stories to support that so everybody feels like I'm not just saying, "Hey, this is a [inaudible 00:37:17]." And fail, and then I'll share the one story that everybody is looking for. The first time we said we're going to do it we failed. Why? Because marketing came up with a list of accounts. What's wrong with that? Well, because sales said, "Well, great. Go for it." They didn't really participate so they were like, "Well, I don't know, whatever. I got my quota to meet. I know what accounts to go after. I don't need that. But that sounds like a great campaign. Go for it." And it failed, massively.

Sangram Vajre:
Two months later, we came back, "Okay. Well, that's not working. What do we do? We're going to have sales people. Let Brandon and his whole team actually go ahead and give us accounts because then they're going to own it. Great." Everybody in the sales team, "We want to close Nike, we want to close Adidas, we want to close this and that." "Well, they're not even our target accounts. Why are we even talking about these accounts?" And they're like, "Well, that's what we want to close." Fail again because it didn't match up with the right account. We didn't bring customer success. We didn't really understand the right target list of accounts we could create.

Sangram Vajre:
Third iteration, to answer your question, was specifically when it worked, was that, we call it the 500 accounts or the top 500 accounts campaign. And at that time, marketing and sales literally sat together. We still have this meeting calls marketing one team meeting that we do, where we literally sat down and said, "Together, we're going to come up with a list. Together we're going to identify it." And it was a combination of what's in the pipe, what are the expansion deals we need to go after, what are the net-new lead deals we need to go after?" Then we start ranking and said, "Well, these are $100,000 plus deal so it's tier one and above. These are tier two, these are tier three." Everybody said, "Yes, yep. If we close even 60% of this, we would have an amazing year." Yes. Everybody is like, "Yeah, fine." So that means figure that out, what actually means business? And then we had 70% win rate on those because everybody was on it.

Sangram Vajre:
Just to give numbers, in the first year when we started, we hit a million in revenue. Second was five million and third was 15. I share that just because the question was asked. So, every one of that actually was through this level of targeting and marketing that we did. But gosh, it will work only if you have that TEAM framework nailed to the wall where everybody's agreeing. And you know that that's what a business impact looks like. If you don't know that, I think that's where you're going to have trouble.

Brandon Gargan:
Yeah. That seems to be a pretty common theme throughout our conversation, is alignment between different teams. And just through my experience, I know how important that is.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah.

Brandon Gargan:
One more question for you, the MQL is dead. Agree or disagree?

Sangram Vajre:
Oh man, I hear cold-calling is dead, MQL is dead, inbound is dead. No, nothing is dead. Really, everything is well and alive. It really doesn't matter. I really want ... Let me just take off the soapbox and ... and let's just get real, even more if I could. Here is this, that when an organization have all these different levels of SLAs if you will, service level agreements. We got to have an MQL, we got to have an SQL, we got to have ... If three days later, the salesperson doesn't followup, it's going to go to the VP of ... When you have these rules, what you don't have is trust. And when you don't have trust, it doesn't really matter. It's a blame game.

Sangram Vajre:
The MQL, SQL, all those things were created purely because marketing and sales had this alignment and it was like, "How do we fix it? We're big organizations and stuff. Oh, let's create a process." So, we get paid to create a process, so they created this process. Don't fall into that trap. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm going to do a crappy job today." Everybody wakes up and say, "I'm going to give my best today." And the best thing you could do is to be able to create trust and relationships, and understanding. I don't know a single person on my team right now that looks at MQLs and SQLs and stuff. We're looking at like, "How do we drive business?" Right before this, somebody said to me saying that ... In the sales and marketing team, they just sent me like, "Hey, the two CMOs that we are talking to, they're also in a competitive deal with somebody else." I'm like, "Okay, great. I'm going to send them a personal message." That's part of our process now.

Sangram Vajre:
It's not MQL, SQL, who do we point? Those all things, if you have that as a foundation of your marketing and sales organization, it's not a firm foundation. Your foundation should be based on trust, on the right business outcomes, the right results that you want to have in your organization, the right accounts and stuff like that. Inbound dead, cold-call dead, ABM dead. Let's just call ABM dead too. Let's do B2B, let's do blockbuster to blockbuster and do some really cool stuff and don't ... on those things.

Sangram Vajre:
Now, I'm empathetic to the part that maybe your organization already have this as part of the process and you, whoever is asking this question, have to follow this process and stuff like that, great. But that shouldn't stop you from going to Brandon and Julian, or whoever in your organization that's in the sales team and saying, "Tell me the top accounts you need help with. Let me help you win." You help them win, they will go tell everybody in the sales organization, and that's how you actually build that trust and camaraderie, and empathy for each other. To me, it's not MQL, it's not all these buzz words, it's really trust. Do you have trust or not?

Brandon Gargan:
Yeah. And that speaks so much to what you said earlier where MQLs may have come from marketing has their number of leads they have to hit, sales has a revenue number they have to hit. All these different teams have all these different numbers and there's no unification there. I love the explanation. That's cool.

Sangram Vajre:
It's awesome man. [crosstalk]

Brandon Gargan:
Yeah. And I want to thank you again for taking the time. I mean, I've taken about four pages of notes here, including testing, testing, testing. I wrote it out three times. For me personally, and I know for us as we watch this again, it's been really enlightening. Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today.

Sangram Vajre:
Thank you so much Brandon. Thank you for what you all are doing. Everybody, please check out all the rest of the master classes that you got going on. I think it's a great idea. And take something and do it. And message me back on LinkedIn and tell me that, "Hey, I took this and here's what I'm going to do." I want to hear from you, did you take anything or we just wasted your time? Really want to know. Let me know, let Brandon know one thing. Connect. I'll connect with anybody from here, just send me a connection request. I want to know you did something with it. Otherwise, I just wasted your time.

Brandon Gargan:
That's so true. Yeah. And I'm curious on that feedback too. I think that was a really big theme I picked up on. It's just take that feedback, see if it's working or not. And if it's not working, don't do it.

Sangram Vajre:
Yeah, tell me. I want to hear it.

Brandon Gargan:
Awesome. Well, thank you again Sangram. It's been awesome chatting with you.

Sangram Vajre:
Thanks man.

Brandon Gargan:
Take care.

 

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Gabriel Lim

Co-founder & CEO at Saleswhale


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