B2B Revenue Attribution: Known and Unknown Contacts in your CRM
Highlights from this Episode
Highlights from this episode
David McKie is the Vice President of Marketing Operations at Medidata Solutions and former VP of Marketing Operations for SAP. On the podcast today, David shares a number of insights on B2B revenue attribution and why it is important to not only pursue new customers but to also re-engage and pique the interest of existing customers. We also dig into the intricacies of how to know when to give credit to marketing if there is no direct tie to revenue. Lastly, David shares his thoughts on the changes anhod improvements he expects to see in the marketing operations landscape and what we can be doing within marketing to make sure that we drive accountability and performance across the organization.
Key Points from This Episode:
- Known and unknown contacts in your CRM
- Connecting marketing campaigns to products rather than leads.
- Closing the opportunity loop for physical marketing events.
- Approaching credit attribution: first touch, last touch, or weighted contribution.
- Expected changes for the marketing operations landscape over the next couple of years.
- Understanding the combination of automation and predictive intelligence.
- Why a culture of performance is absolutely imperative in marketing.
“One of the things that I would love to start seeing is putting more power in the hands of the sales teams to understand what’s happening across their accounts.” — @damckie [0:09:03.1]
“The reality is that we have so many different data silos of all these things the customers are doing.” — @damckie [0:09:30.1]
“Even though we can’t necessarily track all the way through to that final signature on the contract, there’s a lot that we can be doing within marketing to make sure that we drive accountability and performance across the organization.” — @damckie [0:14:34.1]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
David McKie — https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmckie/
David on Twitter — https://twitter.com/damckie
Medidata Solutions — https://www.mdsol.com/
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[0:00:33.9] DG: I’m here with David McKie. David is the Vice President of Marketing Operations at Medidata. Before that, he had worked for quite a while in SAP where he was also involved in marketing operations. Really, probably one of the early people in that area.
David, thank you so much for joining us today.
[0:00:52.1] DM: My pleasure.
[0:00:53.3] DG: If you would, tell the audience a little bit about what your company does, the problem it solves, the markets it serves, just to put everything into context that we’re going to talk about today.
[0:01:02.4] DM: Sure. So Medidata Solutions is a company that focuses on the life sciences industry and we have software and services, expertise and data that helps pharmaceutical, medical device and contract research organizations with conducting the clinical research necessary to bring new drugs to market. So that ranges from everything around trial feasibility and design, all the way to patient enrollment, data collection and gathering, file management and even to some of the more sophisticated capabilities around ingesting and analyzing genomic data as part of clinical research.
So it really runs the whole gamut of clinical research, and every time – It seems like every time a new quarter rolls around and we’ve just expanded our product line and we actually just recently did that with the acquisition of a company called Shift Analytics. So now we’re also getting into the commercial side of the life sciences business. So if you think about the whole process of drug research and conducting clinical trials, what happens once the FDA approves it?
Well now, it needs to go into market and it needs to become adopted by various positions and there’s a whole process around optimizing the market penetration. So Shift Analytics as they would describe it, they help pharmaceutical companies get to peak revenue faster by optimizing sales force, increasing awareness. There’re a lot of different pieces of the whole life sciences and treatment lifecycle that we now play in. So hopefully that’s an easy enough overview.
[0:02:45.8] DG: I’ve certainly seen this and I’m guessing a lot of people struggle with this is as well, which is you do campaigns and it’s not neat and tidy even though you might be tasked with bringing new logos in or whatever. What actually happens is you get lots of people that were already in your CRM system or your marketing automation system and sometimes, people will object and say, “Hey, we already know who those people are.”
What do you do with that situation in order to give some reasonable credit or if you do give credit to the marketing team and the campaign that sparked the interest?
[0:03:24.5] DM: Yeah, that’s a great question. That’s something we struggle with here at Medidata and primarily because it’s grown from being a one product shop to now a company that does—I think we’re up to about 23 different products that we sell. The challenge has been, “Well, this person is already in the system. Marketing is supposed to give us new contacts.” What we try to do is change the paradigm to say, “It’s not about driving contacts. It’s about driving interest.”
If a contact is somebody we already know is only buying our core product but then because of a webinar or an event or a dinner, they now have an interest in one of our secondary products or newer products, then we’ve actually uncovered something that the sales person may not have covered either because of bandwidth issues or because they just don’t yet know the product portfolio to a level of depth that allows them to have these conversations.
So it was a bit of a learning curve for us to be able to go back to the sales teams and get them bought into this idea that even if somebody already exists in our CRM system, they may only be working with us on one product and if they raise their hand again, we’re going to go through the process of qualifying them on that additional product. Then after we qualify, we’re going to hand it over to them, to the sales team as a net new opportunity.
Now, in order for us to put some controls and guidelines around that process, we had to make sure that the sales teams were comfortable that we weren’t just stuffing in things that didn’t make sense. So some of the things that we do is we try to look at when an account—we try to break it down by product. So rather than just get a lead, every campaign we create is associated with a product or a set of products.
So when a name comes into the system and if we already know that person and they’re already in the system, we go take a look at are they already—did they already buy this product or are they already in an active sales cycle with the salesperson on this product? We’ll look for either opportunities that we’ve closed for this product in the past or ones that are still active and open that the sales person is working.
If they’re already working it, we take it out of the process. We don’t go through and qualify it again. So we put those filters in place to reassure the sales teams that we’re interested in existing contacts an interest in products that they haven’t already bought and they’re not already in discussions with the sales team on. That’s a big part of how we go about doing it.
In addition, the other thing that we try to do, especially with a physical event, you get a lot of angst from the sales teams with automated processes because they just don’t want stuff coming through that doesn’t make sense. So we also try to make it a little more manual and have a little bit more intervention when it comes to a physical event and treat those different from how we might do a digital pipe activity.
So for a digital activity, where there is no direct interaction with that prospect, we’ll try to use more of the automated rules, where we’ll look at what I just mentioned. Do they have an existing opportunity? Have they already bought from us in the past? And we’ll filter it out. But with a physical event, especially where a salesperson is on site, one of the things that we are doing more heavily now is to close the loop after the event and talk to that sales person around what happened at the event.
We would expect that you qualify that person at the event. So we’re not going to run it through our standard lead process because it’s somewhat redundant if you’ve already have the conversation. So we try to work with the sales teams hand in hand for those physical events and strip out the people either that they know that there’s nothing going to come out of it or they’ve already decided that they’re going to move it forward and they had created their own opportunities.
So we bypass our traditional leads process, and we’ll tie directly to the opportunity that they’ve created and give credit to the physical event. That helps get the teams comfortable, the sales teams comfortable, that we can do all this attribution as it relates to existing accounts and existing contacts.
[0:08:00.8] DG: On that attribution front, are you more inclined to measure first touch, last touch, some sort of weighted average? How do you approach attribution?
[0:08:11.6] DM: It tends to be none of the above. Although, I guess it would be last touch. Last touch would be the closest, right? So the last touch that what would happen is, what I’d like to call it, and the way I explain it to people is, it’s not just a rope methodology. It is, “What sparked their interest? What got them interested to even have the conversation with us?” So often times, what ends up happening is it’s the last touch is the one that typically would get them interested in talking to us in more detail about possibly buying.
[0:08:46.0] DG: Very good. So as you look at the marketing operations landscape over the next couple of years, is there something that you see that is going to change or improve from the way that it’s being done now in the best companies?
[0:09:03.4] DM: One of the things that I would love to start seeing is putting more power in the hands of the sales teams to understand what’s happening across their accounts. So we have lots of different tools and systems that are reaching out and being used to touch customers and prospects. Some of them are reaching out. Some of them are more passive and recording when the customers are coming to us.
But the reality is that we have so many different data silos of all these things the customers are doing. Whether it’s the browsing our website, they’re going to a third-party site, they’re downloading content, they’re receiving emails, they are interacting on social media, they’re calling in to our support center, they’re recording phone calls or meetings in our CRM system or our call logging tools, or having physical events. All these different things are happening, and consistently what I hear from the sales teams is, “I don’t know what you guys are doing in marketing with my account. I don’t know.”
We don’t have a good way to surface all that, and it’s not just marketing, right? It’s customer service, customer support, anybody who could be touching those accounts. What I would love to see is an omni-channel view of all these interactions so that we can bring it together in one place. First would be bringing the data and normalizing it into a standard data model so that you can bring it all together. That would be step one. Step two would be how do you put a user-interface on top of it, visualizations, to make it intelligible? Because as you can probably realize today, if I go into a CRM system, I can go to the list of activities, but that is next to useless if you’re talking anything at scale, and it’s great if I’m looking for one specific activity. But if I want to get a sense for, “Well, what do these 500 activities over the past year and a half, what does all that mean?” I can’t figure that out, because I’ve got to go through each of those one by one and click down and come back up and click down and come back up. You’re not going to get that. So what kind of visualization tools can I get that will help me understand what’s happening at the account and build that intelligence for me? So that’s number two.
Then number three, what kind of automation can I build on that? So a combination of automation and predictive intelligence. Sometimes I think that people think predictive intelligence will be a panacea, and it definitely won’t, but it can help. If I can build some rules in place that start to show me customers or prospects or accounts are doing a lot of activity in this one area, maybe that’s an alarm bell that tells me a sales person should go make a visit and talk to them about it. You could do that proactively rather than having to go through the lead development team. That would give a lot of more control to the sales person to see the activity.
We talk about scoring to try to automate this, but if you could serve up all these information in a digestible way that to the salesperson and get them involved in the process, that would be really powerful to get them bought into all the different activities that we’re doing. Because right now they just don’t get it. They just see a mass of stuff, but they don’t understand.
[0:12:31.1] DG: Yeah. I’m guessing for a given account, there’s so much activity that it seems like it’d be overwhelming, or is that the case in your particular market?
[0:12:40.1] DM: Yeah, it can be. It can be overwhelming. I would say probably not as much for us. It’s not overwhelming in terms of the volume of data, but that’s also partly because we’re not aggregating at all. Today, we have activities that are logged in Salesforce. We’re going to start turning on an integration with a call tracking tool. We have integration with an email tool. We have Eloqua Profiler turned on, but that’s on a separate part of the contact profile. So that logs all the different emails that are sent from Eloqua, not necessarily the ones the rep is sending. It also tracks the webpages they’re visiting.
Again, it’s in disparate places. It’s at the contact level. It’s not necessarily at the account level. It doesn’t summarize in an intelligible way what’s happening, and we just don’t have a great way to surface what has happened. Never mind the question around “what are you planning to do?”, which is another age old one we get from sales, which is “I don’t know what you’re planning to do upcoming and how I can tap into it and take advantage of it”. That’s a whole other story.
[0:13:52.1] DG: David, thank you so much for your thoughts today. It’s been really fantastic. Is there any final thoughts that you have before we let you go?
[0:14:01.2] DM: My only final thoughts would be that while I am not necessarily a big proponent of marketing trying to tie ourselves directly to revenue— I think that that can be taken too far— I think there are going to be some markets where that does makes sense and some companies where it does make sense.
But regardless, whether marketing can have a direct tie to all the revenue that comes into the company, there are a lots of things that marketing can be doing and that we should be measuring and managing, too. I think a culture of performance is absolutely imperative. Even though we can’t necessarily track all the way through to that final signature on the contract, there’s a lot that we can be doing within marketing to make sure that we drive accountability and performance across the organization.
[0:14:48.3] DG: I couldn’t agree more. David McKie, thank you very much.
[0:14:52.6] DM: It’s been my pleasure, Dave. Thanks for having me.
[0:14:55.1] DG: You bet.[END OF INTERVIEW]
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