Over the last year, businesses have had more chaos to contend with than ever before. But with that sense of urgency and unpredictability in the market, a new sense of purpose and control has emerged for revenue teams. Marketing and sales coming together as a team may pose a challenge for many organizations, but if ever there was a time to unite over the buying journey and create predictable revenue, it’s now.
Enter Breakthrough, our two-day customer conference!
We’ve heard from so many of our customers about their groundbreaking, fun, surprising, bright light bulb moments from our virtual event and we wanted to share all that went on. So in case you missed it, in case you’re new to 6sense, or in case you just want to relive a little bit of the magic, let’s get into it.
Day 1: Data doesn’t lie
Though Breakthrough was virtual this year, the sense of community felt stronger and more connected. With our theme this year being uniting the revenue team, we focused on unity and alignment and getting ready to reach new heights in 2021. With Latané Conant, our Chief Market Officer, kicking things off in a truly #AMAZEBALLS fashion, here’s a recap of the powerhouse speakers we heard from on day 1 on the main stage:
Jason Zintak, 6sense CEO: 6sense and the State of the ABX Industry
It’s not the martech stack vs. the sales stack, JZ (as we call him at 6sense!) explained. “There needs to be one sheet of music for the entire revenue team.” That sheet of music is data, plain and simple.
“A great culture is hard to create but even harder to maintain,” he said, explaining that while change isn’t easy (especially through a pandemic), marketing can use their tools to drive an organization into a new frontier. The combination of orchestration, machine learning, and data is what drives experiences now.
Amar Doshi, SVP of Product & UX, 6sense: 6sense Product Roadmap
Amar set the stage with the notion that “account-based is a team sport” and walked through the ways in which we’re making our platform more self-serve (i.e., a better way to do orchestration) and detailed new releases (e.g., segment reporting, Drift integration, 6sense analytics for LI ads, and much more). He also highlighted our three focus themes for 2021:
- User experience: improve efficiency, ease of use, and intuitiveness.
- Proactive engagement: engage users at the right time with relevant info to drive action.
- Pervasiveness: enabled or integrated workflows everywhere.
Arturo Pena, Head of Marketing Global Campaigns, Martech & Analytics, Cognizant: Account Engagement at Enterprise Scale
We were thrilled to hear from Arturo, who spoke about how the pandemic has accelerated Cognizant’s digital transformation journey. He shared their move away from legacy IT, their shift from a North American focus to a global presence, and how the conversation has changed between marketing and the business (“the marketing org works with you”).
An important lesson learned for fellow 6sense customers that’s paid off for Cognizant: “We didn’t wait to have a full mastery of everything in our tech stack. We said let’s jump in, build a foundation, and pursue top use cases.”
Together, Adam and Peter discussed their experience at GAN Integrity creating compelling multi-channel experiences with the 6sense platform. They launched 6QA just back in November 2020.
The result? “Within one month of implementation, the BDRs had purchase and decision accounts on their dashboards.” As they explained, our platform does a “really great job of laying out the buying journey… being able to provide super-personalized experiences and tracking them.” They also detailed their focus on predictable revenue, advanced orchestration, and more in 2021 and beyond.
Biju Muduli, Global Demand Gen, Brightcove: The ABX Journey: Building for Today and Scaling for the Future
Account-based experience (ABX) is a journey, not a destination… and there’s a lot to see along the way. Biju spoke about building for today and scaling for the future, specifically where virtual events campaigns are concerned — accounts reached, pipeline influenced, bookings influenced. Focusing on those outcomes and tier 1 accounts (“We look at tier 1 accounts and tell our vendors we only want these types of leads”) has enabled Brightcove to set up for scalable success. He said, “I feel like 6sense team members are a part of my team as well.” Right back at you, Biju!
Sanjay Kini, Chief Customer Officer, 6sense: Amp Your ROI: Dojo Community Resources to Drive Your Success
No Breakthrough is complete without achievement awards! And who better to give out awards to our 6senseis than Sanjay? In his session “Amp Your ROI: Dojo Community Resources to Drive Your Success,” Sanjay spoke about the goals of our 6sensei program — to celebrate, congregate, and accelerate — and gave out the following customer awards:
- Innovation award: GAN Integrity (Adam Kaiser & Peter Lastowski)
- Display award: Cognizant (Arturo Pena, Scott Lawrence)
- Scale award: Tipalti (Peter Tarrant & Kathryn Dean)
- Acceleration award: PTC (Mariana Cogan & Saima Rashid)
- Adoption award: Brightcove (Biju Muduli)
- Account-based sales award: Windstream (Christina Linky, Penny Hill, & Marc Festervand)
To quote Sanjay: “We’re trying to create a movement here. We want to be successful by making you successful.” Congratulations to all of our 6senseis!
Hiring has been a particularly crucial and difficult area for many revenue teams over the last several months. Kate and Sam spoke about hiring trends, noting that March was scary, but things got moving again in April and beyond and “hiring has not stopped in sales and marketing for executive-level positions.” They discussed how the new customer marketing is really community marketing. As Kate said, “Community building is the new black.”
A couple of tips they gave for those looking to break through to bigger, better career moves:
- In order to build your revenue career, you need to get foundational skills in data.
- LinkedIn doesn’t generate credibility — actions do. Be helpful and thoughtful.
Day 2: Gearing up for the next normal
Hard to top all the learnings from day 1, but day 2 brought an amazing line-up, with actionable breakouts for marketing, sales, and revops; awards; an immersive virtual lounge; and a private concert featuring the Spazmatics, a killer cover band that specializes in ‘80s songs.
First, we started the day on the mainstage with Gary Survis (Operating Partner, Marketing COE, Insight Partners), who got us all thinking about the future of ABX in 2021 — with a look at trends, what to start doing, what to stop doing, and more.
As far as trends:
- Data is king. The companies that are making progress have actionable data.
- Convergence. How we’re seeing consolidation in the market with tools and platforms joining together in order to compete.
- Less account-based whiplash. There’s a positive change happening, with tools helping sales and marketing pull from the same playbook.
- Less piloting, more scaling. Tools specifically intended to help scale efforts are necessary.
- Tale of two cities. It’s feast or famine… depending on what industry you serve.
What to start doing in 2021:
- Test everything
- Know your audience (i.e., ideal customer profile, personas, etc.)
- Focus on what wins (i.e., which segments to double down on)
- Trust the power of in-market
What to stop doing in 2021:
- Simply pushing webinars — be strategic about them
- Assuming people understand ABX
- Using AI as a strategy; it’s a tool you have to leverage to enable good marketing
- Personalizing everything 1:1; it’s not scalable — look at segments and scale the message instead
Now for the breakouts! We split up to hear from leaders in sales, marketing, and revops over the course of two hours on day 2 (including time for speed networking within the three tracks, of course!). Let’s dig into our lessons learned.
As Jillian and Adam said, “Building a rocket ship revenue team is complicated. You need a team of people behind you.” They discussed the team structure involved in supporting an account-based strategy, campaign success, and walked us through these three foundations of success with 6sense:
- Targeting and segmentation: leverage internal data and marry it with 6sense intent data
- Personalization at scale: use 6sense to reach the right personas
- Sales alignment: expose sales to a more aligned go-to-market strategy
Our own Head of ABX (Courtney) and creative leader (MG) discussed the different ways of thinking and measures of success involved in shifting to an account-based strategy. They shared how our own marketing team uses segments and accounts insights to plan multi-tiered campaigns quarter over quarter; when it’s too soon, too late, and the exact right time (“the sweet spot”) to engage an account; as well as how they measure success with 6QAs and more.
Eric Wittlake, Senior Analyst, Marketing Practice, TOPO: Unpacking Account-Based Digital Ads
Having Eric in this breakout was a bit like having a crystal ball for marketers focused on digital advertising. “When it comes to attribution, it’s about providing lift,” he said. That’s why orchestration needs to tie to data, not just execution, and marketers need to know not just which accounts to focus on but specifically what messaging to provide. He also gave four specific reasons to use ads: driving engagement, creating meetings, progressing opportunities, and growing strategic customers.
Three key takeaways:
- Digital advertising is used across the entire customer lifecycle
- Selecting the right accounts, not just focusing on the right stage, is critical to creating business impact
- The real metric: is the business stronger with advertising?
Ernest Owusu, Sr. Director, Sales Development, 6sense: Building and Scaling Outbound Sales
Ernest spoke in detail about how he’s set up a team of BDRs for success during his tenure at 6sense (including a voluntary attrition rate of 0%!). His tips? Hire the best people, yes, but prepare them to do the job with strong onboarding and retain them with culture, a career path, and competitive compensation.
“One meeting is not enough,” he reminded all the sales senseis in the audience. “You need to meet with the entire buying team.”
The question is often “What’s in it for me?” Steven and Sanjay discussed how communicating value drives adoption across a sales team. In the case of 6sense, they said the idea is “We are doing this because it will give you incredible insights into your day-to-day efficiency and tell you where you should spend your time.” Modern prospecting is about leveraging the tools and assets that are available, they said, and the modern seller must be more technical and look at what’s new.
As Steven said, “6sense is the fish finder. This part of the ocean has all the fish — stop the boat and drop the line here.” Sales has always been about action, they explained, and now it’s about contextual action.
Becc Holland, CEO & Founder, Flip the Script: Crafting Killer Sales Outreach Strategies
Becc gave us an important lesson in messaging: “You can always tell the character of people when you don’t give them what they want.” That said, the most valuable real estate a sales rep has is the first line. Here are just a few of her tips:
- Have a system (i.e., a sales engagement tool like Outreach) where you can input research for a prospect and have it at the ready when you need it
- Define plays and which steps can be automated
- Create a shell sequence/cadence that incorporates your creativity
Kory Geyer, Sr. Director of Revenue Operations, 6sense: Building an Account-Based Pipeline Model
We’ve moved away from the old-fashioned marketing funnel, which worked when an individual person showed interest. But now, as Kory told us, the new account-based operating model is about capturing collective intent across all people at the account who are showing the right amount of intent. He walked us through the goal of getting your ideal customer profile (ICP) accounts showing intent inside Salesforce so that your sales team can work them at the right time, with the right message. A good reminder: “You need to remove human bias from account fit and engagement scoring.”
April Sage, Head of Strategic Marketing Operations, Virgin Pulse; Justin Noll, Sr. Director of Marketing, Demand Generation, ABM, Operations, PhenomPeople; Carly Wirkus, Senior Manager, Marketing Automation, JAMF: 6QA FTW: Aligning Sales and Marketing on Qualified Accounts
This all-star trio discussed 6QAs, MQLs, and predictable value. Simply put, you don’t have to throw out everything you learned from MQLs; you can still measure MQL performance against 6QAs — but clearly the most predictable value for sales is being driven from 6QAs. As they explained, the problem with so much data (too much data!) is that it can overwhelm sales teams. Their advice: ensure the BDR team is only looking at actionable insights for them and their target accounts for delivering the right message to the right account at the right time.
Great advice from April: “Create an intent heartbeat. Set up weekly meetings to answer questions. Know what signals work for you and what doesn’t.”
Together, Ashok and Mariana took us through key aspects of increasing efficiency and maximizing revenue without increased investing. They discussed understanding the buyer journey through fit score and intent stages. For instance, they said, display works well at the top of the funnel but less so at the bottom of the funnel or at the end of a quarter.
Marketing isn’t just about delivering value to customers but also about delivering value to the business. This starts when marketing can deliver strategic insights to increase TAM, enter new markets, and optimize ICP fit. The proof is in the wins. As Mariana said, “6QAs allowed us to close faster and not use our expensive sales resources to nurture accounts.”
The lounge, the Breakthrough Wall, and the Spazmatics!
We may have been physically far apart, but we found creative ways to get together with customers and teammates and show off our 6sense style in the process. Like our virtual lounge, where people connected and networked between sessions… plus, we had a photo booth! Not just any photo booth, but something more interactive for the virtual space, adding up to a super cool mosaic wall.
We closed out the second and final day of Breakthrough by recognizing our revenue rockstars (our customers!), giving final thoughts and well wishes for a great start to 2021, and of course, listening to the Spazmatics.
While we hope to be in person for Breakthrough 2021, one thing’s for sure: nothing can stop the momentum we’ve created and we’re so grateful to be able to share it with our customers for two days… and every day.