This interview was originally published by Martech Advisor
Every business, regardless of its size or target market, can profit from account-based marketing (ABM). We caught up with Tom O’Regan, CEO, Madison Logic, to understand how following an ABM framework helps align sales and marketing teams, encourages them to work together and represent the brand in a collaborative way.
Tom leads the initiatives to provide proprietary data, reach, and scale to identify, engage and convert prospective accounts at Madison Logic. From ups and downs in the market to the dot com crash and the subsequent maturation of online marketing, Tom’s expertise has grown with his experience. In conversation with MarTech Advisor, he reveals how best marketers can leverage the power of account-based marketing software.
Tom explains how a structured go-to-market strategy can help marketing teams automatically share personalized, targeted content for each stage of the funnel and accelerate the buyer’s journey.
Tom, to set the stage, tell us about your career path so far and about what your role in Madison Logic entails.
I started my career on Wall Street joining Deutsche Bank in the fixed income department. I thought that was a natural path as I studied finance in college. I quickly realized it was not going to be my career and I started spending my free time trading stocks using a site called TheStreet.com. One of my friends at an internet company, an early search engine called Excite, told me about his friend at TheStreet and an open position in sales. I went for an informational interview and they offered me a job.
I always wanted to get into sales, and I saw the dot com boom in 1999 as a great place to start. Getting into the ground floor of internet/online marketing gave me experience in every aspect of digital. I used my passion and knowledge of finance to sell into financial services companies and I quickly grew into sales leadership and ultimately ran the Digital Ad Business as part of the exec team for over a decade. I learned how to operate as a public company, do M&A, work with analysts, and run a business division.
That early experience and long-term role, with ups and downs in the market, the dot com crash and subsequent maturation of online marketing gave me the confidence and resilience to take on more challenges. After my stint at TheStreet, I joined a VC-backed startup which eventually sold. Then I was recruited by a friend who I worked with a TheStreet to lead ML.
When I joined ML there was another transformation happening in B2B, a shift to everything account based. We focused and were early in developing solutions for our clients that accelerated growth.
How much has account-based marketing (ABM) changed since Madison Logic’s inception?
Madison Logic has been engaging in account-based marketing for longer than the term has existed. For more than a decade, we’ve been focusing on what we used to call company targeting. ABM is not a new concept, but the terminology has evolved. These tactics have been a core part of every successful salesperson’s toolbox since the 90s. As new technology emerged and the ability to collect and share an incredible amount of data instantly became a regular thing, the usage of ABM grew. The focus changed from just closing the deal to aligning marketing and sales throughout the buyer’s journey.
“ABM is not a new concept, but the terminology has evolved. These tactics have been a core part of every successful salesperson’s toolbox since the 90s.”
Our first forays into ABM involved intent data and content syndication, but we’ve evolved as the industry has changed. Over time, sales and marketing techniques aligned and the overall concept of account-based marketing began to come together. At the end of the day we haven’t changed focus; close collaboration between marketing and sales to convert accounts and bring in revenue.
ABM revolutionized the sales and marketing process by putting marketing’s focus not just at the top of the funnel, but throughout it. Using Madison Logic and our integrations with Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, and Salesforce, marketers can automatically share the right content with the right person at the right time and that’s an incredible thing. With our product, they can now track the developments throughout the sales cycle and work with sales teams on ways to drive more revenue and better results across an organization. We’ve come a long way.
In what ways does ABM help to align marketing and sales?
Historically, marketing would generate leads, throw them over the fence to sales, and sales would follow up on those leads (or not). This process did not allow marketing to adequately measure the effects of lead generation and failed to follow buyers throughout both the marketing and sales funnel. With ABM, marketing works closely with sales to nurture leads more effectively through lead generation and nurture tactics. Marketing has a responsibility to make it easier for sales teams to connect with their leads, but it requires collaboration forced alignment, basically. ABM is the new frontier and the only way to run successful ABM programs is for marketing and sales teams to establish a collaborative approach through structure and alignment.
Sales and marketing need to represent the company together with one voice. Without feedback from sales, marketing can’t do its job. Sales can do their job a lot more efficiently and effectively with the marketing team’s help. This forced sales and marketing alignment is at the core of any successful ABM program.
“Sales and marketing need to represent the company together with one voice… This forced sales and marketing alignment is at the core of any successful ABM program.”
What are your top three tips for marketers to choose the right type of ABM software for their organization?
First, make sure you do plenty of research in the pre-contract stage. No matter how much you are sold on a technology or software, you need to make sure that it will integrate with your current tech stack. You also need to make sure that the tools you choose will fulfill the promises of the person that sold them to you. Otherwise, it will be difficult to prove the ROI of your shiny new tech toy. You can’t just purchase one tool and consider your ABM tech stack complete (yet!).
Second, look at coverage. If you’re a global company, you need to make sure that your ABM vendors can serve all the countries in which you do business, or you’ll end up needing several different tools and the headache that causes.
Third, compliance. Even if you’re not a global company, more and more states are bringing in regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act. No matter how small your marketing team is, you can’t skirt due diligence on compliance any more without putting your company at risk.
What framework can marketers use to set goals and analyze results in an ABM software?
First, we go back to sales and marketing alignment by setting pipeline and revenue goals based on company revenue goals. To determine marketing’s contributions to revenue, you need to track accounts throughout the pipeline.
Specific target accounts will also need goals throughout their journey, including measuring engagement per decision-maker on the buying committee, the total number of sales opportunities and account conversions, etc. In addition to these targeted goals, there are general goals for customer success. These mostly relate to the retention and growth of your current accounts. These could include how many accounts complete their journey at the same rate or increase their account value by purchasing more products.
Very broad goals include measuring traffic to your most important pages, conversion rates on those pages, engagement metrics for your emails, and more. These demonstrate the general effectiveness of your ABM marketing efforts. Analyzing and sharing these results will help the rest of your organization understand the contributions that ABM is making to the bottom line.
What are the thumb rules marketers must follow to make marketing efforts more efficient with ABM?
The first step to an efficient ABM program is to focus on identifying the right target account list, and that account list needs to come from combined sales and marketing efforts. Marketers need to focus on quality over quantity, and using intent data combined with firmographic, technographic, and other data will help winnow the list down to the best accounts. Once sales and marketing agree on the account list, marketers need to ensure that every single interaction that an account has with their brand is cohesive and connected, so there is no divide between the efforts of your sales and marketing teams. Without sales and marketing alignment, ABM falls apart like a house of cards.
What are the cutting-edge ABM solutions which will help marketers gain more success?
We have a few products that push the ABM envelope forward. Madison Logic’s Journey Acceleration™ helps marketers to reach every buyer in the committee with relevant content throughout the funnel. This helps to accelerate their journey (see what I did there?) through the funnel and generate ROI faster, all while keeping track of the important marketing touchpoints for attribution and improvement.
Our integrations are also an advantage in the market because they allow us to help marketers from all sorts of companies, no matter which CRM they are using. We’re already fully integrated with Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, and Salesforce.
How can marketers gear up for the new opportunities and challenges in account-based marketing?
The best way to “gear up” is to make sure you’ve got the right tech stack and the right team to handle it. Focus on finding the perfect balance of tech and knowledge so that your team is comfortable and confident in their abilities as ABM marketers. Anything else and it becomes difficult to take advantage of opportunities and conquer challenges when they inevitably show up. Prepare your team thoroughly before purchasing add-ons for the best results.
Could you share any predictions for this space for 2020 and beyond?
More companies will begin to see ABM as less of a “shiny new object” and more of an integral tool that they must invest in and focus their organization entirely around an account-based strategy. Marketers will see the need for ABM as a retention and expansion tool and not just account acquisition.
Integrations with the tools B2B organizations use to communicate between marketing and sales will be a requirement. AI and Machine learning will be leveraged in a variety of ways, including account selection, content personalization, and Journey Acceleration™.