Last year’s Demandbase ABM Innovation Summit was going to be all about ABM. That’s what I thought when I arrived to write about it. And yes, there was a day of ABM strategy certification for practitioners, followed by a full day of talks and panels devoted to every aspect of the subject. But what I heard throughout the event was: AI. In fact, in my coverage, I called AI “the beating heart of ABM.”
A year later, it’s safe to assume that practitioners and thought leaders at the upcoming 2018 Summit will dig even deeper into the role advanced algorithms play in two key aspects of cutting edge ABM. First, by enabling brands to personalize content at scale: Selling to accounts still means selling to people, with different skills, interests, and needs at different points in the buying cycle. Second, by expanding the potential market for brands by identifying lookalike accounts — often accounts sales teams might otherwise overlook — which are displaying the behavior and intent which should put them squarely in the cross-hairs, alongside known premium accounts, for marketing and sales purposes.
Chris Golec, founder and CEO of Demandbase, sat down with our own Amy Onorato to talk about how the Summit has evolved, and what to expect this year.
“The conference started about four or five years ago, and it’s a customer’s Summit; it’s really an industry event for thought leadership topics rather than a Demandbase show. It’s one day of best practices from companies ranging from Salesforce.com to healthcare companies. Then we’ll have some analysts present as well. It’s about what’s coming next in ABM. And then there’s a day focused on ABM certification in the workshops. Some small companies have very sophisticated practices in place, while some big companies still don’t know what it is, so we offer this whole certification program. For Microsoft, a couple of years ago, we certified 150 people.”
Another thing to expect at the event is “much richer ABM analytics,” looking at the impact of programs, and tracking from the top of the funnel through to revenue outcomes. Everything is moving faster too. There’s so much real-time intent data coming through Demandbase now, that it can alert customers to when a prospect is researching a competitor product.
One important impact of ABM has been on how marketing team success is measured. “It used to be about MQL’s, click-thru rates, and other things sales didn’t care about. Now it’s about close rates, deal size, and sales cycle. That’s really aligned the sales and marketing teams on the same kinds of metrics.”
Golec sees the “account” as the missing link between sales and marketing. “There’s been very little technology until recently to help people doing B2B marketing focus on accounts.” ABM, Golec believes, has now moved beyond being new, and part of the hype cycle. At this year’s conference, the concentration will be on how to get started and how to do it well. As for the need for ABM: “Sometimes I boil it down to three simple things. Are you attracting the right companies to your site? When they do engage with you online, are they getting the right content? And are you turning that into sales activity.
“If you’re waiting for somebody to fill out a form, you should go home.”
We’ll be joining Demandbase for the ABM Innovation Summit, in San Francisco, April 11-12.
Inside news on the line-up:
Speakers will include tennis star Billie Jean King; Adam Blitzer (Adam Blitzer EVP and GM of Sales Cloud, Salesforce); Elle Woulfe (VP, Marketing LookBookHQ); Michael McLaren (EVP, Merkle); John Hurley (head of product marketing, Radius); and The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi.