David B. Thomas
Senior Director of Inbound Marketing at Leadspace
I’ve always liked the phrase, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s especially meaningful to me as a tech marketer. Even if we don’t win every deal, we still benefit whenever a new company learns the value of predictive analytics for B2B lead generation.
If account-based marketing (ABM) is the tide, there are an awful lot of boats right now. In fact, the biggest barrier to ABM entry may well be confusion about where to start. So far I don’t see anyone claiming to have all the ABM answers or the one tool to implement ABM start to finish. Which is good, because none exists. The smartest thing for the … um… captains of all the boats riding the ABM tide is to collaborate on drawing and sharing good navigational charts. (Don’t worry, I’m done with the nautical metaphors.)
Sangram Vajre, CMO and co-founder of Terminus, knows ABM will succeed if enough B2B marketers learn its value and adopt not just the tools, but the mindset. To that end, he created the FlipMyFunnel consortium: an inclusive, competition-neutral group of solutions providers working together to present a series of events designed to bring more marketers on board. (Sorry, can’t stop.)
I spoke to Sangram not long after the FlipMyFunnel event in Boston. He estimates 500 marketers attended, compared to 150 for the same event in Boston in December of 2015.
“The whole FlipMyFunnel movement has helped to foster and build these relationships,” Sangram told me. “It’s still not a Terminus conference. We don’t do a Terminus pitch. We’re trying to keep it open as long as possible.”
ABM Cloud: solutions for Salesforce users
We also talked about the launch of ABM Cloud, which lets marketers “choose from 35 best-in-class ABM technology providers that integrate with Salesforce to build the perfect stack for your business.” (Leadspace is one of them.)
It’s hard to know what to call ABM Cloud. I’ve seen it referred to most often as a partner program, and that makes the most sense. But there isn’t the typical company-to-company connection you see in traditional partner programs. “Agglomeration” might be accurate, but it sounds pretty awful. Whatever we call it, bringing companies into the fold has been easy, Sangram said, because of the inclusive nature.
“We’re trying to help marketers understand what tools to use,” he said. “We have over 250 customers, and they ask us all the time, ‘Hey, what data providers should I use? Who should I use for predictive? What does the best-in-class ABM stack look like?’
“If you’re only using Terminus, you’re not doing ABM. If you have too many accounts, you should have predictive analytics. If you’re not measuring ABM the right way, you should look at Engagio.”
The roadblocks to ABM adoption
I asked Sangram what roadblocks he hears about when discussing ABM implementation. He did not hesitate.
“Hands down, what we hear most often is, ‘We don’t know what accounts to go after,’” especially from marketers charged with helping the sales team identify which accounts to address. Often he suggests companies slow down their headlong rush toward ABM and herd their cats.
“We pause campaigns and wait until they have their data together,” he explained. “The results are only as good as the accounts. Especially for demand gen.”
The most successful ABM use case for B2B marketing
Account selection may be a challenge, but Sangram sees customer success down the funnel. “The number one success we see is in pipeline velocity. As soon as an opportunity is created,” he said, that brings clarity.
“They know that person will buy from them or a competitor. It may be hard to get started without knowing the right accounts to start with, but if you have them in your pipeline, you can go after them.”
What’s the future of FlipMyFunnel, ABM Cloud and Terminus?
So far, FlipMyFunnel and ABM Cloud have engendered cooperation and good feeling. I asked Sangram how long he thought that would last.
“About a year, quite candidly. There will be some consolidation, some clarity, some people will drop off,” he said, just like in every martech category. He’s developing the vision for where Terminus fits in the evolution.
“We want to own the interaction layer and help marketers do more across multiple channels. We don’t feel we’ll compete with predictive analytics, for example. Some alliances will continue, some will drop off.”
Terminus has around 70 employees now, Sangram said, and he expects to grow that number to 100 by year end. As with any startup, growth brings challenges and opportunities.
“We’ll want to figure out the next iteration of Terminus as a product. This is the time to explore if we’re a point solution company or a platform company. That requires bigger thinking and a bigger boat around us.”
At least I think he said “boat,” but maybe that’s just me.
photo of Sangram by the author