There’s no doubt that the marketing world is an ever-changing landscape, with new flashy technology at every turn, a trendy methodology released every other day and “magic bullets” left and right. But at the end of the day, all of those things mean nothing if they’re not accomplishing every marketers number one goal: driving demand.
While that may sound simple enough, what does it truly mean in practice? We sat down with SiriusDecisions’ senior research director Kerry Cunningham, who has more than 20 years of experience as a B2B marketing thought leader, to discuss demand and share where predictive fits in. From Kerry’s perspective, there are six tangible ways to truly achieve scalable and repeatable demand:
Aligning on Demand Units
Engineering a Target Demand Stage
Seeing Group Behavior, Not Just Individuals
Identifying the Buyer’s Journey with Intent
Engaging Your Units of Demand
Prioritizing Demand for Effective Outreach
At first glance, getting the whole organization on the same page about who their buyers are seems like a simple enough initial step. But according to Kerry, most marketing and sales team are typically aligned around target accounts, not target demand units – which is the real selling opportunity. SiriusDecisions urges teams to become focused on defining their targets as “buying centers with a need and the people assigned to address that need.” Determining these demand units is a cross-functional, collaborative exercise that may require initial heavy lifting, but answering the following questions is a manageable starting point:
What does a good-fit need look like?
What causes buying cycles to start and what influences their prioritization?
Who engages with sellers and influences purchases?
What resources must the group command to acquire the solution?
Once there’s consensus on what an ideal customer may look like in theory, it’s time for organizations to move onto what SiriusDecisions calls the Target Demand stage. Target demand helps teams understand which demand units are a good fit and have a need for their solutions. This is what most of you know as Total Addressable Market or TAM. While we agree that understanding TAM is important, at 6sense we take it a step further and uncover organizations’ TAMnow, to better understand the Active Demand stage and double down on the aspect of time.
At this stage, teams are focused on which demand units are not only a good fit, but have a need now and are demonstrating behavior indicative of being in an active buying cycle. SiriusDecisions defines this practice as “deriving signals from the behavioral noise to identify when your prospects are in market.” What do we mean by behavioral noise? While most people only think of third-party intent data, all forms of prospect data can be regarded as potential signs of buying intent. These include a combination of the following: first party (information generated by owned and operated systems), third party (information provided by an external source), identified (known, but not invited) and opt-in (given explicit permission to contact). SiriusDecisions dives even further into intent data here if you’re interested in learning more.
Signal v. Noise
At 6sense, our Intent Graph does the heavy lifting within the Target Stage to stitch together every internal system, from CRM to MAP to website, then marries it to third-party research data to deliver meaningful insight from across the full funnel, both known and anonymous. Once these dots are connected, teams can move into Kerry’s next stage and leverage past behavioral patterns to reveal the nature of their buyer’s journeys and better understand how engaged they are.
By reconstructing the journeys that led up to prior purchases, marketers have insight like never before into the patterns that are indicative of buying stages. With this, marketing can increase conversion rates for ABM campaigns with highly targeted, personalized messaging and even the sales team benefits! AEs and BDRs can reach out at the precise moment a buyer is ready to engage – never too early or too late.
Now that you know who to target and when, we move to Kerry’s fifth step and focus on what SiriusDecisions calls “engaged demand.” Since these prospects or demand units are already engaged, it’s time to accelerate them through the funnel and work to convert. For 6sense customer Vyze, having insight into its buyers throughout the funnel has been critical. “With 6sense, I can finally align my digital campaigns with actual account behavior and engagement. It’s a game changer for how we think about account-based marketing,” said Vyze marketing director Leila Nazari.
Turning Insight Into Action
From deploying digital ads based on buying stage to account-based engagement analytics, personalizing within “engaged demand” generates more pipeline and drives up ROI. SiriusDecisions even found that “audience-centric campaigns can increase conversion rates by 50 percent.” But with increased pipeline comes another task – of the companies that are engaged, which ones should be prioritized for human interaction and how should sales target? For many sales organizations, the Fortune 500 has historically been their target account list. But now with statistical modeling and behavioral insight, teams can prioritize their selling time to reach out at exactly the right time and ultimately optimize conversions and increase efficiency.
Additionally, sales teams now have insight into every interaction a prospective account has taken, across every channel, both known and anonymous. For sales organizations like PGi, this has been a huge differentiator and they’ve witnessed 68 percent faster time-to-close, 9x lift in average deal sizes and 77 percent increases in win rates. PGi’s Vice President of Marketing Kerry Trivers said, “thanks to the unprecedented intelligence we’ve gained about our buyers and their behaviors, our sales efforts are focused, effective and smarter.” You can hear more about how PGi became hyper-targeted in their ABM efforts here.
If your team is ready to tackle the above stages and truly achieve scalable and repeatable demand, check out our on-demand webinar here for Kerry’s first-hand advice to working through every stage. If you’re already somewhere along your journey and looking to uncover buyers or hoping to accelerate them more quickly through the funnel, check out how full-funnel demand intelligence can help here.
We’re thrilled to announce the expansion of our executive team with three key hires who will help lead our go-to-market strategy and further accelerate growth for 6sense!
We sat down with David Simon, our new Chief Revenue Officer and Sanjay Kini, our new Vice President of Sales Engineering to hear more about their plans to help 6sense transform marketing technology and empower sales and marketing teams with the power of big data and artificial intelligence.
Q: You’re both starting at a time of intense momentum and transformation for 6sense. Can you share a little about your journey to get here and what ultimately drove your decision to join the team?
Dave: Having formerly worked with Jason at Responsys, when he reached out and told me about his plans to spearhead a new era of intelligent marketing and sales at 6sense as CEO, I had to hear more. I’ve spent most of my career driving revenue for premium providers and the last decade has been with world-class martech companies. From my experience, while enterprise-grade companies are incredibly valuable, their specific value tends to be fairly nuanced. 6sense struck me instantly because of how clearly differentiated the product is. In a space that is undeniably crowded, with providers and buzzwords only adding to the confusion, 6sense has built the big data AI platform that allows it to stand on its own away from the noise. The Forrester Wave naming us the leader in the space completely validated my instincts. If the product itself weren’t already enough to convince me, the team put me over the edge. I’ve not only worked alongside Jason, Sanjay and Kyle Christensen, our new CMO, at Responsys, but I’ve also witnessed Viral and Amanda in action and knew they had the technical chops to sustain and extend the market momentum they had already achieved for 6sense.
Sanjay: My passion is to help customers drive business results and solve business problems through technology. We did that at Responsys and Oracle Marketing Cloud for B2C companies – typically ACV was in the $100 or so range – but with 6sense, every opportunity that we can help convert has the potential to drive hundreds of thousands of dollars for our customers. 6sense provides me with the chance to be part of something transformational. 6sense has incredible technology in a market that is still nascent. I saw Responsys grow from $15M to well over $200M and while interviewing at 6sense, I felt like I would get the opportunity to do this all over again. We have the technology and team to help our customers find in-market buyers and drive them through to conversion to impact the business in a lasting way. With Fortune 5000 enterprises and fast-growing B2B companies like Box, Cisco and Dell as customers, we’re partnering with some of the smartest marketing and sales teams to no longer operate on static look-alike firmographics, but instead leverage behavioral data (both 1st party and 3rd party) across the full funnel that shines a light on buyer intent.
Q: Can you tell me about the market opportunity you see for 6sense?
Dave: The market opportunity we have is so large that it’s almost unquantifiable. We help companies identify more deals, and get into them sooner, delivering ROI of up to 405%. We’re also solving problems for sales and marketing that have not only existed forever, but have shockingly gotten worse as the B2B buyer’s journey has continuously evolved and become more complex. Sales and marketing teams have become desperate to align themselves with the modern, cross-channel B2B buyer journey. With its big data technology and time-based modeling, 6sense leverages massive volumes of unstructured behavioral data from across the web then combines it with a customer’s first party data to provide unique visibility across the entire customer journey for both anonymous and known buyers. We’re shining a light onto our customers’ buyers and where they are. On top of that, we then give our customers the power to action on those insights – from optimizing their media spend to making every aspect of their ABM campaigns smarter – to reach their buyers and ultimately drive revenue.
Sanjay: Off of Dave’s point, the results that our customers are already seeing only foreshadow the future of this market. We’re working within an industry that until only recently, was reserved for the early adopters and innovators. The permeation of predictive past just enthusiasts and visionaries into new industries and verticals can be attributed to the real, measurable results that businesses are witnessing. Dell is the perfect example of a customer who chose to double down on predictive and is seeing incredible successes as a result. Using 6sense to uncover key opportunities, Dell achieved a 100x increase in attach rates in its email campaigns. The team additionally saw a 3x lift on MQL to SQL conversion, a 2x-6x lift in opportunity size, 50% higher deal sizes and a 12x return in media spend. These are the types of results that executives crave – true ROI that ultimately impacts the bottom line. So to answer your question, any B2B company with a considered purchase is our market opportunity. We can easily make an argument that we add equal or more value compared to products like Salesforce (CRM) and Eloqua or Marketo (MAP) as we’re driving pipeline and revenue by creating new opportunities.
Q: You both have backgrounds in sales and marketing, how do you feel 6sense’s technology impacts modern sales and marketing leaders?
Dave: When Jason and the team shared the powerful insights that 6sense could deliver, my wheels started turning on all the pain points this technology would solve for me as a sales leader. I began to think back to the deals that I had lost out on because I was either too late or I didn’t understand enough about my buyer and their journey. In the enterprise world, missing the window of opportunity when a prospect is in-market can mean a lost deal for years. There’s really nothing worse than having a great fit account and then losing them to another vendor who got to them first. With that in mind, I asked how our own team internally benefits from the insights of our product. I was thrilled to hear that not only were we regularly getting into sales conversations early, but we had just closed a $300K deal as a result. A prospect who had gone cold on us months prior, who we had completely counted out, then spiked in our 6sense instance and illustrated high levels of behavioral intent for predictive intelligence solutions. As it turns out, they had just begun a high-priority initiative for predictive and we were the first vendor to make it to the table. Because buyers’ needs and timing are constantly shifting, 6sense’s ability to provide daily updates as buying intent involves is crucial.
Sanjay: In the age of technology, information isn’t democratized. Long gone are the days where sales people had the first touch on a potential buyer. Today’s buyers are self-sufficient and self-educating with any and all content they can access – both across the web and within a company’s own website. Because marketers and sellers have lost visibility into their buyer’s pains and needs, technology like 6sense has the ability to shine a light back onto that journey and buying process. The toughest challenge here is being able to tell a comprehensive story. For 6sense, we can paint the most accurate picture because we actually measure and connect engagement across the full funnel – not just a slice of it. Through partnerships and with our own network, we capture 3rd party data, then stitch it to our customers’ website behavior (both known and anonymous) and finally bring it together with complete CRM and Marketing Automation behavior. With this web of data, our customers can now understand the complete journey of their buyers – from an initial search inquiry to anonymous research across their marketing content to an open opportunity. In the end, our solution helps not just the demand-gen team within marketing but also the individual sales reps and sales leaders.
Q: How does your experience lend itself to driving 6sense into its next chapter of growth?
Dave: 6sense is at the point as a company where we’re poised for hyper-growth. Having led sales at Responsys, I’m thrilled to bring my experience building and scaling next-generation companies to the table. When I first joined Responsys, it was a company that was great at selling into the high-end enterprise but had difficulty capitalizing on opportunities in the mid-market. By implementing a GTM playbook that told our story and differentiators clearly to the market, we were able to expand with a 20% increase in win rates. Not only do I predict that we’ll do the same at 6sense, but I’m also confident we’ll successfully educate the market on what is truly time-based predictive intelligence and how companies can achieve real ROI. As we educate the industry, I’m excited to continue to partner with the sophisticated and aspirational marketing and sales leaders in companies of all sizes, that are ready to leverage timing to drive revenue and create lasting business impact.
Sanjay: For the last 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with industry-leading companies on everything from building and cultivating a team to expanding into international markets. With 6sense, I’m joining at a time where we already have the knowledgeable team, a highly differentiated product, proven customer results, a market ripe to be transformed and incredible momentum. As I mentioned earlier, I saw Responsys grow from $15M ARR to $200M+ARR and Rational from about $40M/yr to $750M per year during my tenure. I now have the opportunity to come in and put the processes and procedure in place to ensure success as we grow and expand. I have worked very closely with Jason, Dave and Kyle in the past, so we don’t have to waste time getting used to each other’s styles and can instead, start with guns blazing. I firmly believe that our success will be measured by the success of our customers so my absolute top priority will be to continuously drive impact and adoption for our customers even as we scale new heights.
What is something you’re looking forward to now that you’ve joined?
Dave: Now that I’ve joined, I can’t wait to harness the incredible energy and culture that 6sense already has in place and cultivate it even further. Sanjay and I both share the philosophy of building a high performance and fun sales culture by hiring incredibly bright, coachable people who enjoy collaborating, without ego. In order to rapidly scale our sales organization, we will continue to only hire people with high integrity who are incredibly passionate about what we are doing. Personally, I tend to look for people who can take on a much larger role within a few months with a little bit of on-the-job experience and some guidance and coaching. I also believe that attitude is equal or more important than aptitude. We only have room for passionate, positive individuals who are ready to make a huge impact on our customers and effectively influence the entire course of our company. I can’t wait to do all of that while ensuring everyone walks into a fun work environment, full of collaboration, accountability and mindfulness. If 6sense sounds like the place for you, let us know!
Read more about how the our new go-to-market executive team will accelerate our leadership position and further enable sales and marketing teams to drive revenue in unprecedented ways here.
Learn more about our company culture and open job opportunities here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The whole world is going digital – and companies everywhere must adapt to compete. No industry is immune. And this digital transformation is happening fast.
Look at it this way:
Retail stores seem to be closing faster than the news can cover them – giving in to a meteoric rise in online shopping.
It was 2008 when small home-sharing start-up Airbnb came on the scene. In just nine years, it has become the billion-dollar behemoth turning the hospitality industry on its head.
Only about four years ago, the likes of Uber and Lyft really started to disrupt the taxi industry.
So it doesn’t take much time for an innovation to go from “What If” to “What’s Next.” And if companies today want to compete, they need to adapt. They need to adopt the technologies that will help them succeed in today’s digital world. And from what I’ve seen, the early adopters are often the biggest winners. Let me show you why.
My own journey from What If to What’s Next
Back in early 2012, I signed on as vice president of global customer success and services at Okta, a leading independent provider of identity for the enterprise. The company provides the foundation for secure connections between companies and their customers and partners worldwide. Thousands of organizations use Okta’s platform to work faster, boost revenue and stay secure.
In 2013, Forrester released a Forrester Wave report (aka Forrester’s evaluation of vendors in a software, hardware or services market) in the Identity and Access Management space for the cloud. The report named Okta as one of the top leaders in the space. At that time, only a few B2B companies subscribed to this kind of service in the cloud (hint: early adopters).
Managing identity in the cloud was simply not seen as a business necessity back then – so not many companies were willing to take the leap. But the few who did, saw the opportunity to better manage their growing portfolio of cloud or web apps. They saw the opportunity to leverage the latest innovation that could make them more productive, more agile. And they seized it. These same B2B companies were early adopters of the cloud itself (no surprise) – because they saw that the cloud was the future.
Just one year later…
In 2014, Okta secured a leader spot in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Identity and Access Management as a Service. It would repeat in 2015, 2016 and 2017. (This year, identity in the cloud was merged with access management, which includes all large IT vendors: Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and CA Technologies.)
Side note: Microsoft and Salesforce joined the space in 2015. A bit scary – but clear validation that this technology was moving from early adopters to early majority on the adoption curve. The early majority is the first sizable segment of a population to adopt an innovative technology – so for these types, think brands like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. From where I sat, this was proof that Okta’s technology had moved from What If to What’s Next.
OK, so fast forward to the here and now. I joined 6sense as the chief customer officer five months ago and I am already seeing history repeat itself. I am already witnessing a movement from What If to What’s Next with 6sense’s intelligent marketing cloud.
The report was designed to help B2B marketers make the right decisions when choosing a partner to help them identify and reach ready-to-buy prospects. But it also revealed a growing demand for predictive analytics – because early adopters are seeing their efforts turn into “real, measurable results.” Forrester backs that up in its recent Total Economic Impact (TEI) study conducted on behalf of 6sense, which shows that the 6sense predictive intelligence platform delivered a 405% ROI. That sounds like “real, measurable results” to me.
One such early adopter is our customer Dell EMC who leverages 6sense to hyper-target their customers and stay on the cutting edge of competition. In a recent CMO article, Dell EMC SVP of Marketing Gaurav Chand describes the results of the partnership as “incredible.”
The article states that “whereas traditionally, Dell EMC might blast out a message to millions of customers and hope for an attach rate of 0.3 percent, using 6sense it can target a specific population and achieve results of 30 percent or greater.”
Still, here I go again…
Despite this evidence, predictive marketing analytics is still a premium service in the early-adopter phase. There are a handful of B2B companies using this technology today to gain full visibility into who their buyers are, what their needs are and precisely where they are in the buyer’s journey. Because they see how it can fuel lead generation and conversion. They see how it can drive productivity and growth. Perhaps they even see that this is the future of B2B sales and marketing success.
So, while I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu, I’m also feeling a ton of excitement. Because for the second time in just five years, I find myself standing on the edge of What’s Next. And if you’re on a B2B sales or marketing team, you are too. Because at a time when the whole world is going digital, the technology you need to reach and engage in-market buyers is right at your fingertips.
Forrester has just released The Forrester WaveTM: Predictive Marketing Analytics for B2B Marketers, Q2 2017. In the first report of its kind for the predictive marketing analytics space, Forrester named 6sense a leader among predictive analytics providers.
In Forrester’s new report designed to help B2B marketers make the right decisions when choosing a partner to help them identify and reach ready-to-buy prospects, 6sense emerged as a leader of the pack. And of the industry.
How this Wave went down
The Forrester Wave conducted a 28-criteria evaluation of predictive marketing analytics providers for B2B marketers. Forrester identified what it calls “the 11 most significant” predictive analytics providers – and researched, analyzed and scored them against these criteria, which include current offerings and capabilities, corporate strategy (think market approach, overall vision, road map and market momentum) and market presence.
So how does this leader board shake out? The Forrester Wave ranks all the vendors in four categories: the leaders are first. Then the strong performers. Next up: the contenders. Followed by the challengers.
Of all the 11 players, 6sense scored the highest overall. And in some categories, even received the highest score possible.
The real reason all this matters? Because, for B2B sales and marketers, it means that we’re well positioned to help you fuel lead generation and conversion. To give you full visibility into who your buyers are, what their needs are and precisely where they are in the buyer’s journey. So you can reach and engage in-market buyers. So you can succeed.
But there’s even more good news – and helpful tips for B2B sales and marketers – coming out of this Wave. Here’s a look at three key takeaways:
Predictive analytics works – Forrester reports a growing demand among B2B marketers because early adopters of predictive analytics are seeing their efforts turn into “real, measurable results.” This Wave also points out that “predictive analytics definitively boosts B2B marketing program results.”
And we don’t have to look too far back to find proof of this. In the recent Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study conducted on behalf of 6sense, Forrester showed that the 6sense predictive intelligence platform delivered a 405% ROI. So yeah, looks like predictive works indeed.
It’s about turning predictions into action – Sure, it’s critical that the data is accurate. That the predictions are spot-on. But this Forrester Wave points out that turning those predictions into action is a key differentiator in the predictive analytics space. So B2B sales and marketing pros, Forrester suggests that you find a provider who can connect data and model outcomes to the next steps you should take. (Good idea.)
The Wave goes on to say that providers who “marry unique insights with tools that more effectively reach and engage in-market buyers will position themselves to successfully deliver unprecedented program efficiency and measurable returns that marketers want.” And guess what? 6sense posted the highest score out of the 11 predictive analytics providers when it came to offerings that give enterprises the “ability to take action.”
Engage, engage, engage – In addition to delivering actionable insights, this Wave suggests that predictive analytics providers should engage fully with B2B sales and marketers in fresh, new ways. They should blend predictive analytics with early-stage client engagement, enable B2B marketers to better engage with buyers across the entire customer lifecycle and (here’s a hot button) help solve what marketers say is their biggest challenge in determining marketing budgets – how to attribute program spend to revenue results. So B2B sales and marketing pros, be sure to put these things on your checklist when searching for a new predictive analytics provider – or when evaluating the one you already have.
Where 6sense scores topped out
Remember earlier when I said that 6sense posted the highest score possible in some categories of this Wave? Well, the perfect scores came in model setup and building (note that model creation affects prediction accuracy the most after data quality and availability) and corporate strategy. Forrester also gave 6sense the highest scores among the 11 providers in multiple other categories, including data source and usage, ability to take action and product roadmap.
Want to learn more?
Get the full Wave report here to see how predictive analytics can help boost your B2B marketing program results. Oh, and PS – you can compare 6sense to other vendors here too.
Want to talk more about the report – and learn how 6sense can help you reach and engage in-market buyers? We’re right here for you.
Want to keep learning about how predictive analytics can help your enterprise? Follow us on Twitter @6senseInc and subscribe to our blog.
If Tina Turner was a B2B marketing or sales leader, she would have sung about the conflicting emotions we all have towards ROI. It’s amazing how three seemingly innocuous letters can create such a headache.
As modern marketers, we’re constantly under more pressure than ever to prove ROI. While most of us support the idea of data-driven decisions, there are still significant gaps between desire and execution. In fact, according to a MMA/Forrester/ANA study, “87% of senior marketers don’t feel confident in their ability to impact the sales forecast of their programs.”
The good news: You’re not alone when it comes to building an effective ROI framework!
The bad news: There is no silver bullet to slay the ROI monster.
So, before we even begin the journey to understanding how to measure and prove ROI, it’s important to discuss exactly what ROI means.
The first step is spelling out the acronym: ROI = Return on Investment. Already we have gone from three letters to 18 – we just 6x’d the length! Forrester then defines ROI as “a measure of a project’s expected return in percentage terms. ROI is calculated by dividing net benefits (benefits minus costs) by costs.”
Putting Forrester’s definition into a mathematical equation looks like this:
(Profit on Incremental Sales + Reduced Costs) / (Total Cost of Ownership)
In theory, this is a simple formula and should be plug-and-play. Unfortunately, we know that’s not reality. Depending on the campaign or initiative, there could be a variety of factors to further complicate the equation.
To simplify the thought process, in the end it boils down to four distinct questions that need to be asked and answered when evaluating any tactic, point solution and platform that you use or are considering implementing:
Will this increase sales and by how much?
How much of the increase in sales is profit?
Will this reduce costs, included time, to close deals and by how much?
What does it cost, including time?
The four questions above deal with the first order or direct impact of the project. There are numerous second or third order impacts that become difficult, if not impossible to track. For example, a marketing initiative may not just help generate new deals, it may help with renewals for existing customers. Or it may even help current customers say good things about your company and its products, influencing the sales process for new customers. These types of benefits are notoriously difficult to measure and, as a finance guy, I would say that you should ignore them in your ROI analysis – you’re probably not going to get credit for them anyway, so don’t spin your wheels!
Here are some pointers on answering the four questions above so that you can calculate a ROI that is defensible and informative.
When determining the impact on sales, find the link between your tactic and any point in the lower half of the demand funnel.
For example, with a digital advertising campaign, don’t try and link it to revenue. We know how hard that can be. Instead, try and link it to an increase in MQLs or another metric you track further up the funnel.
Then, to determine ROI, apply your conversion rates on MQLs and average deal size to determine the revenue impact. While you may not be able to specifically and definitively state that XYZ campaign led to PDQ deal, you can have a good estimate supported by real data.
Determining the profit from your increased revenue number is easy – just ask you finance department!
Ask them for a ‘contribution margin’ on incremental revenue and apply that number to your estimate from step one.
Determining cost savings requires that you be disciplined in how you apply attribution.
For example, we all know a good brand campaign helps close deals faster. However, if you try to specifically quantify this benefit for your ROI calculation or tie it back to actual sales, you can spend a ton of time generating dubious outputs.
Instead, stick with one or two sources of ROI that are defensible. In the brand campaign example, the campaign should accelerate the first stage of a sales process where the sales team is educating the potential customer and looking to expand your reach into multiple members of the ‘demand unit’ or buying committee.
Estimate the number of days a brand campaign can shorten this stage of the sales process and then ask finance how much cost you just took out – and there’s your savings for the ROI calculation.
Figuring out the total cost of a tactic or platform usually falls into three buckets:
The hard costs that show up on your invoice.
The implementation costs you can see such as a third-party implementation fees and the time spent by your team.
The time spent by folks in other divisions within your company.
For the resources outside of sales and marketing, just ask for a cost estimate. By recognizing that IT, for example, expended resources to get a new sales enablement tool up and running, you are not only being intellectually honest, but it demonstrates the rigor of the ROI analysis and helps others believe your ROI numbers are valid.
Finally, there is one more pointer to add – plan in advance! Setting up the ROI metrics in advance and then measuring results continuously will help generate accurate results in a timely manner. Said another way, a little effort upfront saves a ton of time in the end.
ROI in B2B is not going away. In fact, determining ROI is getting increasingly important by the day and we all know it. As Tina Turner might have said, “we might as well face it, we’re addicted to ROI.”
Forrester has built their own framework for calculating ROI: Total Economic Impact reports. Their analysis illustrates the potential return companies may achieve when deploying specific vendors or technologies through an evaluation of benefits, costs, flexibility and risk.
6sense commissioned a TEI report conducted by Forrester and saw striking results from customers. Marketers were able to identify accounts in the market for a specific product or solution, pass leads onto sales and target media campaigns to these in-market accounts resulting in:
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) converting to opportunities at a 75% higher rate
Opportunities converting to closed business at a 40% higher rate
Average deal size jumping 50%
Sales reps closing deals faster, with 20% less effort
As the CFO of a software company, the prospect of attending a three-day B2B marketing conference can be daunting. Where do I fit in amid a sea of marketers? Fortunately, the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit had a little bit of everything for everyone. The highlight for me came from the one person there *seemingly* more out of place than I was – acclaimed singer/songwriter Jewel.
No overnight success – sound familiar?
Jewel was living in a van when she was discovered. One year later, she was opening for Bob Dylan and Neil Young. A few months after that, she was a superstar in her own right – her debut album “Pieces of You” had sold 12 million copies. That type of skyrocketing growth is not something we often see in B2B marketing and sales. Some of us have sales cycles that take longer than Jewel’s rise to fame. Or at least that’s how it seemed at first blush.
But we soon learned that Jewel’s success was the result of many years of hard work leading to her tipping point. She began her musical career at age 6. She learned to yodel while growing up in the Alaskan wilderness – and ultimately played small coffee shops in the San Diego area before her career really took off. So, much like a sales cycle for B2B sales and marketers, building a music career took time.
Becoming a “whole human”
Jewel spoke about something that really stuck with me – the process and desire to become a “whole human.” Every one of us has multiple aspects of our life where we strive to perform and succeed – from career to parenting to other relationships and more. Without success and balance across each of those aspects, every facet of our life suffers as a result – our work, our family life, our physical and mental well-being. Jewel pointed out that when we are not a “whole human,” we are afraid to be entrepreneurs at work. We lose sight of our objectives. We lead less fulfilling lives. So true.
What a four-time Grammy nominee and B2B marketers have in common
During her opening keynote at the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit, Jewel left me with two very clear, compelling and relevant messages:
We need to be confident in ourselves – and push the envelope toward new and better ways to reach our customers and prospects. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s take predictive intelligence as one example of a powerful way to connect with customers and prospects. It helps you find where a customer or prospect is in the buyer’s journey and shows you what their needs are – so you can approach them with the confidence that you are offering the solutions they need. The confidence that you are bringing them something useful. Something that can solve their problems. Something that can make their work – and their lives – easier. Which brings us to Jewel’s next point.
In a conference full of talk about leads, contacts, prospects and customers – we need to remember that we are marketing and selling to humans. We’re dealing with people here, people! People who are forever on the prowl for ways to simplify their lives. Sometimes they’ll be “whole humans,” and sometimes they won’t be. The bottom line is, we can’t lose the human element. Ever. We need to think of B2B more as H2H. Human to human. Here’s why.
Research has shown that B2B purchasing is a highly personal, emotional process. This makes perfect sense when we think about it. B2B buyers are making business-critical decisions for their organizations, so there’s a lot at stake for them: their reputation at work, their opportunity for advancement, perhaps even their job security. B2B buyers are people with families, goals and dreams. Just like I am. Just like you are.
The key is to make a strong personal connections with B2B buyers. How? Show them empathy – and build their trust. Going in with early knowledge and understanding of their problems gives you a leg up. From there, it has never been more important to tell stories that resonate with your customers and prospects on a very real, very personal level. Because their personal feelings will weigh heavily into whether they purchase your product or service – or not.
Remember we’re all human
Last week in Las Vegas, we were 2,500 B2B marketers, 99 vendors, numerous sales people and two CFOs (yes – I found another one there!) gathered to advance the ‘bleeding edge’ of marketing. There was the usual exchange of ideas around technology, tactics and campaigns. But we walked away with the poignant reminder that when you strip all of that away, you’re simply left with humans. Not leads or prospects, not marketers or CFOs. Humans.
Maybe even a human, like me, who finds himself humming, “My hands are small I know, but they’re not yours, they are my own…and I am never broken.”
Buyer visibility impacts every aspect of marketing and sales. Without insight into who your buyer is, what their needs are and what their journey looks like, marketing and sales must expend far more resources to get meaningful results. As the CMO of Box, one of my key responsibilities is to drive continuous improvement across my organization and I knew part of my strategy had to include refining our ability to intelligently target and engage with our customers.
Box is a broad-appeal organization, meaning that our product can be relevant to practically anyone –from the grandmother who needs to store her photos all the way up to the high-end enterprise – we have a massive addressable market at any point in time. This means there are countless potential prospects that require a unique and varied approach to engagement, and each one is at a different stage of their journey. While this is a great problem to have, it’s one that we need to address to truly be efficient in how we market – marketing dollars are not infinite, and we can’t be boiling the ocean.
I’ve said this before, but I truly do believe that as a CMO, I am a business leader who affects the business’ performance through marketing, rather than being a marketer first. Meaningful engagements, solid market identity, compelling content and operationalized processes are all critical aspects of marketing, but creating pipeline and converting that pipeline to revenue to impact the bottom line should always be the overarching goal within marketing.
Flexing Marketing’s Business Muscles
When I joined Box, one of my top initiatives was to build out a marketing tech stack that would not only improve personalization and lead management, but also help us predict and engage the right prospects at the right time. From marketing automation to planning tools to predictive intelligence, we began to adopt bleeding-edge technology to become a more effective, efficient and intelligent marketing organization.
We’ve focused on two key areas to develop our martech stack – the first being to refine our foundational technologies and become experts with our core platforms like Marketo, our CMS, and our core reporting systems. Fortunately, we’re already pretty good with our content management system…The other area we’ve focused on is refining and enhancing our ‘complementary stack,’ the technologies that make our foundational stack more effective and our marketing operations more efficient. This includes technologies like Conversica’s AI-powered sales assistant, Allocadia’s resource planning tools and 6sense’s intent-based predictive platform.
We chose 6sense as our predictive partner for a couple of different reasons: I had previously leveraged them at Dell and witnessed the successes that team was able to achieve; and additionally, they place their focus on intent and timing of the buyer. Because of its ability to feed into every aspect of our marketing strategies – from lead generation, to prioritization, to all things ABM – predictive intelligence has become one of the more exciting avenues that we’ve ventured down. It really does enable us to be more intelligent about everything we do based on an understanding of which customers are in-market and where they are in their journey.
Insights to Guide How We Intelligently Target and Spend
As opposed to telling us who we should target based off of who “looks like” someone we’ve sold to in the past, 6sense actually generates predictions based off of a prospect’s buying intent illustrated by their digital footprint.
By analyzing our potential buyers as they’re doing research – on us, their pain points, our competitors –we can listen to that trace and know who has a need now and turn those signals into demand. 6sense has the ability to leverage the rich trails that our prospects are leaving behind and supply it as a feeder for our marketing systems.
Integrating that into our own database and pairing it with our own data, our marketers are armed with a new level of understanding of the customer. We are working to use these insights to guide how we target and engage with our customers across all channels – in our outbound campaigns, our media target lists, our ABM plays and our events. We’re also able to leverage intent data to refine the message we deliver to customers based on their buyer’s journey stage and are able to maximize ROI by deploying our resources more intelligently to customers that are more likely to convert.
Powerful Predictions Don’t Substitute Good Marketing
While the technology, data and tactics are all components of a successful strategy, I can’t emphasize the need to have the right people and team structure in place to support it all. It takes the human insights gleaned from technology to succeed along with the right content and the right strategy to bring it all together.
In my years as a leader, I’ve learned that it’s all about building a team of the right people and then giving them the tools they need to be successful. The truly successful next-generation CMOs will not only be revenue driven, data driven and business driven, but will always also be people driven.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how Box’s marketing strategies are prioritizing buyer visibility, scaling marketing and sales efforts and ultimately impacting the bottom line, join my session at SiriusDecisions Summit today, May 16 at 2:45 pm.
With all the new technologies that enable B2B marketers to use the sharp minds they were born with, it really is a whole lot more fun than it used to be. There are so many new tools and solutions to geek out about that it’s not surprising Marketing has become one of the largest stakeholders for IT investments in the enterprise. So when PGi decided to shift our strategy from traditional demand generation to an Account-Based-Marketing (ABM) approach, we were excited to go shopping for new tech.
Obviously the core of every ABM strategy is the account list. Since all the outreach activity is tied directly to those accounts, if you don’t choose the right ones, you’re hosed. And if you don’t get your sales and marketing teams aligned on the same accounts, you’re also hosed.
But with literally thousands of companies in our CRM fitting what we thought was our “sweet spot” from a profile standpoint, we realized that to be successful, we’d need data to build the target account list for us.
This is where our partnership with 6sense comes in. Having data that clearly spells out which accounts have the greatest potential to buy makes everyone feel good about the energy and resources invested to engage those accounts.
And when you start seeing results like we have, you wonder why every B2B company isn’t adapting this approach. In just a few short months, PGi is seeing:
58% faster time-to-close
33% lift in win rates
4x the average deal size
Our team employed a full funnel activation strategy and we now have the ability to identify active in-market buyers, reach them at the right time and ultimately measure our success and impact to the entire organization. As we’ve gained a better understanding of our buyers, their needs and timing, there are 3 key areas that we’ve witnessed the biggest impact:
1. Taking the guesswork out of ABM
While it’s not really anything new to have a named account list for sales and marketing to align around, it’s a lot more efficient to start with a pre-qualified list. Customer’s needs and journeys are apt to change any any point in time, so you want to be engaged with that customer when they are in-market. With 6sense’s insights, we now have complete visibility into who we should allocate our marketing resources to and it’s had a huge impact on our revenue outcomes and ROI.
2. Finding in-market buyers to pass to sales
One of the biggest accomplishments we’ve witnessed is having marketing and sales truly speak the same language. Our sales team is now hyper alert during the marketing-to-sales handoff because they understand the quality of the leads they’re being given. Thanks to the unprecedented intelligence we’ve gained about our buyers and their behaviors, our efforts are focused, effective and smarter.
3. Entering sales conversations early and often
All marketing and sales teams across B2B face the similar task of reaching the right buyer at the right time. But for companies in fiercely competitive spaces like us, that struggle is further intensified. Not only must we reach our buyers at a time when they’re in an active buying cycle, we must also reach them first – before they’re swarmed by the competition.
Data-driven decision-making has allowed us to optimize our marketing and sales efforts to increase the speed with which we identify, win and rebook business. In a business where the company who gets to the prospect first has the strongest advantage, pinpointing in-market prospects, finding net-new accounts and increasing sales efficiency has been game changing.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how 6sense has impacted our win rates, deal sizes and pipeline velocity, come hear my presentation at SiriusDecisions’ Summit 2017 on May 16, 2017 at 11:15 AM.
Every marketer is already familiar with the classic Demand Waterfall and has likely implemented the SiriusDecisions framework in varying ways. The Waterfall has become famous for improving visibility into the health of the lead funnel and driving increased revenue from marketing and sales investments. In an effort to ensure further success throughout the entire marketing and sales process, SiriusDecisions has restructured their approach and is announcing their emphasis on the critical need to move the top of the waterfall up the funnel.
This sounds reasonable enough, but what exactly does it mean?
Instead of waiting until a potential buyer “raises their hand” to opt into becoming a lead, marketing and sales must start working on a prospect long before that. SiriusDecisions’ new account-centric approach mirrors our core value proposition at 6sense and makes the recommendation to start with first identifying your Total Addressable Market (TAM), then quickly finding your TAMnow™. TAMnow is the subset of your prospects that are not only a fit for your solution, but are also actively in-market now.
Understanding your TAMnow is crucial to solving the dreaded “90% Problem.” The 90% Problem occurs when there is a greater percentage of buyers participating in a marketing campaign than those who ever actually raise their hand or make themselves known. While this audience consumes 90% of a marketer’s budget, time, and effort – and also plays a significant role in a buying decision – their anonymity makes it difficult to take advantage of the data and analytics that can inform marketing and sales strategy in a more comprehensive, efficient and cost effective way.
This predicament has left marketers in a place where they’re only able to track, measure and derive data value from less than 10% of their spend.
Through a full funnel, time-based demand intelligence strategy, marketers can uncover their TAMnow and discover who their buyers are within the 90%. Marketers can now connect the signals from buyers across all channels to find their TAMnow, gain visibility into their needs and then reach them with the right message – all while measuring the attribution of marketing’s successes and impact.
Join our upcoming presentation at SiriusDecisions Summit to learn:
How to gain full visibility of your buyers across channels
How to find TAMnow
How to execute on a TAMnow, account-centric approach to demand and campaign creation; full funnel activation from brand to demand to closed-won business
How to measure and attribute success of each touch through to revenue
How to leverage this intelligence to look forward and know where to reach your active buyers
How to drive converting in-market revenue and pipeline
How to use this approach to build trust, efficiency and improved metrics across sales and marketing
6sense will cover these topics while referencing examples of organizations who are aligning their demand centers and sales teams to this approach such as Oracle, Google, Cisco, Netsuite, PGi, Arkadin, Panasas, Lenovo, Dell, Box, Qlik and others who have implemented the Next-Generation Demand Waterfall and witnessed success across the entire funnel, including increased pipeline, optimized spend, higher win rates, larger average deal sizes and improved campaign efficiency. Examples include:
PGi: witnessed a 58% faster time to close, lift in win rates and 4x the average deal size
Dell: saw a 3x lift on MQL to SQL conversion, a 2x-6x lift in opportunity size, 50% higher deal sizes, and a 12x return in media spend
Cisco: achieved a 3x higher MQL to SQL conversion rate than any other campaign ever run, 5x higher average opportunity size and 13x more pipeline than three other intent vendors combined
Panasas: experienced 4x lift in account-based marketing media conversions
Register here for the upcoming session at SiriusDecisions Summit 2017!
Calculating ROI has become a requirement for any corporate investment, across all business functions. Gone are the days when B2B marketers could attribute their spend to “branding.” Today, they’re being forced to provide concrete spend-to-revenue analysis to justify their investments in people, technologies – and really, every inch of their marketing efforts.
So the pressure is on (and heavier than ever) for B2B marketers to make super smart decisions about where they put their money. Even if you’re investing in technology that gives you full visibility into who your buyers are, what their needs are and precisely where they are in the buyer’s journey – fueling lead generation and conversion? Yep.
But you can show that your eye is on ROI even before you make a critical investment like this. A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of 6sense shows the potential ROI your enterprise may realize when you deploy the 6sense predictive intelligence platform. And Forrester found that this platform – which uses customer data, third-party web data and predictive algorithms to identify accounts that are researching and ready to buy specific products or solutions – delivers a 405% ROI. Boom.
The study evaluates four components that help enterprises evaluate investment value: benefits, costs, flexibility and risks. To assess the true impact the 6sense predictive intelligence platform can have on an organization, Forrester created a “composite organization” based on interviews with current 6sense customers.
What did Forrester find? Marketers in this composite organization were able to identify accounts in the market for a specific product or solution, pass leads onto sales and target media campaigns to these in-market accounts. The result: The composite company drove incremental profit to the tune of more than $4 million – while reducing the cost of sales and increasing efficiencies.
Check out these results:
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) convert to opportunities at a 75% higher rate
Opportunities convert to closed business at a 40% higher rate
Average deal size jumps 50%
Sales reps close deals faster, with 20% less effort
Oh, and did we mention a 405% ROI?
Walking in the Same (B2B Marketing and Sales) Shoes
The 6sense customers who participated in the Forrester study all oversaw robust demand-generation marketing programs at their individual organizations – and partnered with 6sense to improve the returns on their marketing investments. Each customer used the 6sense predictive intelligence platform to identify net-new, qualified leads at in-market accounts; prioritize existing leads; and target media campaigns to in-market accounts. So much like the rest of our customers, who share similar business goals and leverage predictive intelligence to achieve them.
But don’t just take our word on the power of predictive intelligence in B2B marketing and sales. Here’s what a marketing manager in hardware said about 6sense in the Forrester study: “The quantity and quality of the data was just the start. Their focus is on intent and truly predicting to an outcome. No one else does that.”