Q&A with Cheri Keith, SiriusDecisions Senior Research Analyst

ON24 held Webinar World, its annual event, in early March of this year. It’s now early May and we’re gearing up for yet another conference. Two, in fact. The first conference the SiriusDecisions Summit in sunny Las Vegas. The second is our APAC variation of Webinar World 2018. (It’s taking place on May 31 in Sydney’s Hyde Park — you can find more details here.)

Seeing as the SiriusDecisions Summit is less than a week away, we thought it’d be a great time to resurface one of Webinar World’s keynote discussions — articulated by SiriusDecisions’ own Senior Research Analyst, Cheri Keith.

As with Alex Blumberg, Laura Ramos and our ABM panel, I had the good fortune of sitting down to discuss ongoing trends in the B2B marketing space with Keith after her presentation (which you can watch a recording of here).

What follows is a brief Q&A, lightly edited for clarity, brevity and context.


So, the subject of your talk today was engaging modern B2B buyers and creating a marketing mix that resonates. What, in your opinion, is a good marketing mix that resonates?

Cheri Keith: 

So, I think what the data shows us is that it’s still the blend between human and non-human and still a healthy mix between self-service and actively engaged, and I think that’s really the core principle. There’s been a lot of market hype around the fact that people make up their decision about what they’re buying before they even engage you — so, like, you’re out a lot at the end of the day.

That’s not the case. People do want to be engaged with. They’re looking for opportunities for both human and non-human interaction, but human interaction is still ranking is the top way that people want to hear from us. So, I think it’s really about dispelling some of the myths that we’ve heard about the fact that people have made up their decisions before they even contact you so put out a bunch of white papers, and hope people read it. That’s just not the case. And I think that’s also why webinars are so important at the end of the day is because, sure, they can be condensed down made into a video. At the end of the day, people are still looking for it and that’s the top reason that buying processes are being stalled — because we’re not being responsive enough to people are looking to buy. Like, that’s crazy.

So, the main point is not to feel that it’s out of our control by using the construct and being measured and smart as listening to people. We’re still in control of the process. Of course, the buyers are more informed — there’re so many other new delivery mechanisms — but they don’t want to talk to a robot they want to talk to you still.


So, is there a particular ratio for human versus self-service, automated engagement?

Cheri Keith: 

So, human versus non-human is 50/50 split across the board. Buyers report it’s still 50/50 and then at how involved the vendor is — so, low is self-service, high is a human had to do something — and [with] human non-human — highest is a human being involved. And it’s an active participation — that’s what people said they like. That’s what they want.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fact that we should feel powerless, but we shouldn’t we should actually feel more empowered. Now, all the technologies, especially webinar technologies, if you think about all the data that you can pull how active someone is throughout the webinar. That’s really important, if you see someone who’s totally locked into the whole thing, how much more information is now at our fingertips to understand? But then also to be able to engage more deeply with that person to say “So you were locked in throughout the whole session. Any questions?”

We can’t always rely on people to put a question to chat — we all know that — but you learned a lot [about the person]. Or, if you can see someone stopped paying attention during a portion of [the webinar], well is that an opportunity for us to acknowledge that life happened, and someone lost into their cube? Or can we go back to them and say “Do you need more information on that? We saw you missed that part of the webinar.”

So, I think it’s opened up so many more doors for us through technology to understand more. We just need to actually be responsive to what we learn at this point.


Interesting. I was chatting with Alex [Blumberg] earlier, and he basically said the same exact thing — they can watch where people drop off during the podcast and he’s like, you know, that’s something wrong with the story.

Cheri Keith: 

Yeah, well, it’s interesting because the study is what it was. I can’t make this up. Yeah, and at the end of the day webinars aren’t performing well — the buyers said they don’t consume them during two phases — but the fact that webinars are rated so high everywhere else throughout the data it’s showing us that the webinar is not the problem. It’s a story that we’re telling on the webinar for those two stages of the buyer’s journey.

We’re doing a great job on the education phases, as SiriusDecisions calls it, but [for] two other phases we’re just not listening to the feedback we’re hearing. I know people have access to the information to show that people might not be consuming all the webinars at the same rate, and you know you can take that and just be like, “A bunch of little perform while so oh well.” But that still leaves us with a waste of money and time that we spend on all these other webinars. Yeah, but [also] gaps in the fact that we’re not deploying webinars for the solution and selection phases that people care about. And they want to care about it, so why don’t we rethink the stories that we’re telling during those two stages to be more effective?


In your opinion, you mentioned towards the tail-end there are dangers in engaging outside your buyer’s preferred channels, like social media. So, what kind of dangers? Have you ever seen a situation where a B2B marketer or firm or whatever invests in a particular channel their buyers aren’t engaged in without really realizing it?

Cheri Keith: 

Oh, yeah. We hear that question all the time. I had a call with someone a few weeks ago. And social media isn’t the problem actually, I don’t think. I think it’s the fact that people talk about the trends on social media, and then we, as marketers, because we’re all on social media see it, and we’re like, “Oh my gosh. I need to redo everything I’m doing even though I’m marketing to plant managers in Ohio.” Well is social media the right channel there? Maybe it is. I don’t know; I would have to interview those people to know better.

But, yes people often start to invest in what they hear is popular. Rather than listening to their buyers, they listen to the market hype — and I think that’s the disconnect. We see it all the time — people are spending money on stuff, and they’re like, “Why doesn’t work?” But that’s why we say if you’re not using it today, maybe you should pilot it. Don’t put so much money in it.

It’s like every time you think about your appropriate tactic mix. You have what’s tried-and-true. Let’s put webinars in that category — people are very familiar with how to do that, that’s not a new concept. Maybe doing a more modern type of webinar, where you actually show video of people —  you don’t want to take all the webinars you’ve done in the past, if those have been working well, and shift them all to humans. Maybe that [webinar type] will work for your buyers; maybe it won’t. But you should start to pilot about to one or two and see how people react to it.

So, I think it’s more about smart experimentation rather than just be like, “we need to change because I heard I should change.”


Do you develop a hypothesis when you start doing a little smart experimentation first? Is there a process that you put into that?

Cheri Keith: 

Yes, when I was on the other end of the table I always would have my hypothesis that I would share very openly with my co-workers when we would do something because I’m okay being wrong and I also viewed it as a competition, so being able to put something out there on the whiteboard, and we all take a guess every at how we think it will work.

I would always say something like that is always important. It’s not about being right, but it’s about kind of using your brain a little bit more to think about what are the possibilities, and, if things go differently, than what five of me and my four members predicted, then why is that? Is there a learning there? Is it a gap in our knowledge? Is it a gap in our knowledge as marketers or a gap in our knowledge as understanding the buyers?


You mentioned earlier about getting sucked up in social trends. And I can imagine, from my own experience, it’s easy to re-engage in those trends when you’re trying to break that habit. Do how do you break that habit? Or do you know of any ways of identifying when you’re getting into that market hype?

Cheri Keith:

I’m a very skeptical person. As a marketer, when I was on the other end of the table, I would see it on social, and then I would get this stuff forwarded to me and would be asked, “Why aren’t we doing this?” I get them today still because everyone will say, “Oh my gosh, SiriusDecisions, why haven’t you thought about this?” Well, it’s not going to be true for everyone. Even email campaigns like didn’t all work right away. There needs to be market adoption and acceptance of the use of that tactic before it’s going to work for other things.

We get it in our home [and] our non-work lives, and we’re starting to understand it in our work lives. I think that’s an important construct to consider as well.

The way I would navigate it is, like, “I just didn’t hear from our buyers yet.” That would be the pushback I would give to my boss. And that’d be the pushback I give today. When I’m on briefings of people and new vendors and new technologies, especially. When it’s a technology that has like a tactic very closely associated with it, and they’re like, “Everything else is dead and marketing this is it.” I’m like, well, pump the brakes because that’s not how it works.

Even if it is the silver bullet, not everyone’s gonna buy the silver bullet tomorrow. And that’s just the reality of the way that the world works more than anything else. I’m always of the mindset to be, “All right, let’s evaluate it think through it, and figure out our buyers showing that behavior yet.” And if they aren’t, maybe we just watch it. But if we’re starting to see an inkling that this tactic is very similar to this other tactic we deployed, maybe we should start to test it. I think that’s what a good approach might be.


Last question. Any books you’re reading?

Cheri Keith: 

Any books I’m reading? I’m reading a parenting book. The age of five has been hard for both my children. I think it’s called Parenting Without Screaming, and it’s about being more in touch with your child.

My children aren’t awful or anything, they’re great children, but most people talk about two and three being the hard ages because there’s a lot of it energy behind it. But when they’re at five, they’re so much more cognitively aware of what’s going on. And, sometimes, if they’re acting out, it’s not because they’re a bad child, that they’re spoiled or anything of that nature — they’re struggling to figure out the mechanism to communicate. And they might not understand that you need to like sit still and the teachers talking.

So, I’m reading about that.


Wonderful. Thank you for your time.

Five Tips Legal SMBs can use for Surprise Webinars

As a part of SMB Week, we’re highlighting the webinar tips, tricks and hidden secrets any small organization can deploy for better webinars. This article was originally published on jdsupra.com.

Most webinars are part of your firm’s long-term strategy: they’re programmed and planned out well in advance. So what happens when big news that you need to translate for your clients breaks on short notice? More to the point, how can you develop and deliver a meaningful webinar in 24 hours? Here are five suggestions:

1. Work with Seasoned Attorneys

You need subject matter experts of course, but your webinar will go more smoothly when you’re working with lawyers who are familiar with the format, who have done webinars before, who are comfortable with the pace, the provider, the ways questions are asked and answered. Attorneys who’ve already presented webinars for your firm will be able to focus their limited preparation time on the topics to be discussed rather than how the webinar works.

2. Send Personal Invitations

Mass emails announcing presentations on important topics can work when time is on your side, but on a quick turnaround it’s better to send personalized messages to those contacts most affected by the issues you’re discussing (your profiles of clients and past webinar attendees will tell you who those people are).

Craft your message to make it clear that you know the topic is relevant to the invitee – because they’ve attended similar webinars in the past or downloaded a white paper on a related subject, for example – and remember that the goal of your webinar isn’t to transmit knowledge, it’s to build and enhance relationships with the people in a position to hire your firm. Personal invites can do that.

3. Don’t Overthink the Slides

One of the most time-consuming tasks for developing a webinar is the preparation of slides. That’s because, by and large, people tend to try to cram too many ideas onto their slides, to list all the points they’re covering, to fill up the blank page with words. When you’re on a short deadline, the best way to get around this is to stick to the essentials and limit your bullets to the principal points of the discussion. Use the words – and images, if you can – to accent your presentation instead of recapping it. Leave attendees with concepts they can remember.

4. Invite the Media

Clients and potential clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from your insight and perspective on timely legal developments. Journalists too will appreciate your timely explanation of the impacts that changes in the law, for example, will have on the companies and individuals for whom they are writing. You’ve probably already got a list of reporters who cover these issues, those who’ve quoted your lawyers in the past or called you for background or attended your press conferences. Invite them to your webinar (with a personalized invitation, of course).

5. Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

You’ve heard it before, but that doesn’t make it less true: seeking perfection can get in the way of producing something good. When you’ve got less than 24 hours to develop, publicize, and stage a webinar on a breaking issue, you have to be realistic about what you can achieve. That doesn’t mean settling for a sloppy presentation or a glitchy webinar, but it just might mean letting go when things aren’t perfect.

* * *

With immediate analysis of current developments, your lawyers get out in front of the issues affecting your clients’ ability to do business. And with a well-produced webinar, you develop valuable collateral that later audiences can access on-demand, when their schedules permit and when they’re ready to act on it. That’s a win-win for everyone.

Is there anything that you would add to this list? I’d love to hear about it.

For more information about how ON24 helps legal firms conduct top-tier webinars, check out the legal section of our website. 

Announcing ON24’s 2018 Webinar Benchmarks Report

Looking for the latest in webinar benchmarks? Check out the 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report right here or get our top-level takeaways right here.

Time and time again, webinars are listed as one of the content formats most preferred by prospective buyers. It’s easy to understand why. Quality webinars engage, inform and disseminate content to an interested audience. But what are the best practices for a webinar? The answers reside in our 2018 Webinar Benchmarks Report.

This year’s benchmarks report examined nearly 20,000 ON24-based webinars conducted during 2017. The result is a guide to webinar standards, best practices and new trends as well as a comparative marker for ongoing webinar programs.

Looking for few key takeaways? Here’s a taste of the facts figures you’ll learn:

  • 56 minutes: the average attendee time spent in a live webinar
  • 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST): the best time to hold an event
  • 44 minutes: the average time spent in an on-demand webinar
  • 44 percent: the average conversion rate for webinars with more than 100 attendees
  • Q&A: the most-used widget on the ON24 webinar platform
  • 22: the percent of webinars featuring video

But this report is more than a list of numbers to abide by. It’s a map to help you bring one-to-one communications to a digital scale. Adding a personable, engaging touch to digital communications is especially important in an era where distractions and alternative solutions are easy to come by. Today, engagement matters more than ever.

Generating engagement and nurturing trust are two reasons why webinars stand out from other forms of content. In fact, according to Demand Generation’s 2018 Content Survey Report, 48 percent of respondents said webinars were both their top choice and most valuable content format during the mid-stage of their buying journey. What’s more, 75 percent of respondents in the same report also said they’d share more information to gain access to content in a webinar.

As a single tool to generate pipeline, revenue and actionable insights for sales, it’s hard to surpass a webinar. But for generating trust and actually engaging with your audience, there’s no competition. Stop interrupting your prospects and start engaging with them with ON24.

For more insights into how to make the most of your webinars and to maximize engagement, download ON24’s 2018 Webinar Benchmarks Report and watch the corresponding on-demand webinar for more best practices.

CMO Confessions Ep. 2: Engagio’s Heidi Bullock

Hi, and welcome again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast at ON24 exploring what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. I hope you all had an opportunity to listen to our first episode, featuring Matt Heinz, Founder and President of Heinz Marketing.

For our second episode of CMO Confessions, I had the good opportunity to talk to Heidi Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer at Engagio. Heidi has had a super-interesting journey to her position in the marketing world, where she started her career as a molecular biologist and worked her way up the marketing ladder within that industry before moving to Marketo. There, Heidi helped to shape the company’s marketing program during a few key formative years. Now, she’s heading Engagio’s marketing efforts.

In this episode — which you can find right here — we talk ideal customer profiles, why it’s important to prioritize accounts and, yet again, why it’s so important for marketing and sales departments to coordinate and work together. Plus, much more.

As always, we’ve included a transcript of our conversation for you to pursue as you see fit. If you’d like to reach out to Heidi, you can find her on Twitter at @HeidiBullock and LinkedIn at this link. And you most certainly should check out Engagio, which is doing some great work around engagement measurement in the account-based marketing space.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.


Joe Hyland:

Hello, everyone. My name is Joe Hyland, Chief Marketing Officer here at ON24, and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions. Today, I have Heidi Bullock, CMO of Engagio. Welcome, Heidi.

Heidi Bullock:

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, this is fun to do this. Okay, so since we said absolutely nothing is out of bounds, I’ll start with a question that perhaps you get a lot of, but maybe it will surprise you. How does a molecular biologist become a chief marketing officer?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, it’s a question. I’ve definitely had. It’s an interesting path. I was somebody that was pretty technical, but I had the ability to communicate really effectively to people who I’m not going to say we’re not technical, but just busy and didn’t have the time to care about the details. And I think just that ability to communicate to people in different styles worked well for me. And, also, being in marketing being technical and having a thoughtful process has been an advantage. So, it’s not as much of a stretch as you think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s actually really interesting. I think a lot of marketers shy away from being technical or really getting to know the product. I don’t know if you have any thoughts or experiences with that.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I see that, but I also feel like I see some marketers now almost trying to be so technical that they, you know, almost like it hinders them it’s like well, “I don’t have data; therefore, I can’t make a decision.” Well, nothing’s perfect. How can you make a good decision when you don’t have perfect data, which who has perfect data? Let’s be real. I do feel like I still see marketers that are like, “Oh, I don’t need to be in the product, or I don’t need to know those level of details.” And my feeling is you should be as close to the customers as possible. If you’re not doing that, to me, it’s a little bit weird every product that I’ve ever sold or marketed I’ve done my best to be in it as much as possible. Engagio I was in every day, Marketo I was in every day, and it really helps me relate to what a customer is not only looking at but facing.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think you’re totally right. I mean, great marketing is always about them, and never about you, but if you can understand that the challenges, the plight like the day-to-day frustrations of whoever your marketing or selling to, I mean, you just have an enormous advantage because it’s about solving their problems, right?

Heidi Bullock:

Exactly. And I totally get that. We’re in MarTech, and so that’s a little bit different for us, but I’d even say when I was in the Life Sciences and sold software in that industry, I did my best to work with sample data sets and get in there as much as possible to and I really think it’s a benefit if people can do that.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, so you didn’t, maybe you did, I’ll ask, you didn’t have some grand plan in your career to rise up and become a CMO one day.

Heidi Bullock:

I knew that I wanted to always do a good job, and I think that I’m a fairly competitive person — I’ve always played competitive sports — so I knew that I probably wasn’t just going to sit on the beach and just be complacent. But I wouldn’t necessarily say at 24 I knew I was going to be a CMO. I just knew that. I was going to be passionate with whatever I did and do it the best that I could. So, that’s kind of always how I lived and here I am.

Joe Hyland:

That’s kinda good advice for life, right? I mean outside of one’s career. Just do what you’re passionate about like give it your all and, truthfully, good things happen.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right, and I think also just being really realistic about what certain jobs are, that’s advice that was given to me a long time ago. Make a list and what are the things that are important to you, and I think sometimes, I’ll talk to people, I’m sure you hear this, like, “what does it take to be a c-level person?” And I think if people sometimes knew what it was they really wouldn’t to, they really wouldn’t want the job, right? And so, I think, it’s only important in life, is it, is it money? Because I’ll tell you like go be an investment banker do that instead.

Joe Hyland:

That’s true. And you’re right, I think there are components of getting to the top of any career path or any profession, perhaps, what you what you loved doing, it shifts, right? And there’s different responsibilities. we have a great finance department, but I loathe having a budget meeting. I just hate it, but it’s one of the responsibilities of the role, right? It’s not exciting, but you got to do it.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right. Like, hiring too, that’s something that I see, and I think if people had any ideas sometimes how much hiring you have to do. It’s a good part of my day for sure.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true, particularly at a high-growth company. At my last company, which is in a completely different space, we were growing like crazy. I was about the 20th employee and when I left we were over 400, so there were weeks that half of my time was spent recruiting or interviewing which is, truthfully, it brings a different joy, but it’s not marketing.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, it isn’t. Well, marketing yourself.

Joe Hyland:

I guess, yeah, it’s true. Let’s talk about growth hacking. Super-fast growth companies and then balancing, ultimately, building something that’s built to last. You guys are in hyper-growth mode. You’re doing some really cool things over at Engagio. How do you view balancing the realities of the short-term growth pressure, because it’s there, versus building something that is in fact built to last?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think, for me, I wish I had a perfect answer. But I think, as much as we can, we try to not grow — if I could use the word — it’s almost artificial growth, where say maybe you add a bunch of numbers you bring in a bunch of customers, but if they all turn its sort of irrelevant. It doesn’t matter, and I’ve seen that movie before. We actually have spent a lot of time since I joined the company developing an ICP, we have a customer profile. There’s actually a segment of the market. We’ve really kind of figured out is not great to sell to even though to be honest with you. It’s made my job, and my sales partners job a lot harder. I think I could hit my pipeline goal much easier if I didn’t do that. But my feeling is if we have churn and other leaks in the boat, so what? It’s not going to help with that growth story.

So, I think having that right balance up front and that experience … You have to be pretty disciplined to do it because if we all can see the short pass to things it’s like, it’s almost like a crash diet like we all can live on some weird soup for a week, but it doesn’t work out and it’s kind of the same thing,  I feel like I have to make hard choices, and it’s made my job may be tougher, but I think it’s the right thing for the business. So, the quick answer’s we have an ICP. We’re really focused on a certain segment of the market that we know is good for us and so far, it’s gone well, but we have big hills to climb. I’m not sitting back and feeling like I have nothing to do.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, probably far from it. Yeah, for us, we were actually just talking about this in our board meeting a couple of weeks ago. We have what we call good DNA and bad DNA contracts and so not every win is a win. We’ve, and I won’t go into great detail on it, but we there’s a segment of the market that we sell into and they’re a little fickle and they don’t renew it at such a high rate. So, it’s really not worth it to sell-in there, right? And so that takes that discipline on the sales and marketing side because, you’re right, it’s easier for us to hit our targets if we kind of say, “Fuck it let’s just go after the whole Market,” but if the whole market doesn’t want our solution, that’s, at least long-term, that’s not good for us.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, and I have to say just for people that are in high-growth companies. I mean growth a huge part. That’s retention like huge. So, you can do great on the acquisition side, and if you’re not clever about how you retain and keep customers, it’s actually is a problem that magnifies itself. So, I think if you can have some of that discipline of front it’s really worth it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I totally agree. It’s important. How do you view presale versus post-sale?
So, you have obviously an acquisition strategy that you work in partnership with your head of sales. Over at Engagio, what happens after someone signs? Do you stay involved?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, we do. It’s interesting since I have been — and I carry this experience from Marketo, I owned up cross-sell there, and I was involved; I wasn’t the owner of retention, but we viewed it as almost like several pillars were marketing was a piece of it — and I view it that way here too. Especially, again, because we’re selling in the marketers. So, I like to stay involved, as an example. We on-boarded a customer today. I was on the call. I wanted to make sure that they felt like they got what they needed and just tried to make it as efficient as possible. I can’t be on every call, but I really try to stay pretty involved.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s cool. I mean talk about staying close to the customer, right?

Heidi Bullock:

Right, I mean ideally. You know, I would love to do it as much as possible, but it’s tough. We have a lot that we’re in, but I think I’m definitely, for the larger customers, in the ones that they’re really critical for your business you probably want to do that.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, not that this is the reason we would do it, or you would do it, but also if there’s an upsell cross-sell component right they like you’re investing in a new client that could foster itself into a much, much larger relationship.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Joe Hyland:

Do you want to talk more about your ICP? I mean, that’s kind of where you guys play in the market as well, right? Feel free to talk about how you use your own solution because I think people would really benefit from hearing about that.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah. So, one of the first things we did — and I think people, and you kind of said this, that there’s a lot of noise — and I think for a lot of marketers they probably see stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter and everyone are just like, “Oh, this is like too much almost kind of that feeling like, “never mind, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.” And I would just tell people I joined Engagio, and we’re a small team we sat down, and we just looked at our closed-one deals, where we felt like we were having success and what are those companies have in common. We looked at certain technographics, we looked at demographics, we looked at a lot of different facets to cut to a place where we felt like, “Okay, this is a company that stays with us for the long term.” And we definitely saw a pattern with, as you were mentioning, a segment that seems to have a higher turn rate for us. I mean I can get into it, we really right now our focused-on people that have a Salesforce CRM. They’ve got some level of marketing automation in place. They probably, and this is harder, but there’s a certain type of marketing team that’s already in place. Like, if they’re heavy brand and have never done demand gen, maybe not the best fit for us.

So that’s just a small sliver, but we look at a lot of different facets, even geography comes into play, and then we’ve really focused there and one of the things that I’ve done just for people to think about. I have the ADR team, they report in to me, and we’ve actually caught them that way, so I have data that shows the segment that we’re trying to move away from, we haven’t sold the deal there, and I think it’s about 4 to 5 months, so it works, but you have to make sure the incentives are in place because people will get to their number, however, they can, right? So, you actually have to make sure that the comp lines up to it. And that’s something, I think, we’ve done that’s been helpful. That being said, to your earlier point, you gotta grow, there’s a lot we need to do, and you can’t have such a narrow ICP. It’s like, hey, we only sell to companies in Virginia that have 10 people that are vets. I mean that, so I mean he’s got to be realistic too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, it’s an interesting line to walk, though. Because when I got to ON24 I looked at our addressable market. So, I looked at our TAM and is pretty massive and so, on one hand, it was exciting. It was like 250,000 companies in North America that we could sell to and so my CEO is excited. He’s going, “It looks great. We’ve got 1,200 customers right now. Joe, there’s so much room for growth.” And I said, “Focus is a beautiful thing.” And you’re right if we go scattershot here, and we just get 1% of this addressable market, we’re set, will be public, we’ll be worth a billion dollars. But will also have so much waste. We won’t be efficient. And so, we went through the painstaking process — and for us, it was pretty painful, because we weren’t that disciplined in our addressable market — and we cut out a lot when we really defined the ICP by vertical and region. We got laser-focused. And we’ve had some stumbles along the way — we realized our first pass at the ICP kind of sucked. We were too rigid on verticals. We didn’t use enough data. So, have you guys had to adjust it or were you right the first time?

Heidi Bullock:

You know, I feel it right now. We’ve been right, but early in the process, right? So, I think we’re a younger company than you guys, so I mean I’m sure it will evolve over time. I mean that and being flexible the name of the game I think, so far, we’re right. It’s been good and nice to see. I think another kind of point that I want to highlight that you asked, like how we use our own product. One of the cool things with Engagio is we actually can see, of the companies were focused on where we have coverage awareness and engagement, so that’s kind of another nice thing is we can sort of see, “hey here’s an account!” Like, maybe you have a series of accounts that are in a vertical. What your sales team can start with those where you have the right people and they’re aware and engaged and that’s been a huge even just coming here, I didn’t really have to get trained on Engagio we did that right away.

So that was actually kind of a nice thing. And then, we’ve basically been tracking like we have the different groups of target accounts and we kind of track them through their different statuses, and that’s been a nice thing to do to and report out on. So good, but I also think an important piece of kind of defining even if you have tiers. One thing I think is good is to meet with the sales team and the marketing team and say, “You know these are accounts that are going to get the white glove treatment, we’re going to have a lot of investment, you’ll get a lot of our time, but the tier-3 accounts, you know they might not get as much.” It’s more of a scalable approach, and I think that’s another kind of take away if I could add that today for people, I think that’s been really helpful. I even do that on the customer side as well because not all your accounts are the same and shouldn’t be necessarily be treated that way.

And what’s nice is the marketing team can figure out from a resource and budget perspective what’s reasonable because we’re all going to get the rep that’s like, “Hey this accountant, Florida. Can you guys fly out and do the workshop?” And it’s like no, we can’t because they are a tier-3 account, right? And that’s a really valuable thing to do is just making sure that you have those entitlements if you are thinking of a target account-based approach.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree. I think about, and we can talk more about ABM, I think a lot of marketers still struggle with this relationship with sales and having alignment. There’s no better way to get alignment than to have an agreed upon set of customers that there will be added emphasis and focus. I’m assuming that’s how it works at Engagio, but you want to talk about the partnership with sales?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, let’s all face it. I think being a partner with sales is just — I mean, when you have that, there’s really kind of nothing better — it makes all of our lives and days much easier, and I think, to me, there’s like a few key things that I’ve seen that really help it. We have a good partnership because we do. We sit down we agree on accounts and we agree on the strategy and one of the key things though, that’d I highlight, is what’s nice is when we do use Engagio and it’s just the technology that kind of supports those interactions. It’s not. People can’t do it without it, but it just makes it more easily. It just scales. So, I can see, “Well, my refs did follow up on those accounts where we did that executive dinner,” and I can see that engagement and still can my sales team, so it’s not like yeah marketing sucks like what are they doing? They actually can see it and that to me has been just immensely beneficial. It’s like, I feel like it helps marketers definitely have that cred that I think everybody deserves, which is a good thing.

And so, I feel like everyone understands the need to coordinate, it’s just I think historically it’s been like very manual and hard, and you don’t want to hunt down the AVP in Atlanta and say like, “Hey Mark, you know how’s it going? Did we do XYZ?” And I feel like Engagio just makes that more seamless, and it’s less of a struggle to do it. But I’ll throw out another thing, I’m actually comped like a salesperson, and so I think not only having the technology and the, again, the goal of these accounts, but think about how you comp your marketing folks, because I think my sales teams like, “Hey, she’s in it with us, and I am, and I care just about you know getting those deals done as much as anybody.” So, that’s something I still don’t see as much and I it surprises me actually.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of — it’s scary — there’s a lot of marketers that don’t want to step up and take that on and if you really want to have a partnership with sales you have to have skin in the game same thing over here for better or worse. I’m comped on our bookings and pipeline. We, at ON24, I own our pipeline and we do it in concert, and in cooperation, of course, with our head of sales, but we felt like that was the best way for marketing to walk the walk. So, yeah, I think that’s important. I don’t think that many people do it, though.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I don’t think that many people do. But even just making, even if it’s, like, a segment of your marketing team, like if you have a larger organization, maybe, I just think as much as you can do that as possible. I think really helps because again people do what they’re incentivized to do.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I think a lot of people don’t want a lot of marketers don’t want to work with sales. Like, you’re supposed to say you want to work or sales, but sales can be messy. I was talking to a CMO of a Fortune 100, I won’t mention the name, and I was having this conversation. It was it was it was over drinks…

Heidi Bullock:

You should mention the name

Joe Hyland:

I just refuse to do it because what I’m gonna say isn’t very nice. What she said to me, but she said I was having this discussion, and she said sales is messy, I don’t want to be involved, I don’t want my bonus tied to it. And she had been at this company for a year and a half is a huge company. She said I have not had one conversation with a sales rep, and you just I don’t know maybe you can you can get away with that when you’re a twenty-billion-dollar company size. It’s about growth like you have to be tied at the hip with sales.

Heidi Bullock:

I think, I’d actually even say you should be tied at the hip with customer success, too. I like the idea of like a revenue team that’s kind of my future model of how I’m thinking about things, and I don’t know, I get it, sales is messy, but you know what life is messy right? It’s like. I don’t know. I just feel like if you don’t want messiness then I don’t know why you’re in a c-level job. Like it’s messy, it’s hard, and I think it’s how you … I think part of our job is being elegant and figuring out how to work with other teams. It’s like, not everyone’s like us, right? And actually, that’s what makes it exciting and fun. It’s like, you know what matters to sales, you know what matters to your partner team. I mean if we want messy let’s talk to IT that can be really good times. I feel like it’s really critical in our roles. We’re sort of the hub of customer input and data, and it’s our jobs to kind of make sure that we can get along and facilitate that with other teams. So, I like salespeople and I always have felt like their good partners, and we always, I feel, like the companies where I’ve seen winning occur really regularly as when marketing and sales are aligned. That’s my just what I’ve seen though.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree, and I like that you threw the CS team in there because in a SaaS model you’re nothing if there’s a huge hole the bottom of your glass and revenue is falling out the bottom. How you market, that’s why I asked the question earlier on are you involved post-sale. I mean, it’s wildly different marketing strategy, if you, if you are involved in the whole life, cycle, yeah.

Heidi Bullock:

I think it’s better it actually. I think, makes you a better marketer because you have to really think about the beginning to end. It’s like kind of going back to the diet analogy. It’s like yeah, you can have weird soup for a week, and it’s like you might lose some weight, but then you get [to] change it again, and I just think like thinking about like balance and doing the right thing from the beginning. It’s just it’s just better for the business.

Joe Hyland:

And you understand the customer more, let’s face it. It’s easy to spout a whole bunch of bullshit on the front, and they get someone excited, and then they buy the product and they realize, “man, they were full of shit.”

Heidi Bullock:


Joe Hyland:

Yeah, but if you’re involved the whole way. Like you can’t do that.

Heidi Bullock:

Right, and I think it helps a lot with your acquisition strategy to because you can actually see what was effective or, maybe, some of the things that you’re positioning that you’re like, “Oh, that was maybe a stretch.”

Joe Hyland:

It’s true because we all do that, right? But I mean if you…

Heidi Bullock:


Joe Hyland:

Yeah, never, of course. Why did I say that? That’s ridiculous. Well, let’s talk about

Heidi Bullock:

We all make perfect content all the time

Joe Hyland:

Perfect content and everything we say is absolutely true. There’s no there’s no future selling in there.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right!

Joe Hyland:

I want to hear the difference — Marketo your experience at Marketo — and now at Engagio. Obviously, different company, but there’s a pretty strong Heritage from Marketo. You came from Marketo, John came from Marketo. I’d love to hear what the dynamics are like what the environment is like and some of the differences.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I’d say I’d see the similarities that I think are really, really cool and, first and foremost, we just really care about marketers and making them successful. I think that’s what was you know why I love Marketo it’s just the passion around the marketer who, let’s face it, for a long period of time, when I first got into marketing, you know the top question I get is, “Hey are those hats ready? And it’s like, “What?” And that’s the number one way to annoy me to ask about like hats or t-shirts like just I don’t even I’m not involved. It’s not my thing. But I feel like the passion around marketing and making them successful in making them perceive to really as a really value-add department and critical for driving the business is really common with both companies and it’s exciting. I just feel like any way that we can help marketers is like, that’s what we’re here to do and that’s a great feeling so that’s a similarity.

I think a difference is just like obviously size. Like, Marketo was so much bigger. But I see a lot of similarities because even when I joined Marketo people are like why can’t you use an ESP? Why do you need marketing automation, and so it’s a little bit, still, educating the market in and helping people see it’s not extremes, clearly, but what benefits you can get from evolving your technology stack. I see a lot of similarities. See the people that are involved from an early stage just really care a lot, and that’s fun and exciting and the DNA at Marketo early days was amazing, and, yeah, I think the biggest difference I see is probably now, just its size. And I think when you’re a CMO or a leader in an organization where you have 25, 30 people is very different than when you have a team of, like, eight. It’s just different.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, how big was Marketo when you when you arrived?

Heidi Bullock:

So, I got there in 2012 and so we were a few hundred people at the time. Yeah.

Joe Hyland:

Still relatively small I mean that’s not huge.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, still pretty small, right. And I think the interesting thing then was like the market itself was not many people have demand gen roles on teams. Like that, I remember, was a pretty novel thing. Where’s now everyone’s, like, of course, we have demand gen, and that’s kind of where we’re at with ABM. We’re starting to see there’s ABM leaders and people that are thinking along those lines. So, it’s kind of fun. It’s exciting. But I think Marketo how did a great job. I think building something that helped that really generally help marketing folks, and that’s just that’s awesome, and that’s again, I think, with Engagio, we’re just trying to take it to the next level and do our best to make marketers successful, whether you’re a senior level marketer, or you’re a marketing coordinator, and you’re like, “I have a lot of shit to do.” I’m gonna make this easier, right? We’ve all been there.

Joe Hyland:

So how do you set up the team at Engagio? So, obviously, you guys were significantly smaller when you spend you started. Talk to me about how you built the team and are continuing to build the team.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, so anyone can relate to when you add people it’s like the best feeling in the world next pizza or tacos, I guess. For me, I feel like that minute you get some of you can depend on and you have the help, it’s the best feeling in the world. So, I have our ADR organization reporting and to me and so that’s kind of one area. We have a marketing operations technology person. I think those roles are essential. And I think that’s something I’ve seen. I’m kind of like highlighting the areas I think that have changed, and I think, you know, I’m even thinking about Revenue Ops as we get bigger and somebody that probably thinks about you know technology for success, marketing, and sales that kind of has all those key folks reporting into them. That’s kind of what I’d like to do long-term. Again, because, I think, a lot of those technologies most people kind of depend on a few systems and having somebody that oversees all those, I think, matters.

I have somebody that does our strategic events and a lot of like high-level kind of ABM programs, and then I have a demand gen leader, and then we have somebody that does content, social and a graphics person. So, it’s, I mean, a lot of people probably think that’s pretty bare bones, and, again, like at Marketo, the team was closer to 25, if you didn’t count international teams — and it was organized by business units. We had an SMB team that was probably more transactional more demand gen and Enterprise team that did more account-based marketing, and then we had content, social and events. So, to me, when you’re anybody thinking about team building right now that the biggest thing, I think, is different is the person that does your operations and your tech stuff because those people are hard to find, and I think the expectations for them, in a lot of ways are kind of crazy. It’s like, “Oh you’re going to be a Marketo expert, and build a plan of record, oh, and, go fix the Salesforce that she would lead routing.” Not many people can do all those things, and so I think a lot of companies and a lot of CEOs that I see they’re like oh, why is why do you need all those things, or is the text that really that expensive and your, but yet they want all that perfection and so that to me is a struggle still.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you mentioned this at the start. Data at a few companies is clean. My wife, actually, works for LinkedIn and people at LinkedIn complain that their data is dirty, and if LinkedIn can’t have perfectly clean data when people tell them where they work, and what job they have, who can? But yeah, I think data is in some ways becoming sexy again, which is an absurd statement, but it’s so important particularly if you get a more and more focus with your marketing, or you don’t have the right contact information you’re screwed. I think those are becoming critical roles.

Heidi Bullock:

They are, and I think that it’s critical, but I think the piece that people don’t quite get it’s like, “Oh you don’t just buy you know marketing Automation, and you’re done?” It’s like, that’s the beginning, and I think it’s like who’s managing it? Who’s keeping all those systems clean? Reviewing your data? Making sure you think they’re ongoing deduping. I just think most people don’t have an understanding of that investment, and it’s hard when you’re a small company right are held to those standards that the level of investment is different, so that’s where you have to be Scrappy and I think pretty clever about it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, I agree and it’s not one and done right like it’s not like you it’s not binary. You don’t do it, and then move on to the next thing like that’s forever.

Heidi Bullock:

It’s like brushing your teeth. You gotta do it every day.

Joe Hyland:

That’s funny. That’s a great analogy. Data is like brushing your teeth, you heard it here. All right, so, to wrap up. What kind of advice do you have for younger marketers in their career or marketers? Who are looking to do Dynamic things?

Heidi Bullock:

That’s a great question. I think, for me, this is probably going to be a little bit different than maybe something other folks would say I really look for people that love to learn — they just have this hunger for learning and a willingness to get in there and try a lot of different things, and I can’t overemphasize humility. I think I like people that just, even I feel, like, in our rules, I don’t claim to know everything I feel like I’m learning every day, and I think as you get older you actually realize how much you don’t know if I think that excitement of learning is what makes us better.

Joe Hyland:

I know something is happening outside my office.

Heidi Bullock:

But I think that’s what I look for is just people that are smart, and they’re hungry they want to try that they have that humility. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m, I know it all because I’ve been in marketing for six months.” It’s like, “Oh gosh, not at all.” And I think the people that I’ve seen do the best are just the ones that continue to learn, and they just stay humble. I mean it’s not to say you can’t take credit for your accomplishments. I’m not saying that but it’s just the willingness to keep learning and getting better, and I think. Really worth that for me.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s great advice. That’s a great insight. I mean so much of what we do in our jobs is I think problem-solving, but that’s true in any job, and there’s no there’s no playbook that you can come in and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, right? Yeah, there might be a methodology which is different, but there’s no always right way to handle something so I think that’s a great point and let’s face it. No one wants to work with an asshole and humility is a great a great quality of life.

Heidi Bullock:

It is because I think when you when it comes down to it. I mean we all are on teams and the team just has to be crushing it, right? It’s not about me it’s not about you, it’s not about one person. It’s about, you know, how’s that team hitting our goals and making sure that we’re winning, and that’s, to me, I think if it just like that’s like a team sport. You could have a rocking forward on a soccer team or basketball team, but that’s not enough to win the tournament, right?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I was true. All right. I’m digging the analogies. Heidi, this was fantastic. I really enjoyed the discussion and thanks for the time.

Heidi Bullock:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Why Renewed Interest in ABM? A Q&A Discussion

Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, is nothing new, but it’s gaining a lot of traffic in B2B marketing circles. The concept, one of targeting communications for a singular account or person, has been around in name for roughly 15 years and likely practiced much longer. But if you listened to the discussions across the B2B marketing landscape today, you’d have to assume ABM is a new innovation.

Why the renewed interest?

That’s the question our keynote panel at Webinar World 2018 sought to answer. The panelists, Kim Davis, Editor-in-Chief, DMN, Karen Steele, CMO, LeanData and David Lewis, founder and CEO, DemandGen International, sat down to discuss ABM and why it has had such a resurgence in the past few years.

I had the good fortune to ask our group of panelists a few additional questions about ABM following their discussion. What follows is a brief Q&A, edited for clarity, brevity and context:


So, I just kind of wanted to have a continuation of what you guys were discussing onstage … What, to your minds, goes into an ABM program?

David Lewis:

I have no idea.

Karen Steele:

So, I think it starts with a fundamental culture. The way I would frame this is people, process, and technology. And I do think it starts with the people. Sales and marketing have to agree that going after target accounts is strategic to the business and is important and you have to start with targeting.

David Lewis:

I’d support that. As I was saying onstage, you have to perform this cultural alignment between sales and marketing. They don’t know how to work together. They’re cats and dogs, offense and defense, Air Force and Army — whatever analogy you want to use, they are wired very differently. Their skill-sets and expertise are very different. Sales are hunter-killers — on the ground, boots on the streets. Their bullets and weapons are communication and contracts, right? And marketing is all about content to create engagement. They need to know who they’re going after and who is the battlefield commander.

To follow the analogy, who’s the person that saying, “Okay, team, let’s charge.” So, the roles and responsibilities — the people side — is, “What the roles and responsibilities? Who’s responsible for the target to account list?” If you ask sales, they’re not normally very effective at establishing a target account list because they think about territories and they think about specific companies because of dynamics that relate to sales as opposed to relate to the ideal customer profile.

Marketing and product marketing have more the expertise around who are ideal customer profile is the pain points and who are easy to convert, slightly harder to convert, and going to be an incredibly difficult convert. So, if sales, from a people perspective, says, “I want to have Cisco as a customer,” but Cisco has been using another solution for a decade — and there’s no agents of change there, there’s no desire to change and there’s no perceived pain —they’ll just bang their head and bang their head against the wall. And if marketing says, “We want to go after a customer that doesn’t have an incumbent solution,” they have a very different education process instead of a swap opportunity — it’s a different way to pursue it.

So … If you align culturally, and then, from the people perspective, talk about the roles and respect the expertise, and then you can say, “Okay, what’s going to be our process for doing it? How will we actually how we actually establish the target accounts? Where will we put those Target accounts? How will we track our progress against the goals that we’re setting for ourselves? What are realistic conversion time periods for these accounts? What’s the role of marketing and sales in engaging in winning over these accounts? Are we going to create content that is specific to these targets or are we going to use the same old content we have?”  

So really mapping out a battle plan to go after these targets and treat them as targets that you want to — instead of destroy — win over. Then you can say, “Okay, now that we have a game plan, you know the rules and responsibilities. Let’s get the technology that we need to either fill gaps, like something lean data does, address some fundamental technology gaps, but also provide us the tools to help with targeting and engagement.”  

Karen Steele:

And I agree, the only comment I would add is that I think the old school sales and marketing model was volume-versus-value. So, demand creation organizations, they were comped and rewarded on putting you know having a webinar for a thousand people as opposed to a targeted webinar for ten — getting 20,000 leads per-quarter into the funnel as opposed to 200 that matter. And so, I think, there’s sort of a mind-shift in terms of value over volume.

David Lewis:

We’re still piloting with the incentive stuff Kim asked about. So, for example, from compensation, sales has more traditional quota and commission against quota type plan. But what we’ve done with marketing is we created a tip-jar model, which is we’re putting a certain dollar amount for every target account that is won by the organization where marketing had any level of involvement. And we’re pretty liberal on the “any level of involvement.” We don’t want to over-architect the comp-planning — just keep it simple. So, there’s an incentive to establish the targets — and maybe that was your level of involvement was helping to establish the targets — maybe it was producing content that goes out to those targets, maybe it was campaign membership. But the tip jar model, meaning that a certain amount of money of every close won goes in and then that is distributed across individuals in the marketing team.

We also have incentives in the sales compensation that are bonuses for winning targets, so they are not only going to get their commission, but they’ll get extra incentives for target accounts that they win. And there’s specific language in there around what constitutes a target account. You know, it has to have been established as a target account before, for example, the opportunity was ever created. If it’s not, then you can game the system. And how far back before that opportunity was created is also detailed out. Not because we want to make the complex difficult, we want to force the mechanism of establishing the targets and then pursuing those targets and not going, “God, this should probably be a target account don’t you think? It, like, fits our target, so let’s make it a target account.” And then, lo-and-behold, a couple weeks later and opportunity is created. You want to avoid that type of behavior.

We mentioned earlier there’s a cultural shift that needs to take place in order to really execute ABM well. What sort of shifts are required and how could you do that in an organization that has old habits that it needs to step away from? How do you identify that need?

David Lewis:

To me, it’s an accountability chart rather than an org chart. So, if you have an org chart mentality, then sales and marketing looks like two separate organizations. If you take an accountability chart, which is saying, “What are the people, what are the roles and responsibilities that we need for everything from establishing targets to winning those accounts even onboarding — if you wanted to go past that?”

So, you make boxes and you put in those boxes bullet points of what the responsibilities are and forget whether that person sits in sales or marketing or has that territory or not. Then, eventually, it can fit into names to go into those boxes, but it’s actually dehumanizing the responsibilities so that it doesn’t look like two org charts. That’s what we’ve found is working, and by the way, to be very candid, we’re always trying new workshop approaches to align these teams because it is not natural for them to work harmoniously together. So, the accountability chart has been another way that we say “What do we need to do to do this? Okay? Who is going to take responsibility?” And it may wind up where you would have thought those responsibilities are, but the conversation really illustrates, for sales, we’re not just arts and crafts over here in marketing. We can actually produce very-targeted, highly-effective content and tell stories to the accounts. We need to know who those accounts are, the industries, the sizes, why they’re an ideal customer profile.

And sales, hey, we respect what you do, you’re not just an evangelist with a contract — you are selling, and you are winning over the hearts and minds of prospects. But which ones? Which accounts? And what’s your play for each one of those? And it also just to tag on one last thought, is, very often, targeted kind of selling — especially for top-tier accounts —is not just sales and marketing, but the executive team can often get involved in those target accounts. If you have a very big whale, account that you’re going after, these top, top-tier one — you’re going to have your CEO involved, or your head of marketing involved, or your product management…

Karen Steele:

Or an exec sponsor on each, I agree…

David Lewis:

Exactly. And so, having the accountability box that says, “Gosh, at this stage of the deal with these accounts we really need someone to do this.” [The Accountability Chart] allows that person to get involved in the conversation understand what their role and responsibilities might be…

Kim Davis:

You need to change at the data level as well, don’t you? Because if you’re gonna do ABM it’s insane if you have silos of data — sales over here marketing over there — working on different information about the same account. So that’s got to change as well.

Karen Steele:

Yeah, right absolutely.

David Lewis:

For sure. The fact that the CRM and marketing automation systems are two fundamental systems kind of, still, creates this separation, but it’s really one data set with different views into it by the different applications. I’m often surprised by how many marketing people have never seen the innards of a CRM and know what it looks like to sales or vice-versa. Marketing ever takes a time and say, “Let me show you the power of nurturing. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could send it four touch email with your name on it when you create a contact? I can do that for you if you want. You can automate emails going out to a contact? Yeah, let me show you kind of what it would look like to do it.” You know, that kind of shared knowledge becomes very, very powerful.

You guys discussed, kind of at length about having data confidence…

Karen Steele:



So, what steps should marketers, sales organizations in general, take towards gaining data confidence?

David Lewis:

Karen hit it, which is, it starts with people — I was bolting onto [the point that] you got to have a data person in marketing today.

Karen Steele:


David Lewis:

I don’t see it ever done effectively unless someone owns the responsibility for database management in marketing.

Karen Steele:

I agree and I think right now it either defaults to marketing ops or sales ops, depending on the company, but very few people have that title and sort of crossover — there’s not revenue operations in every company, which, in some ways, I wish there were, because then that the whole universe would be brought together — but you’ve got to find a sort of the data czar.  

David Lewis:

The title we’re seeing emerge, and, suggested emerge, is data operations manager or data operations. And larger companies are committing to it, they’re finally going, “Okay, so what’s the role and responsibilities?” List sourcing, data hygiene, data enrichment, data integration, support for analytics — it’s a very much a marketing operations function within marketing operations. But all they do is think and work about data segmentation to enable personalization and targeting ABM account list management. And the companies that are committing to it, they’re doing well.

What we’re also seeing show up is the new title of ABM manager — account-based marketing manager.

Kim Davis:

Oh, that’s interesting.

Karen Steele:

Oh, I haven’t either.

David Lewis:

Daniel Day is at — what’s the name of the company? It’s a cute little name. I’ll come up with it, but yeah, he’s an ABM marketing manager.

Karen Steele:

I’ve seen field markers start to attach to their titles. Which is interesting, just to sort of say “I add more value.”

David Lewis:

And he owns the process and technology and responsibility and that’s what he does. And, you know, what’s interesting is that you don’t have to really be a large company to put someone in that role if what you’re doing is very targeted.

Let’s say you need 15 customers next year. A lot of companies who sell to, like, the public sector — they’re not looking for a really wide net of customers. [They’re] very, very targeted. So, why not have someone who that’s their role and responsibility — to organize and orchestrate across the company — the process and technology for turning those accounts.


Okay. Kind of a wider question — a larger picture, I guess — the premise of this discussion is that ABM has been around for a while, so why is it taking off now?

David Lewis:

[As] I was saying onstage, it’s taking off now, or in focus, now candidly for two reasons: one is marketing technology companies are always looking to create on the horizon a new shining light…

Karen Steele:

A shiny a new object.

David Lewis:

A New Hope, it’s like Star Wars. Guess what? There’s something else for you to battle the Empire, okay? So that is actually fueling it — companies like Engagio, companies like LeanData, several other companies — have put the ABM moniker on their ships and said, “We’ve got solutions.”

So that is happening, and if you chart on Google Search “ABM” over the last several years, you’ll see that — woosh — it’s all of a sudden became a topic. The reason it’s sticking at this point, and not a fad, is that it is an effective sales strategy that has worked that now marketing can operationalize. We never had the ability to do target account marketing in the past — the tools weren’t there. We could buy or get contact records galore and send emails, or direct mail, or any type of marketing program to them, but we never had a way to aggregate these contacts into accounts and treat them holistically and do things like account scoring, do things like matching the leads together as a buying committee and now we have the tools and technology to do it.

So, it’s really like, if you could do something in the past, and now you’ve invented technology to adapt it to be used in a different department or function — that is really to me why it’s happening. And then there were a bunch of companies who said, “We can enable this. We can take you know a tried-and-true sales approach and help marketing operationalize it.”  

Kim Davis:

And for bigger companies, the technology means you can do it at scale. You can do it across a very large number of accounts, which you couldn’t do before.

David Lewis:

Great point, yeah.

Karen Steele:

And there’s tons of I agree with all of that, and I think over the last couple few years in particular, there’s just been a ton of education happening around ABM. So, whether you have the technology today or not, you can go learn about it. And you now have a whole host of solutions that you can choose from to do different elements of it, whether it’s ad-oriented ABM, or campaign-oriented ABM or whatever it is —there’s a bunch of different choices


David Lewis:

Education has been key because it’s a three-letter acronym that, let’s face it, we all went to school and learned about the four Ps and many other things about marketing. We didn’t learn about the process and technologies for ABM — that wasn’t anything in the curriculum.

And even over the past — more than 6 years ago — no companies were practicing this where you could actually hire people who have this experience and know-how. So, the tools weren’t there the know-how wasn’t there and the recommendations are guidance education didn’t exist throughout our careers. So, another reason it’s here is because the tools are creating the practitioner’s ability to say, “Here the recipes how to do it.”


Are there any dangers of going overboard with ABM?

David Lewis:

I would say it’s making sure you know what your priorities are.

Karen Steele:

Yeah, I think just it’s striking the right balance for. Again, I think I said it, it sort of depends on your what are your sales motions that are going to affect your business in terms of your revenue goals? And just have the right level of focus. I think many companies are doing ABM plus other things, and that’s probably the right mix for a lot of companies.

I don’t know, maybe you do Dave, I don’t know a lot of companies that are just ABM that’s all they’re doing. But I think in the B2B world the customers we talked to they’re doing a mix of things. They have multiple inbound strategies, multiple outbound strategies and somewhere in the mix is ABM.

David Lewis:

We put forward a framework that we called the demand factory. It’s a metaphor for what you’re creating. You know, since we all have all these different tools, what are we doing? Like, if your CEO and your CFO or, kind of, like, your venture capitalist or marketing — they’re giving you the budget — it’s a way to say to them, “Here’s what we’re creating.” And what we’re creating is this demand factory. And the four areas of that factory — it’s called ACME, the name of the factory, so it’s Acquired, Convert, Measure and Expand —and if you don’t assess where you are in each of those disciplines, are we really good at lead acquisition? How are we at conversion, converting leads into customers? How are we measuring marketing performance? How are we at the lower funnel — which is [often] the forgotten country?

If you don’t take that step back approach and say, “What’s the goals of the company? Where are we strong? Let’s put our efforts into increasing that.” If acquisition and conversion would be stronger if you had an account-based marketing and sales strategy, then put that in motion. But if you’re, like, a company that is just generating a tremendous amount of demand and that’s not your problem, and it’s more converting that demand that you’re generating to customers, maybe need to focus their first and put in just some basics like lead scoring and lead nurturing add a contact level before you layer on this account-based approach. If you don’t have any demand at the top of the funnel, you’re gonna have pretty big challenge implementing an ABM strategy. There’s building blocks that need to happen.

Q: All right last question: what books are you reading?

David Lewis:

There’s books that I’ve bought that I don’t read, which my publisher tells me, as an author, that only one in 10 books that are purchased are read.

Tools of Titans is on my nightstand, which is by Tim Ferriss, and I’m reading it for two reasons. One, I like the content, which is all about the recipes of incredibly successful people and what they’ve done. But I’m working on a book called “Change Agents,” which is all about the Karen Steeles of the world and what she’s done — just taking that model and say, “Here’s my playbook of what I’ve done,” in a specific area that Karen has expertise in. So, I’m selfishly reading it to take his approach and bring it to our industry.

Karen Steele:

I’m not currently reading any business book because I’m a little busy, but um I love anything from by Seth Godin or Simon Sinek.

Kim Davis:

Well, I’m not reading anything.

Karen Steele:

But I’m gonna read Change Agents when it comes out.

David Lewis:

Yeah, thank you. Agents of Change or Change Agents? You’re my focus group. I like Change Agents.

Kim Davis:


David Lewis:

Okay done. So, when it comes out you be like, “I helped name that book.”


All right, thank you guys for taking the time to talk I appreciate it.

CMO Confessions EP. 1: Heinz Marketing’s Matt Heinz

Last week we ran a small campaign over our social media channels poking fun at brands that get a little too excited about April Fools’ Day. The point was to call out bad marketing habits and to promote the idea that — as B2B leaders — we should talking about these compulsions openly. It also, and this might be a little more honest and to the point, was to promote our new podcast, CMO Confessions*.

The aim of CMO Confessions is to explore what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. It can be confusing and, at times, downright unpleasant. The advantage we have today is that we can share our experiences and advice with millions of people at the click of a button.

For our inaugural episode of CMO Confessions I talked to President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, Matt Heinz. We had a great talk about how marketers can build out a predictable pipeline, why we think account-based marketing is experiencing a resurgence and why, in our opinions, CMOs ought to own revenue responsibility. You can find a link to that episode right here.

Additionally, you can read our transcript of the whole episode after the jump for your own notes. Just in case you wanted to double-check something you heard.

So, without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s talk.

*Was that bait and switch a bad habit? Sure was. But, as I said, we all have our weaknesses — we ought to at least air them.

The Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello and welcome to the very first episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, Chief Marketing Officer here at ON24 and joining me on our first — our maiden voyage — is Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing out in Redmond, Washington.

Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt Heinz: Hey, Joe. Thanks very much for having me.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, this is fantastic. You have a wealth of experience. You’ve been doing this for a couple decades as a practitioner before you started your own shop. I’ve heard you speak on numerous occasions. We’re fortunate to have you coming to Webinar World in a couple weeks, and you’re going to be presenting on the main stage, but your career is essentially centered around helping organizations drive measurable results, greater sales revenue with marketing that produces results.

Matt Heinz: Yeah, I think one of our VPs has said “You can’t buy a beer with a Marketing Qualified Lead.” So, as important as MQLs are, you know, it’s not the be-all end-all. So, helping companies build revenue-centric, predictable pipelines — that’s our jam. And so that’s what we spend time doing.

Joe Hyland:  Yeah, that’s the fun side of marketing, right? And, it’s funny, you see companies get themselves in trouble, or departments get themselves in trouble, when it turns into this pissing match between marketing and sales on what’s qualified, what’s not, versus what’s actually driving results.

Matt Heinz: I think, you know — as a lifelong marketer — when it comes to that alignment between sales and marketing, I’ll be the first to say this is marketing’s fault, right? I mean, sales by definition owns a number, and so when sales is grinding it out of the end of the month and the end of the quarter,  trying to hit their number, and us marketers, we’re down at the bars celebrating that we hit our retweet goal, like, there’s something wrong with that picture. And I wish that was just a joke — that’s a real story from a client a couple years ago.

So, there’s a significant amount of misalignment. I think that if you can migrate the culture of marketing to be to act more like a profit-center, to be more revenue responsible — sometimes that means different focus areas different actions different priorities — but I think that is that clearly the future of B2B marketing.

It doesn’t mean everything you do is going to be attributable to pipeline, but it means you have to have that orientation that what you are doing has to have revenue and sales responsibilities at the end of the day.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think sports analogies are often forced, but I think there should be one metric that determines victory — and we’ll talk about growth in a couple minutes — but, for me, I feel that it is revenue and on the sales side it’s new bookings. So, on our marketing team, our north star is our annual sales target, and then we work backwards, right? There was a lot of things that lead to that — so there were upstream indicators — but we talk revenue, we talk new bookings, and then we immediately go to pipeline.

Then we get to the social components and how much content is required, like cool things like this. I think we do them because they drive results, but does this have a pipeline target on it? And, I mean, that’s silly, but the end of the day I think you got to combine the two.

Matt Heinz: You do, and I think there is there is a separation between what I would call, sort of, your operational dashboard and your executive dashboard. You know, if you’re going up to the c-suite, if you’re going to your peers and communicating what marketing did, you don’t want that report to be full of open rates and click rates, and retweets.

I mean, … having access to an audience and having the attention of an audience are two different things. And you’re not going to build pipeline if you don’t have the attention and engagement of the people that you care about. So, there’s plenty of work that goes into building attention and building that engagement that is not a straight line to revenue, but is a required predecessor to building that pipeline.

That’s a bunch of detail that — on a weekly scorecard — your c-level peers don’t want to see. I think if you come to the table with metrics that your CFO already understands and already recognizes as valuable, I think … you can sort of work back and walk back into “Here’s how we’re leading into that.” I think you’re getting somewhere.

Since you’re calling this the CMO confessions, I will say that I’ve heard from a number of CMOs that migration to having that revenue responsibility is actually quite scary, you know? When you’ve got a marketing team that has been used to measuring nothing further in the funnel than just a marketing qualified lead and has been valuing impression and valuing things like share a voice — this is a different paradigm. This is a cultural shift, and sometimes, I’ve seen some of the biggest impediments of that being the CMO themselves. Sometimes wittingly, sometimes unwittingly. But as we as we mentioned earlier, I don’t know that you have a choice as a B2B marketer these days.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think that’s a great point and you have to walk the walk. So, at ON24, maybe I’m a moron for signing up for this, but I own, and our marketing team owns, our pipeline. So, not marketing sourced, not what goes through SDRs, like, we think that’s bullshit. Do we model it? Yes. Like, we’re not morons. But I own the number.

We had our board meeting yesterday. I have a close partnership with Jim Blackie, our global head of sales, but I present the pipeline. And we don’t get into, at the board level, of the details of where it comes to and if there’s a there’s a pipeline problem, I own it. I’ve got my bonus tied to it. This might be where, you know, who knows if it’s smart or not. But that’s, for me, that’s walking the walk. That’s saying, marketing, when we sign up for revenue — it’s not it’s not a vanity metric. We’re tying comp to it.

Matt Heinz: So, one of the biggest objections I hear from CMOS that they don’t feel comfortable embracing that revenue responsibility will say, you know, “I just I’m not comfortable signing up for a number I don’t have control of.” I’m guessing that your counterpart in sales does not have control of those deals getting close any more than you do, you know?

Joe Hyland:  Exactly!

Matt Heinz: And when you’re selling into large organizations, let’s not pretend that the prospect has control over when the deal closes. There’s so many variables that play. I mean, for everybody, like you just need more pipeline, bigger pipeline, to sort of make the numbers work in your favor. So, if we take control off the table and simply just say listen, “We have a number to hit, we’re in this together.” We think a lot is B2B marketers about attribution and who’s getting credit for things and where is the deal coming from. I could make an argument that between sales and marketing, maybe we should take attribution off the table.

I don’t care if this came from sales, I don’t care if this came from marketing. Now, I care if it came from this expensive marketing channel or that expensive marketing channel. I want to know which of those worked, and my waiting is, but I really don’t care about marketing-sourced versus sales-sourced. I care about hitting the number. Because we’re all gonna get fired if we don’t hit the number. So, somehow, we still got to do that. And there’s an awful lot of unproductive time spent just arguing over who gets credit.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, “unproductive,” I think, is the key word there and it just becomes two people digging their heels in arguing for what ultimately are just optics. Now, maybe I’m in a fortunate position where we’re privately held, backed by Goldman Sachs and a few other firms. We’re all shareholders and, so, for me, winning, as a company, is our company actually reaching some sort of a financial goal. So I care about the end results. For us, I care about our recurring revenue and, for me, that’s more important than getting dinged because we didn’t deliver pipeline regardless of whose problem it is, or fault. And if we’re if we don’t deliver those results there are bigger issues.

Matt Heinz: Well what I don’t want this to become is, “We move the pendulum all the way over to you know we have to account for every penny. We spend that everything we do has to have a pipeline metric around it.”

Because if, we because if we did that then all we would ever do is just buy ads. Because the ads, we can measure the ads. We can see results right away. We would never invest in content. We would never invest in podcast like this. You would never invest in making the migration over time from renting attention to owning the attention of your prospects. And we know how powerful and high-leverage owning the tension is, but you don’t buy your way into that. You have to earn that over time and that takes time and effort. But then, just like in a SaaS business, where you’ve got lifetime value increasing, you know, profitability, when you can own attention when you can get people that want to come here from you that becomes an annuity, that creates massive scale and efficiency in a marketing organization.

I mean, doing a podcast like this and doing blog and sort of doing, you know, other content elements — they don’t they don’t have to be immediately attributable to revenue today, but if you talk about it in the perspective we just did — that we’re doing this so that we can own the attention of prospects so that acquisition and retention and loyalty becomes easier and more efficient down the road — that is still a revenue-centric conversation to be having. I’m still putting that in terms of the business can understand.

Joe Hyland: Well, it’s your north star, right? It’s what the end goal is and I think it’s silly to only move one step away from that. You’re right, you would just create no content. The marketing team would just be full of demand gen marketers and, perhaps, SDRs, right? I don’t think that’s a prescription for success.

Though it’s interesting. I think we’re sliding down the slippery slope of a lot of organizations doing this. I just read comments from Marc Benioff, when he was at Davos not too long ago, that trust is more important than growth. Which I think is an interesting comment, particularly for a CEO of a publicly traded company, which has a pretty rich multiple based off of growth. His point isn’t that growth isn’t important, but it’s just what you were saying and owning, kind of having a seat at the table, and essentially earning trust. Well, that’s probably what leads to growth. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as to how marketers are sliding down the slippery slope and moving away from great marketing.

Matt Heinz: Well, I don’t think you can. I think that if you’re moving away from what is always been great marketing, where you build trust and credibility and respect with your brand and your people and your company, if we move all the way to the other side of the first of the pendulum and just become growth hackers, where all we’re doing is optimizing Facebook pages and landing pages and digital ads — that may hit your, you may hit your demo request number tomorrow, but you’re not going to build a lasting brand, you’re not going to build a company that’s around for 100 years. You’re going to be very point-driven and transactional and you’re going to build a house on quicksand that your competitors are very quickly going to come and tear down.

And I, you know, I say that as a math marketer, as someone who starts a marketing plan with a spreadsheet, who wants things to be attributable, but I also highly value the brand and the reputation and the voice that you can create that gives you the benefit of the doubt, that makes you someone people seek out. I mean, we were talking to someone yesterday about how do you migrate your marketing from being interruptive to irresistible? How do you get to the point where you got people that want to get your marketing? [Who] want to be on your list that want to experience what you have to say?

Every company today is a media company, or can be a media company, and can build that audience. You have that opportunity, and I don’t care how like money-grubbing you are, or how conservative your CFO is, you go and tell them that you can create, your company can be a magnet for all the people in your audience and the people want to come listen to you? Everybody wants that asset, for sure.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, um yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. But I think what’s happening, and as a funny story, is, uh, a friend of mine, um, works for a company where they’re tracking pipeline on almost a daily basis, and so the CEO saw a report in Salesforce and said, “We’re behind in pipeline today. What campaign can we run tomorrow to juice it?” And he didn’t have a good rapport with the CEO, so, they, the next day, they lit up they lit up their database, three million people with a click of a button, to try to drum up some clicks and short-term pipe. I think we’re seeing more and more of that.

Matt Heinz: Oh, it’s there’s no question we’re seeing more and more of that. And I think that that scorched-Earth mentality is going to have massive negative impact for companies as they try to sustain growth. You know, for folks listening to this that are anywhere near B2B marketing — I’m sure you all get the same — terrible BDR emails that we all get 800 times a day from people that have that same [email] —nowhere in that email is there any kind of value for me. All it is, is “Can I have 15 minutes of your time?” right? And the reason why we keep getting those is because they work enough to make a spreadsheet show that they work — that the VC say, “That’s the model keep doing that.” And A) they do work because there’s always three or four percent of the market that is actively buying, according to Gartner. So, someone out there has a need and wants to see that right away, but the collateral damage you are doing to the rest of the market, the damage you’re doing to your brand and reputation by going scorched-earth to hit your number tomorrow or this week or this month — if that aggressive rep leaves your company next week, or if someone comes in and finally convinces you to stop doing those kind of tactics — you’re still left that bad taste in the mouth, that bad impression with that prospect.

So, again, that’s a house built on quicksand that someone else can come and take over very quickly simply by offering a better experience. I mean, the challenge of sales guys at CEB have said, for the last couple years, “How you sell is more important than what you sell, especially when you’re building trust report and pipeline with your prospects.” So, I think you really have to be careful. Yes, you may be behind on your demo number today, and, yes, there may be things you can do to juice it for tomorrow — but you have to take the long view on this stuff or else you won’t have a business after this quarter.

Joe Hyland:  Yeah, I feel it every morning when I check my email I every morning there are 40 to 50 emails in the first five minutes or spent just pruning that list down to what’s real and it’s painful.

Matt Heinz: So, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. I end up putting myself on some of those lists so I can see — I mean because there are some good examples. There’s a company — I was at  sastra conference just recently and had some follow-up in there — there was one guy that followed up, and he clearly had read some of my recent content and was commenting on things he had seen and then the last half of the email I got was probably a template — it looked a little more templatized and less personalized — but, I mean, in today’s world that stood out like a like a sore thumb.

He was selling something that I had no interest in, it would have not even qualified for us, so there wasn’t really a match there, but the approach is good. And you can’t automate that approach, but you can sure create a process around it. Even if you can’t get as many emails out the door with your spam cannon, you’re likely to get a better engagement rate with people you really care about. So, I think there’s trade-offs on all of that, but it’s, I don’t know, you got to balance the short-term activity and pipeline delivery needs with the long-term value you’re building with customers that will, eventually, be ready to buy.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing — we actually get that question for webinars. How being a webinar provider? How long should a webinar be? And my answer is how much content do you have? Do you have … you’ve got 15 minutes of great content? There’s your answer. You’ve got two hours, and this is a super-targeted session and the attention span of your audience is there? Great, have a two-hour webinar.

There’s no magic answer. Same thing on emails, like, you’ve got something compelling to say and you think you can genuinely help someone, I think you’ll have good results. If you’re doing connect-and-sell with 23-year-olds just lighting up your market —  I don’t think it’s going to work. And you’re right, they do that because — I mean, I’ve looked we built these models ourselves — if you only need two or three percent response rate, and you send it to a couple hundred thousand people, shit, we got good pipelines. Like, is that really smart?

Matt Heinz:  You know, you got to be careful what you wish for on that. And I think that, if you’ve got, you know — whether it’s the 23-year-olds lighting up the emails—  we think about content, whether it’s content that you send out, something like this, or when you think about sort of those SDR emails, I think the lighter and earlier in the relationship you are with someone, the less content you can put in front of them. If you’ve got an hour and a half of things that are interesting to say, you have to earn my attention. I’m not going to give you an hour and a half, and then say, “Well that actually sucks.” You know? I think you start with 100 words. You start with five minutes. You start with an interesting video. You start with, you know, it might even be someone else that listens to you and says, “Boy, you got to listen to this.”

I committed to a college football podcast a year and a half ago because Craig Rosenberg, who we both know, said it was great, right? And, so I subscribed without having checked any of them out because, it’s free, there’s low-cost entry there, but [I’m] listening to them for an hour and a half talking about college football recruiting based on someone’s recommendation. That’s interesting. But if I didn’t know about it, I’d probably listen to it a lot less than that to make sure I liked it. But I think, you know, the content you put out has to be good, it has to be engaging, it has to be relevant to your audience and it has to be relevant to the stage of the buying journey they’re at to get and keep their attention.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, and there was trust, right? So, that came from a recommendation of someone you respect, or somewhat respect.

Matt Heinz:  Let’s not go respect. I know we both know of…

Joe Hyland: If Craig is listening, somewhat respect. Right, so you said, “Okay, cool. I’m not gonna scour the market and do all this research, cool, recommend it to me.” Yeah, that’s funny. What else are you seeing out there? What do you love? What do you hate and we’ve talked a lot about the pet peeve so far, but um what some great marketing you’re seeing?

Matt Heinz: Well, I mean I think we’ve we are seeing more companies invest in building what we call sort of the predictable pipeline, which is sort of getting away from random acts of sales and marketing that a lot of people do and you kinda referenced it earlier, “Oh, man. We’re light on the activity today. What can we do to light up a bunch of demos tomorrow?”

And there are times when the fire drill is necessary when you need to be agile. You need to pivot, but if you hit your number this month, or this quarter, like, what’s your confidence that you’re going to do it again next month and next quarter? And that’s not just about your campaigns. It’s, like, you know, how buyer-centric is your messaging in your content?  How well aligned? Is your sales and marketing team together? What process and tools do you have to facilitate greater efficiency in that system, and then what sort of go-to-market activities are in play that can feed the right volume of activity and leads back to you? And then what tools you have to report on that as well?

So, you know, we’ve developed, sort of, this six-stage sort of critical pipeline framework, these seven areas, that people can look at and say, “I’m strong here. I’m weak here. Here’s a place I need to focus on doing better.” I think a lot of companies in a lot of marketers are looking for the silver bullet, we’re looking for the one thing that’s gonna do it for us, right? I think four years ago — it was five years ago — it was social selling. Three years ago, it was ABM. Last year, it was AI. Like look, there’s no silver bullet. Like, I think, as we all painfully know, that have been in marketing for a while, it’s doing a lot of little things well and doing them consistently and repeatably, with scale.

And so, that’s where this idea of the predictable pipeline came. It’s just that you have to create a system that you can rely on that will deliver high-confidence results over time. So, I think the marketers that are investing in building that system — and it’s not just technology — it’s knowing what’s working, knowing your buying journey. It’s getting it’s fundamentals. That’s what we’re seeing a lot of companies really invest in and that’s helping them align with the sales organization to create that predictability and confidence.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I like that you mentioned the fundamentals because that’s not sexy to talk about so.

Matt Heinz: No.

Joe Hyland: Five years ago, I found, when I’d have conversations with marketing leaders, or people even on our own team, they would list a whole bunch of tactics and that was kind of the strategy: was a collection of tactics. And I think it was easy to course correct on that — easier at least. Now, what I’m finding, is tactics are being replaced with technology — and we’re a technology firm, so perhaps we’re adding to some of this — but the conversations I have are, “Oh, we’re going to invest in this technology this year you mentioned ABM or dabbling with AI.” And there’s nothing wrong with putting in a tech stack — obviously, you need to do that in today’s day and age — but putting in certain types of technology does not replace your strategy. And, going back to core fundamentals, [that’s] actually something that gets brought up in board meetings, and my CEO, we’ll say, “What’s working? Like, our we’re doing really well as a company our pipelines quite predictable?” And I list really boring things.

We’re very disciplined with our message right now. We’re doing a great job in the last two or three quarters in that we have a consistent webinar program, like a consistent demo process, we try to tell a story that is about the market — not about ON24, and trust me, we screw up more than we get right — but it’s the fundamentals that, for us, are driving the results versus these shiny toys or objects.

Matt Heinz: Yeah, I completely agree. I had two companies not too long ago, this is late last year, you know, we were talking about their marketing program and got a call back from the head of marketing said, “Yeah, you know, the CEO took a look at your business and took a look at your website, and he’s decided you represent the more traditional marketers, and we really just want to hire a growth hacker that can come in and make some moves really quickly.” And I think we just got, we just disqualified each other, pretty much for this conversation.

Yeah, I mean, there’s some really interesting flashy things you can do — and even through channels like this. I mean, we’re a ON24 user, I think you can do some really exciting things on this platform multiple formats multiple channels. We record episodes of sales pipeline radio through ON24. It’s been an enabler of our strategy, right? The technology is not your strategy. You find tools that can help you get the things done that are going to build your pipeline that are going to build your business and we do some things on a pretty consistent basis. Like, we do sales pipeline radio every Thursday. We do certain types of content every certain days of the week. I’ve got a daily cadence of prospecting and networking that I do. It’s not flashy, but it works. So I think if you’re looking for “How do we stand out? How do we do something different? How do we break paradigms?” Like, paradigm-shifting is not the goal — having something that is different than everyone else is not the goal. Pipeline is the goal and I think that you got to put your focus in right place. Honestly, once you find something that is working — the growth hackers pivot to something else, what I want to do is build a process around that.

Maybe that processes is buying a system that can automate it. Maybe that process is simply having a checklist that we follow every day. When we do sales pipeline radio for ourselves we have a detailed checklist of how that gets executed, right? And even though we’ve done over a hundred episodes now, like, we all still use that checklist as a safeguard. Yeah, the book, if you haven’t read, “The Checklist Manifesto,” written by a surgeon — these super-smart people that still have a checklist for the mundane details. I mean, I have a daily to-do list for my networking and prospecting — it’s stuff I’ve done for years and I still use that checklist because it’s something I don’t have to remember, you know? It just becomes sort of muscle memory.

I’m the last person that is going to apologize for the mundane. If it’s stuff that can repeatedly scale-ably deliver results.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, there’s nothing overly exciting about repeatable — and it takes that kind of discipline to bring repeatable results.

So another thing that, for me, is kind of silly and funny, but I think marketers get caught up in the craze, which is something that is a core fundamental of great marketing and then becomes the next latest craze. You mention account-based marketing being that three years ago, and, by the way, out here in San Francisco, it’s it still is.

We just went to, I won’t say the vendor’s name, we will probably end up working with them, but we went to an ABM-specific event over at LinkedIn the other day. So, it’s in partnership with LinkedIn and this will solve all of our problems and, again, I, for targeted marketing, I think will look to add in some technology to help us scale what we’re doing, but account-based marketing is just great personalized marketing. And when I remember 15 years ago our CMO said we’re gonna hire someone to do this new thing it’s called account-based marketing and it was a little more manual 15 years ago, but, talk for a few moments about what is what is old becoming new and what is what is all becoming a craze.

Matt Heinz: Well, I think going back to some fundamentals, right? I think, if you, the better you understand your customer, the more effective you’re going to be as a seller. Whether you are in sales or are in marketing. And I think that, to me, that viewpoint in that perspective provides for the two really clear distinctions in my mind between the ABM we should be doing and what we traditionally been doing is marketing.

ABM is not, like, “Well, let’s get a list and start marking them.” ABM is not, “Well, let’s do direct mail.” To me, once we move past sort of the frothiness of hashtag ABM into sort of what residually [will] be part of our marketing. I think there’s two things. One is having better alignment between sales and marketing. I think if you’re going after enterprise deals, no longer is the divide in the pipeline horizontal in the middle where marketing owns the leads and sales owns the conversion. I think the divide is now vertical. You’ve got sales and marketing that own each stage together. And, so, to be coordinated in and how you manage the pipeline, but also coordinating the story that you’re telling to your prospect throughout the pipeline, I think, is important.

The other piece that is incredibly important — and I think most people miss in ABM — is the complexity of the internal buying committee. You know, CEB tells us that now, on average, six members of the buying committee exists. You’ve got almost seven people. And many talk to and enterprise sales are like, “Oh, it’s way more than seven!” You know, all these people that are inside the organization that have a vested interest what you’re selling or what you are enabling.

So, I think your job as a marketer, as a salesperson, as an organization, is to help those six-point-eight people build consensus amongst each other so that they can make a decision faster. So, it’s not just having six personas. It’s understanding the connective tissue between those people, some of it positive some of it negative some of it political. There’s all kinds of stuff that exists, but unless you can help navigate that map, unless you can help navigate that consensus building, you’re going to have a hard time getting deals done. And, so I think, and that is not necessarily a marketing activity, it’s not necessarily a campaign some of that is just good account mapping that’s enabling — in many cases, your sales organization to have the right conversations in maybe a non-scalable way, like the way you do that, for one account, may not work for another account. But if it helps get both of those deals closed, I will take the time to do that, right? Put another way, I think good account-based marketing in some organizations is a lot more sales enablement and a lot less demand gen. It’s getting into the deals and coming up with bespoke strategies from your organization that may include marketing, but may just be inviting people to dinner. Arming your sales team with the right conversations to have when you’ve got three key members of that buying committee on the phone to help them build that consensus.

If you can provide the messaging and the connective tissue to get that deal move forward, I don’t care if it’s a direct mail piece or a friggin tweet, or a set of bullet points you give your sales team — get the deal done. And so, I think that mentality, back to our whole comment about like who gets credit who did what? Like, you know, get in the war room together and figure out what’s going to take to make that customer successful and get them on board with you.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, you’re going back to fundamentals, right? I think what people are confusing in the sexy side of ABM is “Think about it, we’ll be able to deliver this targeted message to thousands of people.” Oh, guess what, that’s transparent. Like, that, in my opinion, that’s not going to work great. Account-based marketing, by definition, shouldn’t scale to several hundred or thousand people.

Matt Heinz: We if we’re doing that, we’re back to the marketing of more, right? And we’re back to the marketing group that just wants more leads more traffic more retweets — like more is not necessarily better. You know, you talk to the sales team, that says, “You gave me more leads, but this guy I got yesterday’s a dentist in South Carolina. How am I supposed to sell an Enterprise IT solution to the dentist that downloaded your content marketing white paper? I mean, that’s just not helpful. And now you’re upset that I didn’t follow up with them 16 times?”

Again, I wish that was a joke! These are real stories that exist in the field, and so that just doesn’t pass the sniff test and I think we are seeing in real time the changing of how, of what, B2B marketing is. It’s not about activity. It’s not about volume. It’s not about how big your budget is. It’s about doing what it takes creatively in your business in your industry, but with a level of predictability and scale that can give you that predictable pipeline that can give you the confidence that you’re going to be able to do it again next month next quarter next year.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean that brought us full circle. That gets back to what you said at the start about MQLs and getting in battles, right? If in the database that’s an MQL, it’s like, “Hey, you know, good luck selling to that dentist with two cats and a dog there —  we qualify them as an MQL.” How’s that relationship going to be? So, it’s about shared ownership on a singular goal.

So, Matt, listen, this is fantastic. You’ve got a pretty kick-ass book, which we have a couple of copies of here in the office, “Full Funnel Marketing.” Anyone listening, you can pick that up at HeinzMarketing.com in the resources section. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to grab.

And Matt, listen, and this was this was fantastic. Thanks for doing the first-ever episode of this with me.

Matt Heinz: The maiden voyage. This was fun, see, it’s conversational. It goes quickly. Hopefully, this gives people some value, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what’s coming up. I know you guys have a bunch of great guests and some great CMOS coming up in future episodes, so, uh, I will be listening.

Joe Hyland: Okay, that’s awesome listen. Thanks Matt, thanks everyone.

Matt Heinz: Thank you.

Driving B2B Empathy in Marketing: A Q&A with Forrester’s Laura Ramos

Empathy is a three syllable word carrying a lot of weight. Children are told to express it, parents are told to teach and well-rounded adults are expected be it. But what about in marketing? Is there a way for businesses to express B2B empathy and mean it?

Well, yes — and that’s the question Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, is answering as she goes through her keynote presentation at Webinar World 2018. The subject is a great match for the event. After all, marketers, especially B2B marketers, depend on creating and nurturing trust. The key to unlocking trust? Empathy.

I had the good fortune to ask Laura a few questions following her presentation. What follows is a brief Q&A, edited for clarity, brevity and context.

Q: So, you were talking earlier about how B2B buyers are approaching purchases like consumers, and you many singled out Caterpillar as an example of how business-to-business markers can approach that. Do You have any other examples along those lines?

LR: Oh, my goodness, let me see. Caterpillar — who else would we think about? I’m trying to remember my IoT examples. You know, it’s a lot of different areas.  One is, in particular, kind of similar to Caterpillar, is the big — and this is very B2B — jet engine companies. So, if you’re looking at what Rolls Royce, for example, [who is] is selling to Boeing and Airbus, the equipment now is so instrumented and has so much data coming off of it.  And they collect that data and help the airlines, or the fleet managers, understand exactly what’s happening with the airplanes. They’re moving in the direction of going from selling engines to selling airtime, or transportation miles or things like that, where they guarantee that the engines will be running or that they’ll be able to detect the issues with it that would require preventive maintenance or something like that.

And that’s similar to the capital or example in that, that’s kind of the same thing. They’re watching the equipment — or the data, not them — watches the equipment and says, “Hey, this looks like it’s going to be needing an oil change sooner or new need new built sooner,” or something like that than you expected.

Q: Is there any particular reason for this shift? [Well], maybe it’s been under the surface all along, but the shift from B2B to B2B but more consumer?

LR: It’s a combination of learned and native behaviors that are really driven by our consumer experiences. If you can decide in a moment that, you know, you want to pick up your phone go on to Amazon buy something — the ability to get information, to compare products, to understand what’s going on with this company, who should I be talking to there, all of those expectations are now carrying over to the business world.

The expectation of “Well, I should be able to get that information.” In many cases, they can, and they don’t need to talk to a salesperson or even go to your website to figure that out anymore.

Q: You mentioned that customer experience is becoming a bigger part of B2B marketing picture…

LR: Huge.

Q: Huge. Are there central tenants that we can point at and say “This is what … you need to build your customer experience on?

LR: Yeah, the central tenant is the customer life-cycle. In marketing, marketing and sales, we kind of built our processes, our thinking our campaigns, our go-to-market, around the idea of the funnel or the waterfall. The funnel and the waterfall aren’t dead, they’re just good like reference points for how you might run your internal processes.

If you’re really thinking about customers though, you’ve got to think about the life cycle, which starts when they’re discovering a problem, exploring different options, then they make their purchase decision. But then, from there, is kind of where they spend a majority of their lifetime — in using your products or services, making sure that they’re getting the maximum value out of that. You want that to happen, too. And then they engage — this is where they become loyal and advocates and start the whole process over again.

Q: Okay. What are the biggest hurdles B2B marketers should keep in mind when they’re approaching making a shift towards customer-centricity?

LR: Well, data is a big hurdle. So many of our internal systems are not connected and don’t use data properly. I mean, we’ve done studies where up to 60, 70 percent of internal data just sits — it’s not touched. So, getting a handle on that, and really connecting not only what you know about customers in marketing, but what’s in the sales systems? What’s in the service systems? What’s happening in your warranties — all of those areas that touch customers is essential. And then blending that with so much data that is available, on the outside, where do customers go? How do they “shop.” What are the signals that they’re putting out that says that they are in the market for solving a certain kind of problem? Most marketers really need some serious help getting all of that together. Because without that data, you don’t create the insight and the understanding and, ultimately, the empathy to better address the customers’ needs.

Q: Okay, you mentioned um the power of habits on stage. What sort of habits should organizations try to practice? And what sort of pitfalls in terms of adopting a more powerful like customer-centric habit should they be aware of?

LR:  Yeah, I talked on stage — and the research — talked a lot about the three habits, being human, helpful and handy. It’s surprising how much lack of humanity there is in B2B marketing and content. Last year, we did a study where we looked at 60 B2B websites and we looked at how engaging is the content. This isn’t about the experience on the website — it’s “If I’m a customer, am I going to be interested in what this company has to offer me in their web content?” And we look at websites because we can, and it’s representative of what the overall content strategy is — it’s not everything, I get that. But, in the 60 that we looked, at — we rated them on 15 different criteria, and passing score was 30 points and an excellent score was 45 — we didn’t find one that passed. In fact, we had to change the scoring — drop it down to 25 — in order to find six that passed. So, the biggest problem with that, with what we found, is just lack of human understanding of what those customers are about. Besides talk all about them — it doesn’t talk about the people or the problems that they’re trying to sell to

Q: Do you think there’s a fundamental reason why that is the case? Is there a top-down reason why there’s a lack of humanity or not communicating on a human level?

LR: I think that the lack of humanity stems from three things. One, it’s the idea that B2B buyers make rational decisions, and they don’t. And so, we need to not only talk to them about the facts, we need to talk to them about the outcomes, right? How is this going to make their lives better? It is, I think, a lot — particularly in technology — in the second point, driven by just enamourment of our products and services. You know, “We invented them. They’re our babies. They’re lovely. We want everybody to know about them.” And we lose track of the of the fact that people want to solve problems — they just don’t care what our technology features do. And I think the third area is just that marketers have been using a whole lot of technology recently that stands between them and the customers. They can go and do things to the website, do things to the demand generation campaigns and work at that interface level and lose track of, and not really see, the people that are behind it. You know, the people that that are the real customers.

Q: Is there a way for companies to do a self-assessment — of pulling back … and say “Okay, we have an issue here. Here’s how to identify that narrow down and fix it?”

LR: Yeah, in fact, … we have several assessments in the Forrester research that looks at it at the company level — what does it take to be customer obsessed — and also at the B2B marketing level. And, what are the things to know about customer experience? When it comes to customer experience, what we found in all of our research is there’re three things that really matter. It’s not only “is the customer experience easy?” Can I do what I need to do? But is it also effective? “Can I get the right things done that I’m trying to do?”  Do I have to go around circuitous route to get where I need to go? And then the last one is emotion. Does it really stand out? Does it delight me? And I think those are the kinds of things we have — you know, as simple as that as complicated as 21 questions or whatever that you have to answer to be able to help you do those kinds of self-assessment.

Q: What books you’re reading?

LR:  What am I reading? I’ve been reading a lot of Michael Connelly right now, believe it or not. I don’t know it’s an escapism thing. I just I think he’s a fabulous writer, too.

Q: Okay, cool. Anything else you’d like to add?

LR: Hmm. Let me think. Yeah, you know. I think it’s really easy for marketers to think, “Oh, we know our customers.” And so, we really do believe there’s a big difference between being customer aware and centered and being “obsessed.” So, obsessed is you’ve got to make the commitment to put resources and strategy and budget and effort behind creating that customer relationship, that empathy. And you’ve got to do that at the expense of other things that you’ve done previously. That’s, what we think, really separates the great marketers from those who will, you know, will do okay — or maybe even struggle —in the next 5-10 years.

A Confession: I Hate April Fools’ Day Marketing

It’s April Fools’ Day, and despite all the cute marketing campaigns timed to the manufactured holiday, I’m beginning to think the joke is on us. B2B marketing today suffers from a chronic disease that there’s a silver bullet technology holding the keys to more pipeline… but that’s just a total joke. And on a day that is all about BS, I’m declaring that it’s time for the BS to end.

You know what I’m talking about — all the jargon-ridden claims from martech vendors that sound really cool but don’t mean much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to the end of a web page, email or white paper and thought, “Wait, what does that company actually do, why should I care, and how will this technology actually live up to its promise?”

I think it’s time for marketers out there to come clean and stop continuing the hype. So, I’ve started a podcast, called CMO Confessions, featuring me and all the best, and honest, marketing minds I know to confess where we’ve blurred fact with fiction.

The goal is to give you a candid perspective from the B2B marketing leaders who craft and market the technologies and the methods promising to change the industry. They’ll discuss what they love and hate about marketing. They’ll confess to past marketing misdeeds and they’ll give you the insight to call bullshit on bad marketing. It’s a sorely needed reality check in an industry that likes to present everything in a shitty candy wrapper.

So who would sign up for this? Well, for our inaugural episodes, we have:

And, of course, yours truly as the host.  

What will it sound? Well, you can check out our first four episodes at this link.  

So, join us on Monday, April 9 — maybe during your morning commute or something — as we officially launch CMO Confessions. We’ll be updating this space with more information about our guests and how they’re fighting the good fight against bullshit and you can finally put an end to crap marketing.

And no, this isn’t another one of those April Fools’ Day jokes. This is happening.

Announcing the Webinar World 2018 Award Winners!

We hosted our annual conference, Webinar World, earlier this month. It was a huge success. We saw, heard and took notes on how folks use webinars to drive content, real engagement and more. We’ll share those stories in due time, but right now we wanted to give special attention to our Webinar World 2018 Award Winners.

Each winner went above and beyond in their respective category and deserve a hard-earned shout-out for their efforts. Without further ado, here are the 2018 winners:

Webinar Revolutionizer: 

Ben Prinster and Patrick McGinnis, Tableau

Tableau is revolutionizing what it means to webinar! They’ve gone far beyond the standard marketing event by partnering with all organizational stakeholders and scaling their program globally.The result: more than 850 kickass webinars in 2017 webinars for both lead generation and live training!

Congratulations Tableau!

Webinerd Groundbreaker: 

Cassandra Clark, NVIDIA

Our Webinerd Groundbreaker award goes to someone special. Someone who has stepped up to the challenge and re-define what webinars can do at their organization. This year, the team (of one) at NVIDIA has taken the grand prize! Armed with their intuition, NVIDIA’s webinar events have launched from 35 a year to more than 70! Those efforts have to be rewarded! NVIDIA’s webinar efforts for its GPU products in the medical imaging, AI and self-driving vehicle fields are seeing more than over 20k attendees total. Way to go!

Congrats NVIDIA!

Decision Accelerator: 

Hope Villaluna, Zendesk

Every marketer dreams of being a hero to their sales team. Well, the team over at Zendesk did exactly that.They accelerated deals and increased their win rate. In fact, webinars have become their highest win rate of any channel! Naturally, they ramped up their program to 12 webinars per-quarter, generating more than $1.5 million in pipeline with a 55 percent win rate.

Congratulations Zendesk!

Cold Call Eliminator: 

Lisa Hackbarth, OutSystems

It’s time to kill the cold call. Which is why, this year, we’re issuing The Cold Call Eliminator award to an organization that started a global demo series to jumpstart prospect calls and cut down on cold calling. This year’s award goes to OutSystems!

How did OutSystems win this award? They did the smart thing and partnered with their sales team on webinars. They’d invite attendees to the demo, with a sales team member ready to participate in a live Q&A at the end of the session. Always great to see teams using ON24 to build bridges between marketing and sales

Congrats OutSystems!

ABM Trailblazer:

Rory Tokunaaga, Demandbase

Account Based Marketing, or ABM, was one of the standout topics at Webinar World 2018. It’s only fitting that we bestow an award on a company that does ABM well. And that company is Demandbase!

How did they do it? Well, they lead the way by using ON24 for their ABM programs with targeted programs for specific audiences. The results have been phenomenal, with a 178 percent increase in opportunities.

Congrats Demandbase!

Customer Nurturer: 

Jeremy Collins, BrightEdge

Do you use webinars to get a pulse on your customers, and then use those insights in other marketing campaigns? BrightEdge does. In fact, they do it so well they took home our Customer Nurturer award!

After focusing their webinars content strategy around three core topics, BrightEdge was able to drive amazing results. A single year saw 10,000 hours of webinar engagement and a drastic increase in renewal rates.

Congrats BrightEdge!

Community Builder: 

James Gianotti, IBM Cloud

Marketers are great at building community. In fact, in many cases, that’s what we do! But one company stood out from the pack to take home our coveted Community Builder Award at Webinar World 2018. That company? IBM Cloud!

IBM cloud connected with its customers by deploying a smart use of polls, surveys and Q&A chats to deliver what its attendees want. This is especially effective for audiences, like developers, who can be hard to reach.

Congrats IBM Cloud!

Audience Captivator: 

Roger Castilho, S&P Global

It’s great when your company is the center of attention, but it’s even better when your company can captivate an audience for a long time. That’s why the winner of our Audience Captivator award had to beat industry benchmarks on engagement — and do so continuously. So big hat’s off to S&P Global for taking home the Audience Captivator award!

S&P Global took engagement to the next level by bringing in a mix of different and key industry speakers from to ensure each message shared is valuable for each and every attendee.

Congrats S&P Global!

Brand Evangelizer: 

Braeden Fair, Paycom

Webinars are a fantastic channel for your brand to show off its pizzaz, it’s charm, it’s flair! Which is why the winner of our Brand Evangelizer award had to be extremely crafty with their webinars! Paycom filled the bill by stylizing each webinar to match its story and all of its associated content. 

Congrats Paycom!

Story Broadcaster:

May Chang, Polycom

A good storyteller should get great recognition. But great storyteller can only become so when they get out of their comfort zone and experiment. And Polycom did just that!

Polycom discovered different ways to create new human interactions in their webinars. In fact, they used their own video conferencing technology to enable remote collaboration over their events. A neat trick worthy of an award! We can’t wait to see more customers give it a try too!

Congrats Polycom!

Content Re-generator:

Jocelyn Robertson, Financial Engines

One of the great things about webinars is that you can use and re-use content over and over and over without and deliver it to a new audience almost every time. Identifying and preparing content for reuse is a skill that takes practice. So, we figured it’s best to award those efforts with a nice award.

And who gets that award? Why Financial Engines does! Financial Engines takes home the Content Re-generator award for their astute ability to break down their hour-long presentations and break them down into bite-sized webinar bits. Their five-to-seven minute vignettes help their customers by delivering informational updates, incentivizing employees on Financial Wellness topics and more. That’s a great re-use of content!

Congrats Financial Engines!

Webinar Globalizer: 

Claudia JimenezThomson Reuters

Creating webinars with a global audience in mind isn’t the easiest task, but the pay off is always worth it because it’s such a powerful way to share your brand and scale your global presence. Doing it well deserves recognition. Which is why we’re saying congrats to Thomson Reuters for taking home the Webinar Globalizer award!

Thomson Reuters stood out from the crowd by crafting their webinars over unifying topics that global audiences can relate to. One, in particular, helped the organizations to cut across regions with a high-profile report.

Congrats Thomson Reuters!

Webinerd Leader: 

Nina Purro, Salesforce

We believe webinars are one of the best ways to engage. This can include team members. So how can you make sure your latest and greatest is out in front of your own team? Salesforce shows us the way.

Salesforce uses their internal communication tool, Salesforce Chatter, to announce and detail all new webinars. Simply by tagging the right groups, Salesforce can get their own internal teams to forward their webinars to other internal teams and get word of their webinar out across the globe. They even have an internal document that helps them to spread the word of their webinars and ensure everyone’s up-to-date on webinar events.

Congrats Salesforce!

Marketing Game-Changer:

The Hortonworks Team, Hortonworks

Finally, there’s the game-changer. The Marketing Game-Changer award, that is. For this award, a company has to put engagement at the core of their marketing program. And, boy, Hortonworks has done that.

From their internal promotion strategy to the analytics they collect, Hortonworks has made dramatic changes to their marketing campaigns by putting webinars at the center of an ongoing integrated program. And for that, they take him the Marketing Game-Changer award.

Congrats Hortonworks!