CATEGORY

B2B Technologists

John Dering

Senior Director of ABM Technology and Strategy

John Dering of Demandbase is a marketer with over 15 years of rich technology experience. He and his team are using a combination of ABM and AI technology to improve sales effectiveness and pipeline generation rates by identifying and targeting accounts which are in-market.

By using real-time intent to identify accounts who are researching the space before they visit the company’s website to raise their hand, Dering and his team were able to increase pipeline generation rates by 157% over other approaches.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

One of my responsibilities at Demandbase is to drink our own champagne, which means testing the products we sell using our own marketing practice to demonstrate their impact on our business. Unfortunately, this often means hurting our business to prove the influence our technology has on our performance. Whether that’s discontinuing the use of a channel like display ads to demonstrate how important they are in B2B marketing, to investing in channels we normal wouldn’t to develop a true control test, to turning off some key insights for our sales team, I ultimately develop a model to showcase how different aspects of our ABM platform can be quantified to measure ROI. Fortunately, we have a strong funnel and an excellent sales team, so we end up hitting our goals and have a methodology to provide other marketers to learn how to build similar business cases to justify their ABM strategy and technology investments.

Here are a few more examples of performance results:

  • AI-powered account selection increased pipeline rates by 157%;
  • Account insights for sales increased pipeline rates by 217%;
  • Display ads increased pipeline rates by 45%; and
  • ABM strategy for SEM increased pipeline by 81%.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How has your whole team helped achieve results?

You hear so much about how the success of ABM relies heavily on sales and marketing alignment — and this is absolutely true. But what a lot of marketers don’t anticipate is that when marketers get a quota — like their sales counterparts — some of those competitive leaderboard behaviors begin to arise in the marketing department. The main difference is that the entire marketing team has the same territory! Naturally we all want to target as many of the companies on our target account list as possible to hit our numbers, but that’s not always an option.

We therefore have to work smarter to align all our campaigns and deliver the right offer to the right group of accounts and buying teams. This takes communication and planning — similar to agile marketing, but less focused on individual tasks or campaigns and more focused on creating a holistic experience for our target accounts. A great example of this was earlier in 2018, when we launched the “ABM is a Team Sport” campaign. Using examples from our own marketing practices, our various marketing teams came together to create a series of assets and events, both digital and live, to demonstrate how important alignment is on the marketing team. Beyond just the campaign owners, our technical team joined the effort to create opportunities to cross-promote every facet of the campaign to all the accounts, regardless of which channel the campaign was viewed on, which program the account responded to or which message the account received. This omni-channel approach guaranteed that we could engage more of our target accounts and deliver better sales opportunities to our SDRs & AEs.

Why do you think innovation is important in today’s B2B marketing landscape? Do you see a need for traditional approaches to be transformed?

I believe innovation is always important, but that it has to address a business challenge. As marketers, we shouldn’t confuse innovation with ‘shinny bright object’ syndrome. Just because something is new, doesn’t mean that it will improve our marketing performance. That also doesn’t mean we should outright reject new industry developments; but we should temper them and test their impact on our performance. Every day I see AI making dramatic impacts on account-based marketing from recommending the best accounts who have demonstrated interest in our solution to using it on our website to increase engagement by recommending the best content for the visitor. This doesn’t mean that we can’t build a target account list or create personalized web experiences without AI; rather, at a certain point the effort it takes a human to accomplish the same amount of work far exceeds what the machine can do instantly. It’s important to stay informed about new industry developments because as innovative approaches like AI become more mainstream, marketers will have to evaluate their adoption or risk falling behind the market.

Any fun facts/interesting personal notes you would share that other B2B peers may find interesting?

I’d love to tell you about my latest band or surf trip or off-road adventure — but most of that went by the wayside as I embarked on the most exciting adventure of my life about a year and a half ago. Now I spend my non-work hours engulfed in the amazing experience of rearing my little boy, Paxton. If you want some tips on how to change a diaper, in the pitch dark, half asleep — I’m your guy!

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Leizyl Tumulak

Digital Marketing Manager

Setting the technological background of a B2B organization is crucial to helping businesses scale and innovate. Leizyl Tumulak of Equifax Canada started with the implementation of the company’s core MAP and CRM platforms, as well as augmenting it with technology from Uberflip, Vidyard and Synthio. Rather than ‘setting and forgetting’ her system, Tumulak had the wisdom to invest in foundational elements like a database audit, database cleansing, preference management, email and landing page templates, lead scoring and CRM integration optimization.

The campaign connected Equifax sales and marketing like never before to deliver on a highly orchestrated system of customer engagement activity, informed by data and powered by technology. Over the last three years, this automation has generated over 3,200 MQLs, 625 closed deals and a total revenue of $5.8 million, according to the company.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

I am most proud of designing and implementing a MAP demand gen ecosystem for managing campaigns throughout the buyer journey, for managing leads from prospect to MQL stages, for managing a CASL compliant marketing database and for measuring marketing impact. The ecosystem has become the foundation for the way that marketing partners with sales. It helps us shrink the gaps between the two groups and helps marketing deliver the credible leads that the sales team needs. The ecosystem gives both teams shared visibility and we can track our contribution to the overall sales effort. It makes us more accountable in a good way.

For the marketing team specifically, the ecosystem provides a shared framework that allows us to allocate resources appropriately and work more efficiently and systematically. We have been able to migrate our marketing practice from “batch and blast” to a more one-to-one marketing approach. The ecosystem has enabled that evolution.

Not only are we leveraging technology and process with the eco-system, but we are also transforming the very human side of marketing and sales. With the ecosystem in place, people are feeling good about the way we collaborate. We can take a complex campaign (e.g. an event-based trade show, new-to-us customers, a new association partner) and develop a specific offer, deliver integrated inbound and outbound campaigns, generate leads, share content, prompt a sales conversation and capture data in Siebel. The process is shared and transparent: we can all see how our collective efforts deliver results.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How has your whole team helped achieve results?

We are curious. We are motivated and inspired to deliver the best possible experience to the customer. That is what truly drives us to be innovative. With that in mind, we have developed specific tools for ourselves to keep us innovating with the customers’ needs front and center. We have a campaign framework to help us think quickly and clearly about our marketing goals and tasks.

Recently, we put the focus on our digital game and stepped up our ability to deliver an online experience that we could all be proud of. We didn’t see our website as a content marketing tool or lead generation asset. In fact, it might have hindered our ability to do effective lead gen. Then we implemented Uberflip, a technology that enabled us to become true digital content marketers. With Uberflip, everyone on the marketing team builds their own content and manages content streams for their respective product portfolios. They quickly feel capable and enabled. They get metrics on their contribution — tangible evidence of their impact. In a way, the tool guides and mentors them to be successful, and enables us to be smarter and faster.

We’ve reduced the need for technical development resources by empowering our team to invent and deploy new campaigns — and innovate quickly in response to changing market demands. Internally, we have also implemented Clarizen collaboration software. It helps us build workflows with RACI assignments: everyone owns the lifecycle and workflow, end-to-end. The team is empowered. Our work is visible. Our impact is measurable.

Any fun facts/interesting personal notes you would share?

I’m a big fan of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and I have played in a co-ed slo-pitch league for 20 years. Our team, the LexisNexis Lions, has won the most championships in the league — six wins in the last seven years.

I think baseball speaks to my competitive spirit. I compete with myself and I love to pursue personal excellence within a team environment. For me, there are a lot of parallels between baseball and marketing. I am in it for the long haul. I love to “read” the opponent. I admire how one team puts together their line-up versus another. We all have strengths: mine are bunting and running. It’s strategic! Like marketing.

My other hobbies are cooking and Latin dancing. Like marketing for me, they are both creative outlets. Cooking in particular pushes my ingenuity and resourcefulness. I would love to be a contestant on the cooking show “Chopped.” I love the challenge of building an end-to-end food experience: appetizer + main + dessert. And the idea of being given surprise or unlikely ingredients and having to invent a meal with what you have been given is exciting to me. Use a sweet ingredient for an appetizer? I love the challenge of responding to the unexpected. And there is no room for error. If you forget the salt, it can make or break the experience. Like I said, it’s a lot like marketing!

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Scott Berns

Director of Marketing Operations

Scott Berns is well-known by his peers as an innovator for his use of AI in demand gen initiatives. An avid tester of new technology, from Conversica’s AI-powered sales assistant to Marketo’s beta projects, it is through this innovation that he has bridged the gap between data, technology and business to turn a Fortune 500 telecom’s marketing operations into a profit center. Continually seeking new ways to improve sales productivity and accelerate revenue growth by building predictable outcomes, Berns addressed the sales team’s challenge of spending too much time looking for prospect companies and up-to-date contact information, and not enough time selling. To address these problems, Berns implemented a third-party data solution — BuyerSignals from SaleScout.

As BuyerSignals became part of the sales execs’ daily process, the benefits became clear at every stage of the sales funnel. CenturyLink saw a 15% lead-to-opportunity improvement, a 21% close rate improvement, and an increase in average deal size of 30-40% across 13 major markets. The new solution and resulting processes generated millions in net-new revenue and a 680% ROI in one year. 

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

In the past several years, we have built a consolidated datamart that combines data from over 40 upstream internal systems to provide a 360 degree view of our customer base across the major interactions domains (marketing, pricing, sales, provisioning, revenue and usage, care/support and C-SAT/NPS).

From there, the team stood up a web server and built a front-end GUI with embedded PL SQL scripts for querying the datamart in real time. This web-based GUI is now iframed in our CRM and has become one of the primary research tools across our sales and support teams (e.g. we see over a 1k unique users with over 30k customer-based search queries each month).

We have also built out a summary layer (which we call TIP sheets), that proactively calls out opportunity areas to our front-line sales professionals based on data sciences / ML builds in the background. TIP sheets show things like churn propensity, next best opportunity (down to a customer location level), relationship scoring, engagement scoring (linking both offline and online interaction points) and the contract-based renewal portfolio.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How has your whole team helped achieve results?

A very important component of the process was to form focus groups and feedback loops directly with the end users to ensure that all use cases and requirements solve a need and carry action as a result. The connection to the end users is critical in any kind of a software development portfolio. Innovation that does not drive action and change management is a waste.

Are there any solution providers or partners that helped drive innovation?

We work with lot of technologies and partners. Two keys to success:

  1. Choose vendors that want to grow and innovate with you. If the relationship is based 100% on purchase of a piece of SaaS that you force fit everything into, it is probably not the right partner; and
  2. Work with people that are curious, smart, but also grounded in the realities of your business. If they don’t want to understand what you are solving for, they likely won’t deliver the features and enhancement that allow you to leap frog your competition.

What does the future have in store for your efforts? Anything interesting planned?

More integration of offline and online. A bigger push to leverage digital capability enhancements. Getting more predictive — through ML (learning) and AI (activation and deployment).

Any fun facts/interesting personal notes you would share that other B2B peers may find interesting?

Despite being a marketing and database guy — I love art. It’s important to have left brain, right brain coverage.

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