1. Tell us about your role in 6sense?
As CMO of 6sense, I eat, breathe and sleep ABM.
We’re revolutionizing B2B sales and marketing with our approach, and my job is to create “a movement.” At 6sense, our vision, product, team, and customer advocates have to inspire a change in how B2B revenue teams market and sell.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Sales, accounting, and consulting are not your typical CMO background, but I’m not your typical CMO! I actually like to call myself a recovering saleswoman. I was in the software sales space before taking on a marketing role as the CMO of Appirio, so I’ve always used data to ensure marketing programs result in pipeline and deals, not just leads.
And since you tend to learn more from your failures, I think it’s worth mentioning I had a lackluster ABM pilot at Appirio. I didn’t have a clear enough ideal customer profile and I found creating personalized cross channel experiences way too arduous. Honestly, we did a lot of guessing about what accounts really cared about. We were just shooting in the dark to try to make something land. I had a huge A-ha moment when I saw 6sense. There was finally a platform to allow us to actually execute ABM at scale!
Now, we have our ideal customer profile and, more importantly, our in-market ICP (IICP). We know the best accounts to focus on right now. Simply, it’s a single platform to engage an entire buying team across ads, email, events, social, and real-time behavioral information telling us exactly what prospects really care about so we can create a message that resonates.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
AI and big data let us uncover critical insights about our buyers – like who they are, what they care about and where they are in their buying journey – then use those insights to create targeted outreach so we can deliver the right message to the right buyer at EXACTLY the right time.
Let me give you an example of how this played out in real life. The other day we executed competitive takeout “campaign” using 6sense:
- Selected the best accounts – The platform identified around 200 accounts that were currently using the competitor’s technology solution, or actively researching the competitor’s solution based on keyword search analysis.
- Know about them – 6sense also identified the buyer’s personas on the account along with additional keywords they were researching to provide us with more detail on what they cared about.
- Determined creative/content/budget – Based on the dark funnel intelligence uncovered by the platform, we ran a set of ads through an A/B test to determine the best message, content, tactics and channels.
- Engaged the right way – 6sense orchestrated the campaigns, making sure the ads got in front of key personas in the target accounts and automatically triggered BDR outreach when accounts reached decision stage.
- Collaborated with sales – 6sense kept our salespeople in the loop the entire time by updating the opportunity record right in our CRM, allowing our AEs to easily see which accounts were viewing the ads, visited our website and responded to BDR outreach.
- Tracked real stuff – 6sense tracked how much we spent, how we increased engagement, what open opportunities we influenced, and lo and behold, the new opportunity we created.
The outcome: In two days, and spending a total of $237, we were able to increase engagement, identity (or move) accounts to “in market,” influence opportunities, and even create one new one. We responded in a timely and agile way to changing market conditions and built all of our creative based on what our audience indicated they were interested in. And because we didn’t have to spend any resources arguing over which accounts to include, or really even over what our messaging should be, it allowed us to focus on our business objective, not making pivot tables.
To me, this is putting marketing back where it belongs – as close to the customer as possible.
4. How does orchestration help in making better marketing and sales strategies?
Orchestration is less about strategy and more about ensuring your strategy gets executed — and ultimately that customers are engaged appropriately.
Our challenge today is that applications focus on either insights or execution. Orchestration requires both. This is further compounded by the fact each function within the revenue team has their own suite of applications, none-of which operate seamlessly together. With disparate data, integration gaps, and lack of tight coordination between different teams, orchestration is more vision than reality.
In 6sense, orchestration is driven in part by what we call “SmartPlays.” A SmartPlay is one or more if/then statements used to build custom audiences and/or automate actions based on account activity across any channel, account/contact fit score, or attribute (firmographic, technographic, etc.). For example, when an account moves into the “awareness” buying stage, a SmartPlay can automatically trigger the purchase of associated contacts to round out the buying center, or trigger SDR outreach when an account is identified as in-market to buy.
Other examples include things like identifying accounts likely to churn (such as existing customers in-market again for a competitor’s product); setting up campaign triggers for deal progression drips; and automatically enabling digital media campaign activation to enable a surround strategy on accounts where the buying team is not fully engaged.
This may seem like a fancy term for a nurture track, but there are a few key differences. SmartPlays use AI to continually adjust the audience and tactic based on real-time buyer behavior from the “dark funnel,” and then orchestrate the action across the preferred channel (not just email).
Secondly, SmartPlays can be daisy chained together, allowing you to create incredibly sophisticated and personalized outreach based on real-time account activity, intent signals, and where the account is in the buying journey — all on a massive scale using AI.
6sense SmartPlays bring together the deep account insights and cross-channel execution capabilities needed to deliver true orchestration at scale and across your internal teams.
5. Can you explain how combining AI and big data enhances the efficiency of your platform?
To reach the promised land of ABM at scale, you’ll need more than a few automation tools stitched together to unlock the secrets of the dark funnel, prioritize for timing, and engage with buyers on their terms. This requires you to collect and analyze terabytes of data to understand prospect behavior at a scale that simply cannot be achieved without a robust Customer Data Platform (CDP), Machine Learning, and AI. It also means you need a way to orchestrate how, when, and where to use these buyer insights on a massive, yet individualized scale.
I know I gave you an example of how we executed a campaign leveraging an ABM platform (ours, obviously) because it’s important to practice what you preach, but let me take the 5 step ABM process I shared above and demonstrate how AI is the orchestrater.
Selects the best accounts – Based on real buyer intent and activity data that buyers are leaving behind as a digital footprint on the web. The AI scores that activity against not only the current ICP, but continually learns what behaviors are leading to new opportunities. The platform delivers insights into the account’s buying stage, who is on the buying team, and what they care about.
Knows about them – The platform captures prospect buying signals from the CRM and marketing automation systems, and digital footprint from across the B2B web, including search data, and research activity across trade publications, blogs, forums, etc.
Engages the right way – The platform is designed to orchestrate these insights using AI to ensure the right message is delivered to the right person at the right time on the right channel.
Collaborates with sales – The platform alerts sales to meaningful account activity, what marketing did to drive that activity, and how personas are engaging. As account status changes, personas engage and opportunities bubble up, sales is automatically notified and provided all of the details of what the revenue team has done collectively to progress the account in their buying journey.
An ABM platform integrates seamlessly with your CRM, marketing automation platform, and web personalization tools to ensure you have a single source of truth across the entire revenue team.
Tracks real stuff – Including budget, ROI, accounts reached, personas engaged, and pipeline created/influenced. Tracking and reporting on a common set of metrics for sales and marketing eliminates the traditional finger pointing and gets folks acting like one united revenue team. With an AI-based platform we can track new accounts that are “in market,” and meaningful metrics like engagement levels to understand which tactics are actually working to reach our targeted accounts.
6. We recently covered your news, about the launch of Account Based Retargeting feature, how will it benefit your clients?
Our Account Based Retargeting feature is just another way customers can connect the rich insights within a 6sense segment to any activation channel – allowing them to create smart, dynamic audiences in platforms like Google Ads and Display, and Video 360 by leveraging account, persona, behavior, dynamic segment, and predicted buying stage data straight from our platform. Not only can they increase bids for ideal targets, adjust calls-to-action and messaging based on buying stages; they also can eliminate spend on accounts that don’t meet their ideal customer profile, all while seeing an increase in valuable traffic.
7. What features of your Account Based Orchestration Platform make it a leader in the market?
The inherent issue with ABM, and specifically scaling ABM, is thousands of apps and features vs. true platforms. For ABM to scale it requires sales, marketing and customer success working in concert to engage customers on their terms. 6sense’s customers see superior results (increased pipeline, larger deals, faster cycle times) because they have taken a platform approach.
- Embedded CDP and 360-degree customer insight – across an account not a lead or contact.
- Proven leadership in uncovering anonymous activity – where the majority of activity transpires. Our company ID graph matches more accounts than any other provider so our customers never miss an account signal.
- End-to-end AI driven orchestration capabilities to optimize the ABM processes across sales, marketing, and customer success.
- Adaptive customer-led engagement across multiple channels (email, advertising, sales outreach, direct mail etc).
- Connected marketplace of execution applications customers can easily leverage for innovative engagement tactics (and those connections are dynamic, seamless, and controlled by AI orchestration).
- Robust analytics to show revenue teams where to focus activity and how previous activities have performed.
8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start-Ups?
Know your ICP, or better yet your IICP. ICP stands for ideal customer profile which is often confused with TAM (total addressable market). Your TAM is anyone who could be a potential customer. Your ICP, on the other hand, are the best customers FOR YOU right now.
ICP are the prospects and customers you want to focus the majority of your top-tier sales and marketing resources because they are the most likely to buy, most likely to be profitable, and most likely to be successful using your solution. With AI, Big Data and the right platform, anyone can define not just their ICP, but their IICP.
So what does the second I stand for? Let’s back up first: Looking at historical patterns using AI and Big Data, you can determine which accounts look like previous accounts and patterns where you’ve had success, as well as reveal the criteria you should be using to define your ICP. So, the second I stands for “In-Market.” Typically, we can’t see which accounts are in market or showing some kind of purchasing intent and behavior, because this activity is happening in the “dark funnel” where the majority of research is done anonymously. Being able to uncover your dark funnel, ID accounts and their buying stage is a new dimension giving you real commercial opportunity right now.
9. What is the “Digital Innovation” in sales technology, according to you, that will mark 2019?
In sales we have typically relied on customer engagement to prioritize which accounts are ready to buy, but in 2019 this method is no longer applicable.
Buyers who are in control of the information flow, pace and preferred channel of communication, often resistant to engage with sales until they have completed their own research and product comparison. This creates a “dark funnel” of all of the research activity and buying signals within an account, like anonymous web site visits, 3rd party research, and false form fills that go unseen.
However, with AI sales teams can actually uncover the dark funnel and use predictive analytics to ensure sales teams are concentrating resources on accounts with high buying propensity by leveraging AI-powered behavioral and fit scores for accounts, leads, and contacts. Ultimately, this gives you the power to give sales insight into the complete account buying journey, and to shine a light on why it’s time to engage.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Embrace it. Sounds simple, but even for a company that is based on an AI platform it’s easy to want to use old ways and not trust the AI. For us, we predict accounts “in-market” and we were not fully leveraging the prediction. When we went all in and always followed the prediction across marketing, BDRs, and sales we increased pipeline by 43%.
11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Today we have the concept of “SmartPlays,” which enable automated actions to be taken on account insights. For example, if an account moves to an “in market” buying stage, a 6sense SmartPlay can trigger SDR outreach.
Tomorrow, rather than using trigger-based workflows to automate actions, 6sense will leverage AI to determine next-best actions, channels, and content based on your historical data as well as current signals and engagement from target accounts. And best of all, our AI-based models will continually refine and improve themselves based on the outcome of the next-best decisions they make.
This will help ensure the ideal prospect engagement needed to advance and accelerate deal cycles – and enable sales and marketing teams to focus their resources on tasks with the greatest impact on the business, whether that’s developing a new piece of content or picking up the phone to call into an account.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
According to TOPO, BDRs/ SDRs are the most significant pipeline drivers in world-class companies. SDRs generate $415K in pipeline per month, on average, and 57% of overall pipeline. Further, TOPO says, SDRs are the most important channel for successful account based programs.
I’ve bought into this research. We see BDRs as a strategic imperative to our go-to-market function. In fact, in the last quarter alone we increased pipeline, per month, per BDR, by 47%. We’ve accomplished this by investing in our team development and hiring great leadership, holistically adopting an account based strategy, and using 6sense as the backbone of the program.
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- We use 6sense “in market” predictions to prioritize outbound, so there are no cold calls or emails. ONLY warm calls and emails.
- We use 6sense intent keywords to ensure our message resonates and adds value to our customers/ prospects.
- 6sense builds out the buying team personas and we map our cadences for top keywords and personas to ensure we appropriately engage the entire buying team.
Our BDRs generate 71% of our overall pipeline and bookings. They are, as a said before, a BFD for 6sense.
13. What movie inspires you the most?
Miracle on Ice. It embodies everything I believe in – setting a crazy audacious goal, coming together as a team and working harder than everyone, achieving the goal not for ourselves, but because it inspires something bigger.
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