Pam Didner on ABM and Sales Enablement
Highlights from this Episode
Highlights from this episode
Hosts: Dave Green & Olin Hyde
Guest(s): Pam Didner, enterprise B2B consultant and author
Topic: B2B Content Marketing
Subtopic: Account Based Marketing
Duration: 24 minutes
On today’s Scaling B2B show, we interview Pam Didner, an enterprise B2B consultant and author of TWO books: Global Content Marketing and Effective Sales Enablement. In this quick talk, she gives us insight into how successful enterprise B2B marketing executives approach account based marketing.
In addition, she also provides insight into how those executives approach making, and delivering content, that actually gets used by sales and credited towards closed/won deals.
[00:00:05] ANNOUNCER: Live from the city with the most perfect weather ever, San Diego, California, it’s The Scaling B2B Show. Here are your hosts, Olin Hyde and Dave Green, goofing off instead of working, while unlocking the mysteries of B2B revenue growth at scale. The Scaling B2B Show is brought to you by LeadCrunch, which creates B2B look-alike audiences and delivers full-funnel campaigns.
[00:00:37] DG: Today, we have the illustrious Pam Didner. Pam is the author of not one but two books. Effective Sales Enablement, which is a must-read for anybody out there doing content marketing or sales enablement, as well as another book earlier on how you scale content marketing globally. She was a content strategist at Intel and did event marketing before that and marketing ops. I think you actually started off at Accenture, Pam?
[00:01:15] PD: Yeah. I started, actually, at KPMG. I was in accounting a long time ago. I was on the dark side.
[00:01:24] DG: Well, you got that left and right brain going.
[00:01:27] PD: Actually, from there, I went to a darker side, which is marketing. Anyway, I’m kidding. Happy New Year, everybody.
[00:01:35] DG: Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us today. We have a lot of clients who do ABM campaigns, and I think getting your perspective and your take on how they might want to be thinking about content and sales enablement might be a good place to start.
[00:01:58] PD: Very good. Well, account-based marketing, obviously, if anybody is doing account-based marketing, most likely, they tend to be on the B2B side. That’s because the majority of the sales team is doing account-based sales or solution- or value-based selling. They have a specific account that they go after.
Obviously, naturally, if you have a specific account that salespeople are going after, it’s nice if, on the marketing side, they also can support the sales for the specific accounts they are going after. Hence, the name account-based marketing.
From my perspective, it really started as account-based selling. Then marketing, is doing their job to complement the account-based selling that the salespeople are doing, because our job is to complement the sales team. The first thing we need to do is to stay very, very close to them. Whatever they do on the account side of things, we need to make sure we’re aware of it and then we can think about, “All right. Based on a lot of existing marketing elements that we are using, what can we dial up and dial down creatively, especially in our accounts specifically, to actually support our sales team?”
Before I dive into detail in terms of what kind of account-based marketing tactics that we need to do, I want to make sure that all of us, whoever is listening, that we are on the same page in terms of what account-based marketing is and how from marketing’s perspective that we need to support that.
Once you understand the specific tactics the sales team are using, then you need to think about, “Okay, fine. They are really talking to these specific decision-makers or they are trying to wow them with a specific type of content or they are trying to set up a specific meeting, say, between the two CEOs.” Whatever they are doing, as a marketer, then you can think through, “Okay. What can I do to actually support that?”
From that perspective, you can craft what you think your plan should be to actually support that account. With that being said, from my perspective, whenever I talk to my clients or my customers, the premise of account-based marketing is marketers. You need to understand your accounts, especially the targeted account that the salespeople want you to support. You need to understand them very, very well. That’s the prerequisite.
Once you have that basic understanding of it, then you can determine what are the tactics and what outreach is needed to do that. Is that helpful?
[00:04:50] DG: It is. It is. You talked about the existing marketing assets that they already would have. Then you talked about dialing them up or something like that for a particular account. Can you unpack that a little bit?
[00:05:06] PD: A lot of time, the easiest way, to be honest with you, to support account-based marketing is through content, which is content marketing or leveraging the existing content that you have. Depending on the different sales stages that account is engaging with them, if a marketing team has done a great job, there is a wealth of content out there that a sales team can leverage.
With that being said, it’s very important to understand, “Okay. At certain sales stages, there’s a certain type of content that the sales team obviously will tap into to share as maybe a conversational opener or as a way to drive the next level of a conversation.” When I was thinking about leveraging the existing content that you have and map that to a different sales stage, that’s one way of taking your content and then map that to a specific account. That’s one.
The other one is if you know the account very, very well and you understand the type of content that the salespeople use, from time to time, to customize your existing content is another way to drive the account-based marketing.
When I am talking about bio of the content, it’s looking at existing content that you have, how that maps into a sales stage, and then work with your sales team to identify if there’s any additional content you can help them with. That’s one. The second thing is about existing content. Do you need to customize it? Do you need to personalize it for account-specific type of engagement?
[00:06:52] DG: Interesting. You said to sort of help them map the content to where the sales process is, and where they’re going on that journey. Do you have a particular kind of framework that you think about for that? How do you help them do that and understand what content goes where?
[00:07:16] PD: Great question. In fact, I’m doing a webinar on January 23rd. Sorry for a little shameless plug. I apologize, everyone. Anyway, I will be talking about five essential ways that a marketer can enable their sales team. One of the ways, if you will, is actually how to map the marketing content to sales stages.
There are specific things you need to do, and obviously, it’s probably going to be lame for you to talk about it, so I’m going to make it very high-level. In general, if you think about it, we have sales stages identified. The sales stages tend to be prospecting the potential new customers, qualifying them, doing a demo, and then you negotiate. Then, hopefully, you close the deal. In the next stage, you expand all the post-sales engagement. Let’s assume these are your high-level sales stages. It’s kind of important for marketers to understand those sales stages.
For me, for a marketer to do a great job supporting sales on account-based marketing, you have to understand how the salespeople sell. That’s the part I did not get when I was supporting sales for the first several years. I pushed the content to them the way I thought they should use it. At the end of the day, I did not understand the sales process and I did not understand why they were not using it. I was kind of a dumbass on my part.
When I say the mapping of the content is first, you need to know the sale stages of your sales team. I mean, each company is slightly different, but it’s very similar to what I just described to you. Then, for each sales stage, understand what types of questions that salespeople usually ask the potential customers. If you know what kind of questions they ask, you can source the content that you will need.
If they follow bent question—benefit, budget, and intent—if they have a specific question they ask, you understand that. Then you will be like, “You know what? This is the type of content they probably will need.” The important thing for the marketing people to map some or select the marketing content for the salespeople, first of all, understand the sales stages. The second thing is to understand the type of questions the salespeople ask. Once you have that information, you give your baseline and clues in terms of how to select the content that salespeople will need.
[00:10:04] DG: Fantastic.
[00:10:05] PD: Am I talking too much? I’ll shut up.
[00:10:07] OH: No. I think it’s wonderful. One of the things I think that’s really hard about enterprise sales is building consensus among the buying committee that’s going to make the decisions. A great enterprise salesperson really has that ability to find a way of building a consensus that’s easy for everybody to understand.
Back when I was doing enterprise sales, what drove me nuts is when the marketing person dropped in content that’s maybe two degrees off of what I’m trying to do and those two degrees off is the thing that’s wrong. Someone goes down this alleyway that you can’t bring them back. How do you think about building consensus with content? Do you use the word personalization? That’s a tricky term, because if you personalize with too many people, you’ll never build consensus, right?
[00:10:58] PD: Yes, I agree. You are talking about how to scale. You are totally right. If you personalize it, it’s very hard to scale. Marketers want to standardize as much as they can. Account-based marketing can be very, very hard or challenging for a marketer, because if you do personalize the type of content support for different account, it’s very hard to scale. I get it.
You need to find that hybrid model. You walk somewhere between the absolute standardization and also absolute personalization. You need to somehow find that balance. That’s hard to do. Every single company does that differently. If you are asking me for the Holy Grail or panacea type of answer, I don’t have it specifically for you, to be honest with you. The only thing—
[00:11:54] OH: What are the best practices that you? I’m sorry for interrupting, but what is the best practice? Are there three or four things that the great companies that do this really well all share in common?
[00:12:07] PD: Okay. Let me answer that question. This is one thing that majority of the companies are doing in terms of scaling their content. How do they usually scale their content yet standardize it? They tend to scale by persona, customers. They tend to scale by industry, verticals. They tend to scale by sales stages or customer journey.
If you think about it in terms of driving consensus of the content, can you define a high-level category or classification that you want to do first? The sales team always, based on my experience—and Olin, you can actually attest to this—when I support a sales team, they always want, in addition to personalization for their specific account, at the minimal level, they always want content by industries.
[00:13:12] OH: Yeah. I see that, because, by industry, we’re really talking about problem.
[00:13:17] PD: Problem, yeah.
[00:13:18] OH: Great salespeople sell the problem first and then the solution second.
[00:13:23] PD: Second. Yup.
[00:13:24] OH: Problems tend to quester by industry.
[00:13:29] PD: If that’s the case, how do we scale and at least personalize it? My recommendation to the company or even my clients is to identify specific categories that both the sales team and the marketing team can align. I start from there. Is that helpful?
[00:13:49] OH: Right. I think it’s very helpful.
[00:13:51] PD: That will be the first thing I would suggest they do. From there, to what level do you want to take it down, subject to discussion? Do you want to personalize down to like job title or even a little bit up? Just really focus on certain accounts? That’s really subject to discussion and also budget and resources.
[00:14:14] OH: Right. It also matters where they are in the sales cycle, if you’re near the bottom or near the close, of course, it’s worth a lot of effort. However, if you’re near the top, that’s where the scale really matters, if you’re at the top.
[00:14:25] PD: Exactly. You hit the core, my friend. You hit the core.
[00:14:31] OH: That’s good. I’ve gotten one thing right today.
[00:14:33] PD: Yay!
[00:14:38] DG: I was talking to somebody at Terminus a while back, saying, “Hey! What’s the targeting strategy for ABM?” It sounds like targeting in terms of getting that content in front of the right accounts is sometimes data-driven. It’s very scientific, but a lot of times, it’s people’s intuition. It’s kind of traditional firmographics, and there isn’t that level of effort, given the revenue potential of these large accounts, into really scrubbing that ABM list and making sure you’re going after the right companies and the right people in those companies. What’s your experience with that, Pam?
[00:15:26] PD: Now, you’re are majesting it, so I was like, “Okay. I’m ready to answer your question, Dave.” To scrub the list, personally, I want to be very transparent. I never really scrubbed the account-based list. For the account-based marketing I have done, the list has already been provided to me. A lot of time, that owner of that list is usually the sales team.
The sales team will look at the annual revenue and also their existing accounts or the new prospects they want to go after. They create a list at least for first and especially doing a planning session or the annual planning. Olin, you probably can attest to this as well. There’s a list of usually about the top 90 or 100. The list is long, and that they will look through. Then they will also talk about intent for each account. What are the potential billings or the revenue?
I don’t have a specific experience in terms of how that list is scrubbed, to be honest with you. The only thing is I usually get information from the sales team. It’s always a combination of looking into the revenue. The revenue tends to be the key factor from their perspective. There’s a lot of judgment and the subjective opinions that go into scrubbing that list.
Olin, would you agree? I mean, it doesn’t matter how much data we are using. There’s always a subjective call, and they’re coming from accounting given the experience of working with the different accounts, the experience with industry, and the final list. They maybe have data they use to come up with a list. On the final list that we have to go after, there’s always a judgment call. If you have additional point of view, too, that will be great.
[00:17:28] OH: Yeah. I think that’s exactly true.
[00:17:31] PD: Go ahead.
[00:17:32] OH: There are usually three really big problems. One is data sources are awful. If you ask for a B2B revenue data, you’re pretty much going to get a lie.
[00:17:44] PD: I know.
[00:17:44] OH: Secondly, targeting based on that data can result in inaccurate targeting, so then you get a list that’s, as you said, largely driven by opinion. Then you try to make it actionable based on your guesswork on opinion, and it makes the marketer’s job pretty hard to come up with content that’s going to work. That’s why I always like the approach of start with the problem.
In the case of ABM, I think the problem is the list, like Dave was saying. How do you scrub that list?
[00:18:16] PD: I agree. I agree.
[00:18:17] OH: We think the best way to do that is to put it through a look-alike model. That is a shameless plug for our own technology, but I think that what we’re seeing with our customers, what we call enhanced ABM, is we’re actually able to go and look at the ABM list, cluster it into groups. You can say this group has these things in common, and therefore we can build content to really address the specific problems of this group of customers.
For instance, one of our customers is a telecommunications technology company. The solution they provide to call centers is a lot different than the solution that they would provide to a sales team, for example.
[00:19:02] PD: Yup. At the end of the day, I have to say this though. Even with your technology and your platform leveraging artificial intelligence and to create that look-alike list, I mean, it still needs human opinions from time to time to kind of review the list and determine if the list is valid. Would you agree, I mean, to some extent? I mean, after all, the sales teams are the people who have the most experience with those accounts or industries.
[00:19:33] OH: I think if you get a good look-alike list, you’ll know why it’s a look-alike. Therefore, it’s up to the individual salesperson to really start to build the relationship. I really hope that artificial intelligence takes us back to more real people relationships. There’s too much dependence, in my opinion, on technology when, really, people buy from people, and those human relationships are so critical. You can’t do that with a machine. The machine can point you in the right direction and give you a good starting point for conversation. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get in front of somebody.
[00:20:07] PD: I do agree. Speaking of that, I do keynotes and talk about the digital marketing trends that you can’t ignore for the next five years. Obviously, one of them is AI. I always get this question like, “Do you think that AI is going to replace salespeople and marketing people?” No.
[00:20:26] OH: Never. Never. Never.
[00:20:28] PD: No. Well, maybe. Maybe one day.
[00:20:30] OH: That will never happen.
[00:20:31] PD: Maybe one day but not now. Next 10 years, I wouldn’t worry about it that much.
[00:20:40] OH: Look, I think it’s a very interesting question, because AI changes sales and marketing by changing how we start those relationships, how we build those relationships, and change does not mean replace, right?
[00:20:53] PD: I do agree. I think it’s enhance and complement. The way I see AI is actually to provide additional insights or help you to see certain kinds of patterns that you can’t see, or call out certain things that you can do better. Literally, it’s helping you to do your job better. That’s how I see the role of AI, which is no different than any other technology if you think about it.
[00:21:16] OH: Right. It’s cutting through the intellectual biases that we bring to everything which prevent us from seeing truth sometimes. It’s really a powerful tool if it’s used correctly. It’s really bad if it’s used incorrectly. If you’re trying to replace people with AI, that’s not a future I want to be a part of.
[00:21:36] PD: Nope. We’re on the same page. We’re on the same page.
[00:21:42] DG: Pam, this has been fantastic. Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap up our show today?
[00:21:50] PD: No. Again, if anybody is interested in B2B marketing or anything related to content marketing, sales enablement, and account-based marketing, I share quite a bit of my thoughts on my website, pamdidner.com. I’ve also launched a YouTube channel. I literally put myself out there and do a video, one new video every single week. If you’d like to watch the video to learn more about B2B marketing, check out my YouTube channel. That will be greatly appreciated.
[00:22:24] OH: Right. Also, check out Pam’s incredible book, Effective Sales Enablement. I’d like to call out pages. For those of you who are on YouTube watching this, on pages 206 and 207, there’s a great write-up on our co-founder, Sanjit Singh, for the really cool work we did early on in our history. Thank you, Pam, for doing that.
[00:22:45] PD: That’s the least I can do. I mean, the one chapter is really about AI, and so I was literally calling different companies and asking their opinions and also about their technology in terms of how they use AI. Then I reached out to LeadCrunch. By accident, somebody actually just said, “Hey! You should check out what they are doing on sales side. They use AI to actually help the company find look-alike audience and their customers. You should look into it.” That’s how we got connected.
[00:23:19] DG: Fantastic.
[00:23:19] OH: Well, thank you.
[00:23:21] DG: Well, listen. Pam, thank you so much for being on the show. For everybody out there, we always like to have you subscribe. You can do that on iTunes or any number of shows. Now, I’ll play that funky music. Thanks, everybody.
[00:23:40] PD: Okay. Thank you, everyone. Bye-bye.
[00:23:43] OH: Bye-bye.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:23:44] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for tuning in to The Scaling B2B Show by LeadCrunch. Olin and Dave think differently about B2B and are starting a movement to transform B2B sales and marketing. If you have ideas for topics or would like to be a guest, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to find more customers, visit our website to get in touch with one of our demand gen guides, leadcrunch.com.[END]