Hello again and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, a bi-weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that examines what real leadership looks like in organizations today.
This week we have Jaime Romero, the Global Head of Marketing and Customer Delivery at MRP. MRP, for those of you who don’t know, is a predictive account-based marketing solution crafted for enterprise organizations.
In this episode, Jaime and I discuss, obviously, ABM and the importance of targeted marketing today. We also go over the elements of internal alignment with sales, why companies need to focus on who they ought to reach and why enterprises are in such a difficult spot today. It’s a great episode that, honestly, could’ve gone on for hours. I hope you enjoy it.
As always, we provide an edited transcript for you to scan below.
Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.
Table of Contents:
Jaime Romero’s Take On What’s Cool and Unique About ABM
How To Align Sales And Marketing Around What Matters Most
Aligning Sales and Marketing On Execution
The Challenge Around Enterprise According To Jaime
Enormous Markets vs Targeted Markets
What Drives Jaime Romero Bonkers
Where Should Marketing’s Role Start and End with Experience?
Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week is Jaime Romero, a vice president of ABM and global head of marketing and delivery for MRP. Jaime, how are you doing?
Good, how are you? Thanks for having me.
JAIME ROMERO’S TAKE ON WHAT’S COOL AND UNIQUE ABOUT ABM
Yeah, I’m psyched that you’re on today. All right, let’s dig into something that I think most marketers are fascinated by and probably also sick of hearing that this is the newest, latest, greatest thing in marketing, which is account-based marketing.
So much of this is just good marketing, right? Delivering a pretty tailored specific message to your given audience, in this case, an account. But I, I’d love to hear from you on one, how you view ABM, what’s cool about it and maybe what’s unique about your approach.
Yeah, absolutely. So I agree with you 100%, ABM or account-based marketing is just marketing. You know, we’ve spoken to our analysts at Forrester, I’ve spoken to a dozen customers and prospects and they all say the same thing; account-based marketing is just good marketing. And you know, we think about, I talk to Kevin, our CEO often, he’s like, “MRP has been doing account-based marketing for 17 years. This is not a new thing.”
And when you think about it, you’re right we focus on our target account list or ideal customer profile and then you market against it using information that you have to align your messaging and your creative.
I think the big thing today though with account-based marketing and why it’s such a talked about topic is because of technology. And I think technology allows us to scale account-based marketing; AI and machine learning help us scale human decisions that we would make in a microcosm and really look at that at a broader scale, and make decisions faster, almost in real-time. And then I think what ABM does today, alongside the technology, is the sales and marketing alignment component of it.
I think the more advanced companies doing ABM today are going beyond just measuring MQLs and SQLs into a funnel and they’re thinking about holistically, here are the accounts that we’re looking to market to; what are the real metrics that we have to measure to measure the impact marketing and sales are having together?
HOW TO ALIGN SALES AND MARKETING AROUND WHAT MATTERS MOST
Yeah, well, first of all, I could talk for an hour on everything you just said. One, I think focus is a beautiful thing in life, but in business and work as well. So what I love about an account-specific approach for go to market is, is it allows sales and marketing to really align around what matters most and it works particularly well if you’re selling within the enterprise. And it’s interesting, I think, so that’s the first part.
The second part is if you don’t have like if sales and marketing aren’t looking at the same success metrics, they get in trouble and it happens so fast. And for me, this happens a lot around the MQL just because it’s a natural success metric for marketing to look at. And most heads of sales or sales reps couldn’t give two shits about an MQL.
It doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in a qualified name, they very much are. But if they’re having pipeline struggles and marketing says back to them, “Oh, we’re hitting our MQL targets,” I feel like a massive divide is about to occur and maybe you’ll never rebound from it. So how do you look at the success metrics for an ABM program? So it doesn’t become a, he said, she said, like, “I’m-doing-my-job-no-you’re-not” battle.
So I’ll say two things to that. Firstly, if sales and marketing are aligned on the accounts, you don’t send bad leads. Right? I’ve sent leads to marketing and admittedly so and yeah, sorry, I send leads to sales and they get back to me and say, “You know, these are terrible leads.” And I look at them and I’m like, “Hey, you know, some of these aren’t really terrible leads.”
But if I had an agreement with sales and like, here’s the thousand 5,000, 10,000 accounts that we all agree on, then any lead that comes in from that account is a good lead. But that’s where your measurements go. You don’t start, you stop measuring MQL’s at that point you start saying you measure engagement and activity.
Which, on a side note, you want to be careful with because I don’t want to go to my CEO and be like, hey, look at all these website visits we got and look at all these click-through rate that we got. And he’s going to be like, okay, thanks, let me start talking to the big boys now and then call sales back in the room.
So you’ve got to be careful. And that’s why, at MRP, we’re starting to think about things like how do we measure and report on pipeline and pipeline conversion in the context of your target account list. I think that’s really important.
And then back to your original point in terms of how we roll this out into sales orgs and how you get that alignment going. I could talk to two customer examples that we’ve had. Number one, in a bad way, there was a constant battle between sales and marketing in terms of taking credit for leads coming in. Marketing would send leads and sales would basically copy those leads over into the CRM as a new lead and take credit for them.
And it’d be this black hole of marketing pouring things over a fence and it just disappears. Sales is working them and they’re getting real value, but because they structured that organization in the context of who’s driving revenue sales or marketing it was not productive.
On the other side, another one of our clients, I love this case study because we generated $9 million of revenue for them. It was “I’m marketing, I’m sales, here are the accounts that we’re focused on.” I think it was 5,000 accounts that they both agreed on. They were accounts that had stalled in the pipeline and we put together a full end-to-end program to say “Here’s the activity we’re noticing from prolitics, here’s the insight that we’re getting and here’s the marketing activity that’s going to happen based on that insight.”
Marketing and sales are both aligned and agreed on the actions that were taken — and Forrester talks about this a lot, which is the buyer journey going from sales to marketing back to sales — back to marketing. So we integrated these automated sales touchpoints as part of the journey. And man, the two outcomes were, A, they generated $9 million in real revenue, and, B, a lot of accounts that they wanted to sell into closed out and they got rid of a ton of junk that was in their pipeline. So it really cleaned up the entire sales and marketing view of their accounts.
You said something really important there, is you added in sales touches as part of the flow, right? I see so many companies and organizations where they have these siloed approaches to ABM and to them means it hiring a whole bunch of SDRs and having them blitz away accounts and, oh, by the way, marketing is then doing something else that has absolutely nothing to do with what the SDR team is doing or the sales development team.
I’d love to get your take on how do you go about having that integrated approach. Because you’re right if you think about it from the target accounts side, if you actually walk a mile in their shoes, what a frustrating experience that is to have one part of an organization calling me up — it’s probably some 23-year-old kid who doesn’t have much experience — telling me why I need their solution. And then I’m getting all these emails from the marketing department about, probably pretty hopefully, a similar message. But it’s like, come on, get your act together, or like, what is the reason why I should listen to you guys when you can’t even align internally on how to communicate to me.
ALIGNING SALES AND MARKETING ON EXECUTION
So, there are a few things there. In terms of the sales and marketing alignment on the execution side, that’s really difficult. I’m not sure if anybody’s really figured that out yet. But I like to believe we do a good job of it with our customers. But, it’s the personalization layer I think is key there. I am marketed to as the head of marketing for MRP, from a lot of different companies and I see companies do it really well and I see companies do it really poorly. Email is an easy one to flag to be able to subscribe link in the bottom, but some companies, even with that, some companies do a really good job of understanding what my pain points are and really focusing the messaging around that. And then bringing it back to ABM, seeing the email and seeing a bunch of advertising online that aligned to that messaging, seeing some Linkedin messaging, downloads, getting a piece of direct mail, all of that stuff together, it really pushes it.
I think the key, and I’ll give a shout out to G2 Crowd, [which] really looked at my profile, looked at the stuff I was writing about, and then sent me direct mail that was hyper-relevant to where I was at that moment. And I was blown away by it and called her right away. And I was like, hey, you know, what’s going on? Or how can we work together? So I was really impressed with that.
Oh yeah, G2 Crowd is doing some cool things in their marketing. So it’s an interesting shout out.
THE CHALLENGE AROUND ENTERPRISE ACCORDING TO JAIME
Yeah, definitely shout out to G2 marketing, and their sales team, I’m really digging what they’re doing there. But, the other thing you talk about is, what we define as the challenges around the enterprise. We look at enterprise, and I don’t mean enterprise like $5 billion in revenue and above, I mean enterprise companies that have multiple product lines, that are trying to align, I mean, enterprise that you’re selling the same things. It’s a different geographies, right?
And you said it exactly right; you have these four or five different groups that are selling into the same account and it’s impossible for them to coordinate internally because they’re probably using different marketing automation platforms. They’re using different tools for everything. So there’s not a unified view of that account.
And I think what the scale of ABM today using tools like prolitics or anything else, but the power is that you can align that research. So for that one example, I told you about earlier with the $9 million, that was a pure, we had six, seven different groups targeting the same account. We use prolitics to say everyone, “Stop, you go first because we saw signals that’s saying they’re interested in what you have to sell and not everyone else. So you go first, we’re going to do our thing there. And once that’s done, then we’re going to turn your other guys on, right?”
And then we’re work[ing] down the chain and we’ll see which ones can work concurrently or not. But that’s the key. And I think it’s really important for enterprise companies to start seriously thinking about breaking down those silos and orchestrating marketing activities that align to an account’s needs at that point.
ENORMOUS MARKETS VS TARGETED MARKETS
Yeah, I think that’s well said, to your point earlier, executing on it is where the magic happens, right? But you’ve got to have the right strategy to start.
You referenced an ideal customer profile earlier and I’d love to get your take on having an enormous total addressable market. So, having hundreds of thousands of accounts that you can sell to versus being more targeted and saying, “No, no, no, like, you want to whittle that down and you want to have, you know, a strategy to the few not the many.”
So, I’ve come from both sides of the fence. When I was doing local marketing I worked for a software company, I ran marketing for them and they targeted small and medium-sized businesses as well as any business that has a local presence. So it was local marketing. So it’d be like Macy’s and they’d have, you know, hundreds of locations or thousands. And that was an environment where we had hundreds of thousands of total addressable market.
And then, here at MRP, our total addressable market — I don’t have a hard number — but I know it’s not hundreds of thousands. It’s larger marketing organizations using marketing automation and a more advanced view on marketing.
And I think the larger your ideal customer profile, I think the harder it is to implement an ABM strategy because especially because your sales cycles are probably a lot shorter. So you’re talking quick sales cycle length. So you’re really focused on either e-commerce or an inbound strategy that’s going to automate a lot of your sales or you have a really big sales force that’s doing this stuff locally.
Whereas in MRP side we have a smaller total addressable market than hundreds of thousands but we have a much more sophisticated sales cycle and rely heavily on content and thought leadership to educate our customers on how to roll out ABM strategies. More importantly, we work with them; we have a whole team of people who are assigned to our customers and basically talk to them, if not daily, once a week, at most.
Got It. I think it’s interesting and those are like totally different business challenges, right? I think it’s cool when you see companies that can theoretically sell to hundreds of thousands but when on the sales and marketing side, they choose to put more wood behind select arrows and there’s something alluring about having hundreds of thousands of companies you can sell to. But as a marketer it gets a little dangerous.
You know, it’s interesting. Sorry to interrupt there. I just read, not just read, but recently read Seth Godin’s book, “This is Marketing”, I think it was called, but he talked about smallest viable audience, minimum viable promotion or minimum viable audience. And he talked about, he had a great example about an election, where, you know, this person wanted to get elected in some town, I forget if it was mayor or congressman or something, but they started with, “Yeah, we have hundreds of thousands of residents that we need to market to, to win this election.”
But he’s like, “Well, hold on one second. You have, you know, you split that into two groups. You have the people who are never gonna vote for you and the people who already going to definitely vote for you. So take those out of the equation and then you keep whittling it down and they boil down to like, here’s 5,000 people we actually need to convince to vote for me, not the hundreds of thousands.”
And I was like, you know what, that’s a really great way to look at, you know, shift shaping your ideal customer profile or at least at least building out your target market. It was, I thought it was really relevant to what I was doing at the time.
That’s interesting. I think that’s a great analogy too. I think a lot of a lot of marketing is, can be found through looking at kind of political messaging strategies and you look at the electoral college at least here in the U.S. and it’s like, well, unfortunately, what happens is there’s like five states that end up mattering and to your point there, right? And it’s about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, you name it. I just think it can provide a level of clarity that can be lost when kind of anything is possible and you have an enormous addressable market. So, I like that minimal viable audience.
Yeah. And I’m doing things now with our targeting to try and to really think about what are the signals that are driving the right customers. Even looking at stock prices or their revenue for the last three years; if their revenue as an organization for the last three years is going down, are they more likely or less likely to renew?
So, starting to pull in all of this data because now you have this ability to pull in big data analytics and say, “You know what, here’s some signals that are really pointing to a win or a loss.” And even, “What are my hypotheses around the revenue growth or percentage of spend on marketing and whether or not we went in too high on a proposal.” And just kind guide sales around those kinds of data points.
That’s interesting too. Are there goals and challenges around revenue generation cost savings, right? So yeah, I think there’s a lot of strategies that can be deployed in a world where you’re not necessarily focusing on hundreds of thousands of people.
WHAT DRIVES JAIME ROMERO BONKERS
I’m curious to get your take on what drives you crazy about marketing today. You and I are both in the martech world for better or worse; what drives you bonkers? Like what do you see on a day-to-day basis and you say, “That makes no sense and I wish people would stop it.”?
I hate bad experiences. I mean really hate bad experiences. I hate when I go on a website and they’ve got a straight chat, everything is all nice and I start chatting and nobody shows up. I was like, “Hello?” Or it’s like 10 minutes later like, “Oh, did you need that?” Hell no, I needed it … I wanted to know right now, I’m a consumer at this point.
And you get these emails that are … I think, there’s no excuse for a poorly designed email today. I mean, every email platform has beautiful templates you can use. Yet I still see bad profiles, bad personalization, lowercase first name, no name at all. Just these little things that I feel like, at least for me, marketing should have figured out and there are enough tools out there to make sure that that stuff doesn’t happen anymore.
I think also as we move into consumerization of B2B marketing where you’re starting to expect a B2C experience. Like we as B2B marketers don’t have that latitude to make mistakes as we used to, right? Like, we just got to get so much better at the little details.
I totally agree with you. It’s interesting and if you see this explosion in martech over the last 10 years is it enables us to scale like never before, which is amazing, right? Like, it makes our jobs much easier. I think there’s tremendous gains have been made, unfortunately, it’s a bit of a quantity versus quality effect that we’ve seen. And you have things like what you just said, it’s a shitty experience for someone it just says “Hi Name, comma,” first name is lowercase because in marketing automation it’s lowercase, right?
I feel like the experience has suffered as we’ve just tried to scale like never before. And, one, that drives me crazy, but, two, I don’t know if there’s an end in sight on that. Unfortunately, I think that scale is pretty, pretty cost-effective. And it’s easy with a click of a button that you can reach millions of people and so how do marketers kind of focus a little more on experience and quality and less on scale.
Yeah, I mean, I do think it’ll get worse before it gets better, but I also think technology today is going to help it get better. In particular, a lot of AI implementation into a lot of these tools. Email platforms should recognize a name and be like, either stop, this is a name and it’s lowercase, just FYI or just fix it, like not even worry about it. Kind of like auto-correct on an email. I mean my email, my outlook fixes it, Gmail fixes it, I’m sure any email marketing platform can fix it.
I think AI is going to help with a lot of that scaling, and decisions that marketers do. But I agree. I think the problem will get worse, but I think companies will figure out how to fix it and I think they’ll fix it pretty quickly too. Cause I think some of this stuff is — the experiences are really important. And I think when you look at just even aligning messaging on different platforms and you have an ad that says one thing, an email that says another, direct mail that says another and then you have a completely different website.
I think those experiences are going to all start bringing it together and AI is going to help you do that. Because there’s no way I’m going to create like we have a thousand prospects I’m not gonna be able to create a thousand experiences. So the technology has to be able to do that for you.
Yeah. that’s a good point by the way, in the lower case, the first letter of a name; I’ve never even thought if within marketing automation whether it’s AI or just a simple formula for if you see Jaime with a lowercase “j” switch it to upper case. I’m going to look into that, I’m just curious.
Well, we’re going to all start emailing Pardot and Marketo and Eloqua and be like, hey guys.
WHERE SHOULD MARKETING’S ROLE START AND END WITH EXPERIENCE?
Exactly. That was either the most brilliant idea ever or people will mock us ’cause that’s been around for a decade and we’re too up in the sky with big ideas. I think you’re onto something with the experience. I think you’re right. I’m curious to get your take on how far that should go. Meaning, so a lot of marketers say, oh yeah, absolutely Jaime, love what you said. I agree. You know, we need to own experience on the front end, right? So advertising our email communications, whatever, everything to get a prospect or a potential customer to become a customer. But once they’re a customer, we’ve got other parts of the organization and they’ll handle that — we don’t need to worry about it. Do you see marketing stepping further and further into the customer experience side where today, of course, that’s handled by either some part of the sales team or the services organization, like where should marketing’s role start and end with experience?
Yeah. I think marketing ultimately will own all of that end-to-end. I mean, I forget the number off the top of my head, but it’s obviously significantly more cost-effective to keep a customer than to sell a new one. And I think if I had to, I think as marketing and sales get closer together, you start working towards a unified revenue goal.
You don’t see it today because I’ve got my budget and I’ve got to hit my MQL goal. But if marketing and sales are working towards the same goal, I can say, here’s my budget and you know, 30% of our revenue is going to come from these renewals, let me invest some money into that. Or even not just renewals but growth on your existing customers. Now I’m going to invest some of my money into that.
And that’s where I see frankly a lot of companies implementing these ABM pilots happening. Because we’re looking at companies coming to us and saying, “I’m going to implement ABM.” That’s a big ask if you want to restructure your entire marketing org, if you’re not set up for that. But, all right, well, where are the use cases? Right? Do you want to implement an ABM strategy around pipeline or stalled pipeline or are some reactivation campaign or existing customers?
We had a client that used us for existing customers. It was a year-long contract, big contracts too, multimillion-dollar deals and they would use our platform to monitor those accounts and see, you know, three, six months before renewal they started doing research on competitors. And that’s a signal we’re going to save that one because it’s way easier to save a million-dollar deal than it is to sell a new million dollar deal.
So I think more and more we’re going to start seeing marketers go into that and be much more involved just like we do with product, you know, years ago marketers started getting involved in product marketing and really understanding the power of selling features and getting customers on board in the right way. I think that’s just as important. I think definitely we’ll see more of that and more marketing investment in that.
Yeah, I agree with you. And I think it’s an exciting part of marketing and I think [if] you look at marketing 10 years ago versus now, so many more marketers and marketing orgs own either pipeline or at least have a seat at the table when it comes to revenue and the experience of your customers having marketing either again own that or have a major say in that it just speaks to how strategic marketing has become.
We’re no longer the “chotchkies make-it-look-pretty department,” right? Like this is when done right this is a strategic driver that can help an organization grow. And ultimately very much impact valuations. We recently kind of bumped into this data around retention information for our client base as it relates to engaging with our content. So are they into something we weren’t necessarily measuring? We were looking at how happy are the customers were, how often they were using our products, the right things.
But we ran a different cut of the data which viewed it through the lens of are they coming to our webinars, are they reading our white papers, are they coming to our conferences? And the numbers were astonishing. And in hindsight, it’s kind of obvious, but what we found is an engaged customer is a customer who sticks around for a really, really, really long time and it’s not necessarily about how they’re using our product. And I think it just, it speaks to the notion that you referred to earlier on in a marketer’s owning the entire experience and having a more holistic view.
And again, just bringing technology back into it, this is why we’re talking about ABM today — it’s that scale and we’re finding a lot of the same things because now we have all this data we can analyze. And we’re seeing the same thing you engage with certain content or certain marketing channels. The impact that has on your email click-through rates is 10x or your response rate on a direct mail program is five times higher because, you know, read this white paper. So I think those are really powerful and I guess you could have done it with excel a long time ago, but they didn’t. At the scale at least.
Exactly. It’s kind of like finding a needle in the haystack. Okay, listen, Jaime, this was fantastic. I again, appreciate you taking the time and coming on the show and thank you for your insights.
Absolutely, I appreciate you having me. And it’s good to connect with you in virtual person.
Yeah, we’re almost in person and we’re getting there. All right, thanks, man.
We will. All right.