Everyone in B2B may be talking about account-based marketing (ABM), but there are some sectors where it’s really important. Take the kinds of subscription and recurring payment solutions offered by Redwood City, Ca.-based Vindicia, just acquired by AmDocs. Acquiring new business means facing an unusual challenge.
Whereas most business involved in B2B sales congregate around specific verticals, a subscription platform finds customers in a wide range of spaces. Kevin Cancilla, the company’s Senior Director of Marketing, explained that the business not only manages subscriptions and recurring payments for its clients, but also offers an agile pricing solution, and thus also plays in the acquisition and retention spaces. There’s a big demand for subscription management in publishing and media for obvious reasons (especially OTT), but consumers subscribe to all kinds of products, from groceries to razor blades. Vindicia clients include Angie’s List, BBC Worldwide, Hearst Digital Studios, and GolfTailor.
The Beginning of the Story
The specific challenge for Vindicia was that new brands built around a subscription models often had a set of solutions in place before revealing themselves to the market. “We went through a process,” Cancilla told me, “first asking which companies were looking to blueprint a subscription-based business, and then asking how we could get early access to them. How could we create awareness with these businesses, when we don’t even know who they are?” Or, indeed, which individuals to connect with.
Brainstorming produced a list of some 1200 prospects, potentially in the market for subscription management. “We looked to see what we had in Salesforce,” said Cancilla, adding “We’re a Salesforce/Marketo shop.” They found about half their list, but were stymied by the difficulty of knowing which individuals within these accounts made the relevant purchasing decisions. “There were so many that could fit our target profiles.”
This was especially the case in media, OTT, and the “catch-all” category of online services—Vindicia’s sweet spot. Decisions about straightforward accounting software are typically made by a CFO, Cancilla said. But for a subscription service: “In the segments we’re targeting, the roles are all over the place. Chief Retention Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, CMO, Solutions Architect. The list,” he said, “is wide, but not deep.”
The Road to Avention
Cancilla’s first experience using a partner to build out these account data-sets in a meaningful way didn’t work out. It was at a Sirius Decisions conference that he fell into conversation with an Avention representative. He’d been getting calls from Avention for some time, but ignoring them. At the conference, he learned for the first time that Avention had previously been One Source Information Services—”well branded and well recognized”—and that was the beginning of the relationship. Vindicia started working with Avention in December 2015.
“Avention came in,” he said. “They did data cleansing. They came up with a whole host of competitors and peers” in addition to Vindicia’s existing prospect list. “We held the line at 1200. We wanted to focus on a discreet set of accounts.” Within the accounts, Avention was able to pick out relevant targets by identifying lookalike roles. “We gave them the spec,” said Cancilla, “and they came back with the data.”
The next step was to integrate Avention’s input with Vindicia’s existing Salesforce data-set. “This gave us the 360 degree view (of the prospects),” Cancilla told me, “and it supported complex segmentation.” The accounts were tagged in Marketo, providing lead scoring, and automated trigger alerts for the sales team in response to account activity. Vindicia splits sales activity between field reps (Account Executives) responsible for face-to-face selling, and sales development representatives (SDRs) responsible for qualifying and incubating leads. On the basis of the Avention insights, Cancilla was able to incentivize SDRs to drive activity around what were identified as “prime” accounts.
As has often been said, the concept of ABM is nothing new. Cancilla acknowledged this, but added: “The technology accelerates our ability to get insight into this process.” Avention provides “drill down capabilities, exposing the individuals we want to connect with.”
It has helped identify “net new opportunities, and this has been huge. The guys on my team are exceeding their numbers. Our product to the company has gone up exponentially, and we’re seeing record pipelines.”