How to Optimize the Customer Experience for ABM
It’s a topic that is discussed quite intensively by B2B marketers: account-based marketing, or ABM. When done the right way, it will help both sales and marketers to ensure that targeted accounts are engaging and that the pipeline continues to grow, resulting in more revenue.
Join us as we chat with B2B marketing expert Cristina Daroca (Head of Americas Marketing, Riverbed Technology) about how to optimize the experience for customers and prospects for ABM. During our discussion, Cristina talked about why ABM is not going anywhere anytime soon, the importance of conducting customer research, and what pitfalls to avoid. She also provides actionable tips that B2B marketers can take and what key metrics they should focus on in ABM.
Topics discussed in episode
Companies and links mentioned
Cristina Daroca, Christian Klepp
Christian Klepp 00:03
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for changemakers where we question the conventional, debunk marketing myths, provide actionable tips, think differently, disrupt industries, and take your marketing to a new level, from improving your campaigns to making you a better marketer. These are the inspirational stories that will help us change the way we think and approach B2B marketing, one conversation at a time. This podcast is brought to you by EINBLICK Consulting, helping you to stand out in the market and drive revenue to your B2B business. And now your host, Christian Klepp.
Okay, welcome, everyone to this episode of B2B Marketers on a Mission. This is the show where we help you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry and take your marketing to new heights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I’m joined by someone on a mission to build and develop winning marketing teams. So coming to us from Boston, Massachusetts, señora Cristina Rocca, buenas tardes y bienvenidos!
Cristina Daroca 01:11
Muchas gracias. Hi, everyone, thanks for having me.
Christian Klepp 01:14
It’s definitely, probably one of my New Year’s resolutions, improve your Spanish. Cristina, it’s great to have you on the show. And you have the honor of being my last interview for 2023. Let’s get started. Because wow this is going to be, I’m sure it’s gonna be an exciting conversation. You have quite a diverse background. I think that’s the understatement of the year. Right? In the field of marketing. You’re also… I recently noticed this that you are one of LinkedIn’s top B2B marketing strategy voices. So congrats by the way. One of the disciplines that you’re undoubtedly passionate about, and why I say undoubtedly is because you write about it a lot on LinkedIn. It’s on the topic of Account Based Marketing or ABM. So for this conversation, let’s focus on a topic that has clearly become a part of your professional vision. Right. So B2B Marketers on a Mission. So if this is your mission, how to optimize the experience for customers, or prospects, or ABM. So let’s kick off the conversation with this question. Okay, here we go. There’s so many people on platforms like LinkedIn, talking about ABM, and there’s several camps and one of those camps is saying that ABM is dead and dying and it’s going away. And there’s the other camp, which I think you belong to who’s saying, ABM is not going anywhere. So why do you believe that ABM is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Cristina Daroca 02:54
I don’t think it’s going anywhere because ABM is really about marketing and selling better and being more relevant for both of your customers and your prospects. And like you said to, you know, make sure that you’re optimizing that experience. So call that ABM or call it whatever, you know, the next buzzword will come here, I’m sure and we’ll call it a different thing. But to me, ABM is what good sellers have always been doing, right. If you speak with any anyone in the sales profession who has been successful, they will tell you that the main thing you have to do is understand your customers, build that relationship with them, build trust, treat them like humans, because they are humans, and you know, ultimately you do get the deal. So that’s really what ABM is for me, really, you know, it’s just helping that process for our sellers. So I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.
Christian Klepp 03:48
Why do you think there’s this camp that is completely like dismissing ABM? Like why is this… Why are there so many people on LinkedIn saying that it’s dead and dying? And it’s passe or it’s becoming obsolete? Like why do you feel that there’s a camp that exists that strongly believes that?
Cristina Daroca 04:07
Yeah, I think that ABM has been flooded with tools. And a lot of people think of ABM as synonymous for a bunch of different tools. And that, to me, is not what ABM is but I think that’s what’s going away that you know, just like the over rotation on tools, and just getting more and more tools to measure every single thing you’re doing to get more data that you end up not using because you don’t have the resources to use it, to gain more you know, more things in your tech stack. I think that’s going away. I do believe that we’re going to go towards a world where we have fewer tools, but just really the the main ones that we need to again, understand our customers, figure out where they hang out, figure out where we can, you know, educate them or help them through their journey and finally, you know, hopefully get that deal. So if you think that ABM is a bunch of tools that you need to do this, then yeah, that’s going away. Because we don’t have the money to do that. Money is not free. And it’s, you know, it’s costing more and more money. So I think we are going towards a world where we’re going to have fewer tools buy we’re going to do this in a much more efficient way.
Christian Klepp 05:20
So you could perhaps say that it’s a kind of disruption, with a hopefully more positive outcome, right? Because I think if I understood what you’ve been saying, in the past couple of minutes correctly, a lot of companies have been to use the word seduced by technology, right? Because everybody is chasing the next. I wouldn’t even say it’s a hack, but it’s the they’re trying to chase the next shortcut. They’re trying to like, I mean, perhaps a big part of why companies are investing in these tech stacks and getting these tools. It’s because they want to work faster, and they want to work more efficiently. But then underneath the surface, they’re chasing a shortcut is what it seems like, right?
Cristina Daroca 06:04
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it also goes back to trying to boil the ocean, I think a lot of people are thinking like, Oh, we’re gonna do ABM to you know, every single account out there. And that’s not ABM, that’s not, you know, you’re not doing account based anything if you’re doing it to every single account under the sun. And that’s where these tools really, you know, try to, I want to say lie to us, but you know, like you said seduce us, right, and saying like, Oh, we can help you do it to the masses, right. And we can help you scale this, when ABM, by definition is not, it’s not something that you can just scale to every single account out there. It has to be very targeted, it has to be very intentional. And you have to be making sure that you know what accounts you’re going after, you understand those customers, and you’re optimizing the experience for them. But it’s just not possible to do for every single account out there.
Christian Klepp 06:59
Absolutely, absolutely. And that was an excellent segue into the next question, which I’m sure you will have no problem answering. It’s about common mistakes and misconceptions, but specifically around ABM, around improving the experience for customers and prospects. So what are some of the top mistakes you’ve seen out there that marketers have made? And what should they do to address them?
Cristina Daroca 07:23
Yeah, I think the main mistake we make and I say we, because I’ve made it in the past. So, it’s losing sight of that relevancy that we’re talking about. So ABM is really about being relevant to your customers, understand them, know what they need, know what they’re going through. And then, you know, use your content and your tools to help them educate themselves. And, you know, ultimately, hopefully, speak with you and you know, and buy your product. But if you lose that relevancy, if you try to do ABM again to the masses, you know, sending the same message to everyone, then that’s where you…. ABM just doesn’t work. And it’s not it’s not efficient. So I’ve done that before, too, trying to do too many accounts and trying to be too generic. Because, you know, you can’t be relevant to every single account. And I think that is, that is a very big mistake.
Cristina Daroca 08:15
And then internally, I think there’s also something that again, we’ve all done before, which is go to your sales team and say, Hey, guys, we’re gonna do ABM, it’s gonna be great, we’re gonna get so many opportunities for you. And this is going to be you know, the panacea to everything. And you have an event, build your list, you haven’t done your research, you haven’t even you know, like, build your program and or your strategy. And your sales team is already, you know, thinking that they’re gonna have these opportunities tomorrow. And, you know, sales people tend to be very short sighted and they’re just looking for things, you know, right away. And that’s not how ABM works, ABM takes a lot of time. So my recommendation there is to not say it like that. Don’t go to your sales team and say, Hey, we’re gonna do ABM, start building your programs, start sharing, because you do have to share and align with them. But just share as in, hey, this is how we’re going to do marketing going forward. We’re going to help you with your accounts. Can we work together on what accounts you’re working on? Can we start to figure out the messaging for these accounts and start building it like that. Instead of just saying, you know, we’re gonna do this new thing, and it’s gonna be awesome, and you’re gonna get all these results from it, because it takes a lot of time, for ABM, to really have those results. So that internal education is super important too.
Christian Klepp 09:33
Absolutely, absolutely. Great points. I mean, going back to your first point, sending the same message to everyone. I believe that that’s the spray and pray approach, hoping that something comes back, right. And then the second one is going to your sales team and essentially giving them false hope.
Cristina Daroca 09:52
Christian Klepp 09:53
And run this ABM campaign and then it’s going to lead to this, I call it the revolving door of leads, right which we all know it’s not going to happen. But I did have one follow up question for you Cristina. How do you… And I’m sure you’ve dealt with this in the past, like, for instance, that second scenario where you go to the salespeople, and you talk to them about ABM, and what have you, and that you’re going to implement this campaign, and you’d like to get them involved, because clearly, there needs to be some kind of collaboration between the two departments. How do you feel with pushback? Right? Like, say, for instance, maybe they don’t know what ABM is? Or if they do, they don’t think that it works? And they, they are not on board with that at all. Right? How do you deal with that?
Cristina Daroca 10:43
Yeah, and I’ve had a lot of pushback from, especially from the sales team, because they’ve heard this, you know, a lot of times, and they’ve heard it a lot of companies and it hasn’t worked. And so it’s normal, they’re skeptical, and you know, they just want to do their work and, and hopefully close more deals. So yeah, the way I deal with it is, again, first of all, not going to them and saying, Hey, we’re gonna do ABM and it’s gonna be great, because then yeah, you’re losing your credibility right there. It’s really about start building your program. Have a program in place and a strategy in place that you have thought through, and work with them to make sure that you’re aligned in terms of what accounts you want to target, what message you should be putting out there. And then usually, what I try to do if you have the option is select two or three reps that really have worked with you in the past or that you know personally, or you know, that you know can be allies, and work with them first and get it with them first, get their buy in, get, you know, help them first. And then once they have seen success, and they, you know, they understand the program, they are the ones who then go to others and say, oh, yeah, they’re you know, marketing is helping me with this thing and that thing, and then you can start to show results to others and sell quote, unquote, sell it with results, rather than, you know, going to your entire salesforce and saying, we’re going to do this for all of you, we’re going to help you all because we all know reps are different, some of them work in different ways. And you really have to select who can be successful with this and start there so that you can then you know, increase the program to the rest.
Christian Klepp 12:19
Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. When it comes to working together, because I totally agree you should. You should have or nurture that relationship with those particular like those specific like salespeople, and test that out with them and get their buy in so that they can also in turn become your advocates internally. But in your experience, when you say work together with specific number of reps, are you talking about, like more senior salespeople or the mid level? Or are they across different levels of like, in terms of seniority?
Cristina Daroca 12:53
Yeah, it really depends on your org structure. And you know, how your sales team is organized, I would say as long as the rep is open to working with marketing, and you know, we all know some reps are very open, and they’ve worked with us before, and they trust us and others are not. And that’s fine, right? We all have our own personality. So as long as they are open to working with you, I wouldn’t mind if it’s, you know, a more senior seller or a more junior seller, the only thing I would say is make sure you’re picking someone who has accounts where you can have an impact. So if you’re selling a very transactional product, and there’s some sellers who are doing, you know, sales over the phone, for example, it might be harder for you to have an impact there because it might be a faster sale, and you don’t have that much to do. So, you know, I would try to go for accounts that are going to take longer that you know where you can actually have a good account plan and you can really have an impact so that you can then show those results to the rest of the company. But it doesn’t really matter the seniority of the person, it’s really about, are they willing to work with you or not.
Christian Klepp 14:01
Moving on to the next question. You’ve talked about this a while ago, and I think we, you know, we should jam on it a little bit further, if you will, the importance of conducting market research and having the right strategy in place when it comes to improving the experience and all things linked to ABM. So can you talk to us a bit about that?
Cristina Daroca 14:25
Yeah, market research is so crucial for ABM. We marketers are usually very prone to just launching things and you know, we’re always, we always like action. So we tried to launch things very quickly. But you absolutely need to do your market research before you launch anything. Speak with your customers, sit on sales calls, speak to the sales team, you know, do all the research that you can. We’re actually going through that right now because we’re launching some new programs that have been out a year and we hired an agency to do some market research for us in parallel to ours. Right, like speaking with our sales team. speaking with our customers and doing all of that internally, but it’s really about understanding the market, what’s happening, what’s going on? What’s the competition doing? Why, you know, how are your products really helping these customers? and then building your programs off of that. Because, you know, if you just go with your own assumptions, you’re probably not going to be right. So it’s really, really crucial to do all of that research and all of that work before you launch anything. And before you even build your strategy really.
Christian Klepp 15:31
Absolutely. I will 100% agree with you. But now I’m gonna play the devil’s advocate a little bit, right? Because I’ve been in this situation before, and I’m sure you have as well. And I know some B2B marketers in my professional network that are facing the same problem. What if, I mean, we all know that it’s important to conduct market research and have the right strategy. But what if you have to work with other members within the organization to pull this all off? And they completely dismiss it and say, that’s a complete waste of time? We don’t have time for research and strategy. We need the results right? Now. Let’s skip that part. So how do you deal with that?
Cristina Daroca 16:11
I would push back, honestly, because I’m sure you’ve run campaigns in the past that haven’t worked. And you can use those and say, Look, we did this campaign, it didn’t work, it didn’t really result in much. And you know what, we just didn’t have the right message, or we didn’t target the right people. And that’s where the market research is going to, you know, help us with the next campaign. And I, I understand that some people feel like you know, it’s a little bit too much. We know what we do, we know our customers, we don’t need to go through that. But you absolutely need to go through that. We all need to constantly be doing market research, the market changes every, you know, every single month. So you have to be doing market research continuously. So I would try to push back as much as I could. If it’s, you know, someone very senior who says like, you don’t have a chance against them, then do your own market research, you know, just pull a couple of hours every week. And we tend to focus on LinkedIn that you can have a conversation with, or reach out to your sellers and have conversations with your sellers. Nobody’s going to, you know, not let you have a call with the seller answers. Ask them about, hey, walk me through that deal that you just closed, right? What happened? What were they asking? If you have recordings of the calls, you know, listen to the calls, just do your own research, and even if it’s just for yourself and your own education, but you’ll be able to then provide so much more value during the program, you know, and it’ll help everybody.
Christian Klepp 17:39
So in other words, I mean, short of sounding like a teacher, do your homework.
Cristina Daroca 17:44
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Don’t go rogue, but do your homework. And you know, do your own research. Yeah, exactly.
Christian Klepp 17:55
You know, Cristina, we’re at the end of 2023 now, and, you know, everybody is in planning mode, or they’ve already probably come up with our plan for the coming year. You most likely have had your ear to the ground, and you’ve looked at some recent trends. So maybe give us two or three. Right? What are some recent trends that you’ve seen, that B2B marketers should be aware of, especially if they’re thinking about ABM?
Cristina Daroca 18:23
Yeah. Well, the first one and most clear is AI. Right? We’re here with AI left and right, every single day. And…
Christian Klepp 18:33
We did so well. We’ve gone like almost 30 minutes now without talking about AI.
Cristina Daroca 18:39
Yeah. So sorry to bring it up. It’s inevitable. Yeah, no, but it’s, you know, it’s in our lives, we can’t avoid it. I am so excited about what AI can do for us. And I’m, you know, I’m definitely on the AI train. And I love it. And I am trying to, you know, get as, as, you know, as educated as I can with ist. But I would also caution ourselves in terms of, you know, again, losing that relevancy and, and just assuming that AI can solve everything for us, because it can’t, at least now. Maybe it will at some point, but right now, you know, we’re still very early stages. So all of these tools, and other vendors will tell you like, oh, yeah, we have AI and with our AI, you can do this and you can do that. Just make sure that you’re not losing relevancy with your customers and your prospects. So again, you know, if they are promising you that they can serve the, you know, personalized content to every single person out there at the right time, etc. I don’t know. I don’t believe in that yet. I don’t think that’s right. So you do have to do your homework again and really understand your customers and understand how you’re gonna deliver that message and that content. And, you know, it might still be a little bit manual. If you really want to do you know, one to one ABM that’s still manual, you can’t you know, automate that and send it out to the masses. So I, as much as I love AI, I do think that we need to be careful with how we apply it and use it for ABM at least for now.
Cristina Daroca 20:10
Yeah, and the second one, I think, you know, with all the changes we’ve seen in 2023, with, you know, a lot of layoffs and teams being, you know, reorganized and things like that, I am seeing a lot of folks and a lot of talent now setting up, you know, their own agencies, or just being fractional, and, you know, doing all that. So, I think, for us who are so you know, in our traditional nine to five, we are gonna have to be very flexible and be open to having some folks, you know, come in, and I’m having external help. Because, again, we’ve lost team members we are, our teams are smaller, we have fewer resources, but there’s a lot of talent out there that I think we can utilize. And the same way we’ve been utilizing communities and you know, just learning from our peers and things like that online in the last three, four years, I think now we’re going to see a lot of folks who, you know, are out there and can help us with, you know, project based things. And I think that’s going to be a very big trend in marketing going forward.
Christian Klepp 21:18
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, that second one really, probably hits close to home for a lot of people, but like the reality of like, what’s the current economic climate. I sound like a politician when I say that, but you know, it’s true. I wanted to go back to the AI point, right? If you could, at a very just, maybe from a top level perspective, when it comes to ABM, can you give us some examples of where you think AI could be very useful to teams, and other situations where perhaps it’s best that they keep AI out of the equation? And let an actual human handle that?
Cristina Daroca 22:03
Yeah, yeah. So I think the personalization piece, you know, AI can definitely help you personalize a lot of content based on you know, the persona, based on the account based on geography, territories, things like that. So I do think that that could be a very helpful piece, the only thing is, you know, garbage in, garbage out. So if you don’t have the right data, that’s not going to work. So we all have to, you know, do a good job of, of having our data be very clean or as clean as we can have it. And then pieces where I don’t think it can help us much is building relationships, we, you know, ultimately, we’re all human, we’re still human for now. And I think you still have to build all those relationships in person. So although our buyers are, you know, making most of their decisions online and most of their journey online, we do have to have that in-person piece, right. And so don’t forget about having in-person meetings or in-person events or things like that, you know, bringing back the human element, I think is very important. And I don’t think AI can do much for that yet.
Christian Klepp 23:15
Can’t too much for that yet. And hopefully, it won’t be able to do much for that for a while. (laugh) Okay, so this next question is what I call the Lego question. Why? Because I’d like you to break it down into its respective parts for the benefit of the audience. So what should B2B marketers be aware of, what are the components that you believe will help to improve the experience for customers and prospects in ABM?
Cristina Daroca 23:50
Yeah, I think it’s really going back to building your program as a process, right? So think about it in a process where you start with your research, like we said before, really getting that alignment with your salesteam, understanding who you want to go after, and what you you have to offer to them. And then building your building blocks of the actual campaign, what are the channels you’re going to use? What is the content that you have to produce? How are you going to get that content in front of your customers? And then bringing in the human element, right? Like, when are you going to start reaching out to them, you know, on a one to one basis with your sellers? How can you bring those customers and prospects, maybe for an in-person event or a user group or something like that, where they can network and meet other customers and sort of like start building that community? And then ultimately, right you start having conversations with them about an actual opportunity and a deal. I think that’s really you know, that you have to have those building blocks very clear in your head and you know, on paper, document everything, and just make sure that you’re going through the process and you’re not skipping steps.
Christian Klepp 24:58
I’m hearing all these things that you’re saying and while I tend to agree with them, I can’t help but think like, is there any way that you can pull any of this off without completely like, going over budget? And I’m sure you’ve come across this scenario, probably more times than you care to come. So maybe can you give us an example?
Cristina Daroca 25:21
An example of going over budget?
Christian Klepp 25:24
Well, not going over budget, but like, how do you how do you deal with the budget equation? Because for example, I don’t disagree. I think events are important, but they can also, you know, they can, they can also be, they can also get expensive, right? Depends on how many channels you use and what not.
Cristina Daroca 25:42
Yeah, so I would try to not be on too many channels, because first of all, you’re not going to be able to do all of them, depending on the resources that you have. But you know, usually we don’t have extra resources. So I would definitely choose a few channels, and start there, see what works, and then, you know, continue to grow from there. And yeah, just monitor your budget very closely. Make sure that you know where you can spend the money, and you know, how much money you’re gonna be spending per channel. I, you know, I think that there’s certain things that yeah, they’re expensive, like in-person events, but they add so much to the experience, and they really help you build trust, and build, you know, those opportunities, versus, you know, other things that might be online, or they’re, you know, less. Yeah, it is less human, and you’re still spending money on them. So you know, make sure that you’re not wasting money on things that are not adding to the experience. And you can shift that budget to things that are more impactful.
Christian Klepp 26:46
Okay, Cristina, we get to the part in the conversation where we’re talking about actionable tips. So I’m gonna throw in this caveat that let’s appreciate that you probably cannot put together an ABM campaign in an hour. It might even take more than a day. Right? But that said, like if somebody is listening to this conversation that you and I are having, right, who’s a B2B marketer, who’s contemplating either doing an ABM campaign, or doing something around improving the experience for customers and prospects. What are three to five things that you would say they could do right now?
Cristina Daroca 27:21
Yeah. Um, so first of all, I don’t think you have to overcomplicate ABM, you could just pick a few things and include them in your current programs and just start there and start, you know, adding some ABM tactics to your current programs without having a blown out, you know, ABM program itself. So yeah, just think about the things that you can do to impact the experience that your customers are having with you, right. And, again, I go back to in-person, things always work really well, it really depends on your audience and who your buyers are. But for us, at least, trying to sell to executives, they, they like to speak with their peers, they like to listen to other people doing the same things that they are doing, right. So try to bring those folks together, give them opportunities to network and to spend time together. And that way, you can also listen to them and understand them a little bit better, right? And then I would also include in their content, make sure that you are developing the right content for the right audience. This is something that’s very hard to get right. But again, do your research, do your homework, really understand what are the things that your customers need to solve today? You know what, how can you create urgency? How can you get in front of them? And those are the pieces of you know, the piece of content that you need to develop and the things that you have to be answering in your content. And then from there, just again, choose two or three channels and make sure that you’re pushing that content out and getting in front of your customers, because you’re not going to be able to use all the channels under the sun. If you’re on LinkedIn, you’re going to be hearing about you know, every channel is dead. So don’t listen to that. But you know, choose a few channels that work for you that have worked in the past and start there.
Christian Klepp 29:14
Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah, on that note, like, all those LinkedIn posts, like ABM is dead. Email is dead. SMS is dead. Everything is dead. (laugh)
Cristina Daroca 29:26
Christian Klepp 29:28
But I did have a follow up question for you regarding content for ABM because, you know, I think you’ve seen a lot of that right. From your experience, where do you think the B2B content for ABM tends to fall flat? And what I mean by that is, you see companies that are just churning out all this content and they’re trying to like incorporate it into their ABM campaign somehow or into the different stages of the of the sales funnel or what have you. And where have you seen content just not working, or just not being effective. What was the main reason for that?
Cristina Daroca 30:05
Yeah, I think content doesn’t work when it’s not relevant. And that it’s as simple as that. I keep going back to the same, but it’s really what it is. If you are relevant, if you really do your homework, and you really understand your customers, and you know what they’re struggling with now, and you can build content around that, then that content tends to resonate. One thing that we’ve done in the past, and you know, this is not too complicated to do is get four or five, six people together on a call. When I say people, I mean customers on a call on like, you know, a zoom webinar or something like that, and just have a conversation with them and send them a few questions ahead of time that they can prepare, they come together, they have a discussion, and they share their thoughts on those. And then with that, you can use those ideas and use what you’ve heard in that conversation without really having to quote them if they don’t want to be quoted, but just use those ideas to build your own content. And that way, you’re speaking their language, you’re saying the same things they’re saying, and you can then use that to target other customers, right? So again, it’s really about listening to your customers, understanding where they’re struggling and what they are, you know, what’s top of mind for them and what they’re talking about when they get together with peers. And then using that in your content and and driving your content strategy.
Christian Klepp 31:30
Ya no, exactly, exactly. Okay. This is probably one of your favorite questions, metrics.
Cristina Daroca 31:39
Christian Klepp 31:40
Metrics, because at some point, you’re gonna have to show results to somebody. Right?
Cristina Daroca 31:44
Christian Klepp 31:45
And hopefully, those metrics will show that you’ve made progress that in this case for this particular discussion, that you have helped to improve that experience for customers and prospects. So what are some of the top metrics that B2B marketers should be paying attention to?
Cristina Daroca 32:01
Yeah, so we bucket our ABM metrics into three different buckets. One is engagement. The other one is pipeline, and then revenue. So like I said, if you have a long sales cycle, you’re not going to be able to just wait until you see the revenue to see if things are working. So you need your leading indicators. So engagement is really your leading indicator. And within engagement, you can be measuring a couple of different things. We measure, you know, how many campaigns do we have in market? How many account plans if you’re doing one to one, for example, where you have a specific account plan for an account? How many account plans do you have? How many account plans are executed? And, you know, underway? And then is the content resonating? Meaning, are your named accounts or your target accounts responding to the activities you’re putting out there? Right? Whether that’s webinars, in -person events, whatever it is, are they consuming the content. So that’s all part of the engagement. And you want to make sure that your accounts, the accounts you’re targeting, are engaging with all of that. Then once you’re past that, and you start to see meetings and conversations going, you then start to get into pipelines. So are we building more pipeline? Are we building… You know, it really depends on your goals. But if you want to cross sell, or upsell, are we building those types of opportunities. And then once you’re seeing opportunities, and you’re seeing, you know, continue to advance to the cycle, then you obviously want to see revenue, you want to see that you are closing bigger deals, the deals are closing faster. So there’s a lot of different metrics that you can be looking at. But essentially, I like to bucket them into those three, those three categories.
Christian Klepp 33:41
I was so sure that you would have no problem answering that question. Because ABM, like a lot of these disciplines, there’s so many metrics to look at. And I think, perhaps, the challenge is not like that is, in fact, I think that one of the challenges that correct me if I’m wrong, is which metrics to focus on, because they’re probably so many metrics, that maybe some marketers become overwhelmed, right?
Cristina Daroca 34:07
Absolutely. And one thing I also like to look at when I look at metrics is compare them to a control group. So make sure you have a set of accounts that you’re not necessarily targeting, and make sure you can compare those because otherwise, you know, if you… you can go back to your sales team and say like, oh, this program was great, you know, we close three opportunities. Well, what does that mean? How many accounts they will target, you know, is three a lot. It’s three, not a lot. So, it’s good to also have a control group where, you know, you can compare to that group and say, okay, the control group, we didn’t close any opportunities in this period of time, versus with ABM, we did close two or three or however many, right? So it’s always helpful to have a control group. Not always possible, because sometimes, you know, then you get the reaction of Whoa, why are we not targeting those in the control group? So you know, you have to navigate that conversation but if you can have a control group. That’s that’s always very helpful.
Christian Klepp 35:04
Yeah, yeah, no, no, that definitely makes sense. Okay, Cristina, I think you’ve already been on your soapbox, but please stay up there a little bit longer. For this next question, a status quo in your area of expertise that you passionately disagree with? And why.
Cristina Daroca 35:24
Yep, I really disagree with tying every single tactic and every single thing that we do in marketing with revenue, I absolutely think we need to bring in revenue, I absolutely think we own a number and we have to deliver on a number. But I think a lot of us in demand generation and ABM, we’ve over rotated lately to you know, having to justify every single thing with a with a revenue number, right. And it doesn’t work like that. Marketing has always been a marketing mix, we used… when I was in college, we studied marketing mix, right? Like, it’s a mix of things that get you to the revenue, but it’s not one thing or one tactic. So I tend to disagree with you know, people who say like, everything drives revenue, and everything has to be tied to revenue. In my opinion, it doesn’t, of course, at the end of the day, you have to be bringing in revenue, and you have to own a number. But not every single tactic, or every single channel or every single piece of content can be attached to revenue. You have to know what works, what doesn’t work, you need to be able to measure the things that you need to measure. But at the end of the day, you know, as long as you are demonstrating that you as a marketing team, and as a marketing program, you are driving pipeline and revenue. I think that’s the goal, and not just you know, tying every single tactic to revenue.
Christian Klepp 36:47
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve, you know, and I’m sure you’ve, you’ve gone through the same where, I was sitting in meetings with either clients or back then with a board of directors, and every time they keep saying, what’s the ROI, what’s the ROI? And they’re always comparing, like dollars to dollars, right? So, if we spent like, 20,000 are you going to guarantee me 100,000 in revenue, and we constantly have those conversations for every single initiative that we rolled out. And somehow, it was always challenging to get them to understand, to your point that it doesn’t, why it doesn’t work like that. Right?
Cristina Daroca 37:27
Christian Klepp 37:30
Fantastic. No, Cristina, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise and experience with the audience. So please, tell us a little bit about yourself and how people can get in touch with you. And by the way, how does someone with a degree in environmental sciences end up in SaaS marketing? Just out of curiosity
Cristina Daroca 37:50
That’s a good question that I asked myself every day. I always thought it was gonna be like a climate activist and I do care a lot about climate and I started my career in energy and climate tech. And you know, hopefully, someday I can go back to that and, you know, pursue that passion. But yeah, life gets in the way. I, you know, at one point, I needed a job, I got laid off from an energy company that I love, and I needed a job on a job in IT came up and then you know, I just went more into like the IT world, and that’s where I am now. So yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m Cristina Daroca, and I’d be happy to connect with anyone there.
Christian Klepp 38:33
Fantastic. Once again, Cristina, thank you so much for your time.
Cristina Daroca 38:37
Thank you. Yeah, this is great. Thank you so much, Christian.
Christian Klepp 38:42
Take care. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.
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