20 November 2023
Jack Rawlings & Josh Weale ▪︎ Heads of ABM
Building your dream tech stack is arguably one of the most exciting aspects of setting up your ABM program. But it's important to not get shiny object syndrome! In this episode, Jack and Josh go under the hood of building the 'perfect' ABM tech stack.
Josh is a Head of ABM, leading the development of innovative strategies to help enterprise tech businesses win, grow and retain their most important accounts. With a background in journalism and several years of client-side experience, he works with Sales and Marketing teams to help them succeed.
Jack Rawlings is a seasoned Marketer with experience in both B2C and B2B worlds. In his role as a Head of ABM at strategicabm, he works with Marketing and Sales teams of leading B2B tech brands to develop impactful ABM strategies to meet their growth objectives.
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Building your ABM tech stack is arguably one of the most rewarding but challenging steps of setting up your ABM program. The truth is that your tech stack has the power to make or break your entire Account-based Strategy. It's up to you to make the right decisions.
In this episode of ABM Under the Hood, Jack and Josh dive into the nitty gritty details of building the 'perfect' ABM tech stack, the dos and don'ts, and how to set the right foundations for success.
Jack Rawlings (strategicabm) – Hi there, and welcome to another episode of ABM Under the Hood. My name's Jack Rawlings and I'm joined again today by my colleague, Josh. Hi, Josh.
Josh Weale (strategicabm) – Hey, Jack.
Jack (strategicabm) – So today's episode, we're going to be talking all about tech stacks, in terms of different technologies and tools that are available on the market for ABM programs and activities, things that maybe are related directly to ABM, or some things that are slightly more, kind of, adjacent to it. And specifically, kind of, trying to define what we think of as our, kind of, base-level tech stack that's needed for an ABM program, versus a, kind of, maybe more sort of scaled-up tech stack. And then, kind of, like, what maybe a gold-tier, like top-of-the-range, if you had all the budget available-type tech stack would be.
And I think the one thing that's kind of really important to talk about before we jump into it is just how, essentially, when we talk about tech in this sense, it's not to, kind of, conflate it with ABM itself. And I think that's something that sometimes people do kind of get stuck on, is that it's absolutely necessary to have a certain level of technology in order to be able to do ABM effectively.
And actually, you know, hopefully what we can kind of show today when we jump into it is that even with some of the kind of, that more, sort of, rudimentary side of the, kind of, tech stack picture, there's still a lot of impact and effectiveness that you can gain from it.
So, just to, kind of, add that caveat at the beginning. But in terms of, I guess thinking about that sort of more basic side of the scale, what would you say, Josh, is a, kind of, minimum viable tech stack for an ABM program? Is there a specific, kind of, set of tools or types of tools that you would have in mind at that kind of level?
Josh (strategicabm) – So yeah, I would say to add to kind of add to your point, I think exactly what you said for a basic, kind of, pilot ABM program, it's important not to get too carried away with technology.
We have a motto at the Agency, really, which is: "Strategy first, technology second." And we kind of always try and talk about that with clients who are in the early stages of setting up an ABM program. Specifically if they don't have, kind of, ABM technology in place already, or they're fairly new to kind of ABM.
Because obviously, one of the things that we see a lot is people think that ABM is just intent data, programmatic display ads aligned to that intent data and you need those, need all of that to be able to actually do it in a sophisticated way. Ultimately, you can go to market and engage with accounts in a very rudimentary, basic way, just if you've got their email addresses and email marketing platform – you can still engage with them in an ABM way. And by that I mean personalized communication, tailored, kind of, value proposition. You can still do that with something as simple as just a list of emails and an email platform.
But in terms of a pilot program and essentially what you need, you need to be able to, kind of, have a way of understanding the accounts that you're trying to target. You at least need to be able to get the basic details about them.
And that could be something as simple as just LinkedIn and understand who you're trying to reach, and using LinkedIn's, kind of, native targeting to just understand who are the stakeholders that you're trying to reach. You need to be able to, kind of, execute a campaign. So that could be simple, kind of, paid advertising; it could be, as I said, email marketing platform. Some form of, kind of, marketing automation is helpful within a pilot program, so it's not everything has to be done manually. But, I know a lot of people say that the, kind of, magic of ABM is that not everything is automated.
So yeah, you need to be able to know who you're going after, you know how you are going to actually reach them and engage with them. And you also need to know how you're going to report on them, and report on that activity.
And a lot of the time we can get too caught up on needing, kind of, expensive reporting solutions and being able to build really, kind of, amazing dashboards. And it's great if you can do that and you've got the technology to do that. But ultimately, to do that in the most basic sense, is you need a CRM that tells you: Has this account engaged with the campaign? How many people from this company have engaged with the campaign? And can that output, kind of, information that can then be analyzed to know, what was the account status before the campaign, and then what is it after the campaign?
So yeah, three things: you need to know who you're going after; how you're going to reach them; and how you're going to report on it.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's a really, really good simple, kind of, methodology for that initial sort of setup pilot phase of a program. And I think, you know, arguably I've seen it done where you don't actually even use a CRM for that. If you've got spreadsheets and time – and it really does require time – then you can do it all very manually in spreadsheets, right?
But obviously, yeah, as soon as you bring a CRM into the mix, some of those slightly more manual tasks are automated and taken, you know, taken off your plate. I do think that what level of, kind of, automation you opt for in the early days will depend very much on the type of program – ABM program – that you're running.
So, if you are going for a One-to-many ABM program to start with, then you're probably going to want to lean more towards bringing in some of those, kind of, automation tools – whether that is marketing automation, you know, within a CRM, or whether it's a separate tool, potentially looking at, you know, ad platform stuff as well that can target, you know, by data, IP, cookie – whatever kind of data you want to feed into it.
But I think, if you're doing a One-to-few or a One-to-one program, it might, you might be better served to spend your money, your budget, on potentially things like personalization tools, you know, things that help you with developing content. So, I'm thinking of tools like Folloze or Turtl – these kind of platforms that create what feel like incredibly personalized experiences for, at an account level, but actually, you know, are reasonably easy to scale across multiple accounts. That kind of tool, potentially, if you're going down the One-to-few or One-to-one route, might be more valuable because you're talking about a smaller number of accounts, you don't necessarily need that, kind of, mass marketing automation-type tool, you know, for email sends or whatever it might be.
So I think there is a consideration there depending on which type of program you are going to be running to begin with.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah I completely agree.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, and so, in terms of, kind of, where the difference between this, kind of, stage of like a basic, kind of, MVP tech stack and the next level up. Like what, is there anything that you would say is lacking that, you know – if in an ideal world you would bring it in in the early days, but if you don't have the budget you can do without – is there anything of that ilk?
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, I would say the big, kind of, game changer once you get, kind of, past that initial pilot phase – or even if you can bring it into the pilot phase – but if we're talking about how do you go from a basic tech stack to kind of a more sophisticated tech stack, I think the big game changer there is intent data. If you can connect a third-party intent data source that helps you to, kind of, direct your resource that you have, and use it in a more efficient way, I think that can make your ABM program, kind of, soar really.
Because it means that you're being, kind of, a lot more focused on the signals that you're getting from the market, because otherwise you have to figure that out manually through first-party intent data and sending, kind of, campaigns out and seeing what the response is. And third-party data can help you.
And just a caveat to say that it shouldn't be used as the only, kind of, source of information when you're considering, kind of, who you're going to go after, but it's a massive, kind of, driver for being able to be more efficient, with what you're doing and targeting the people who are more likely to engage.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, absolutely. I think it, yeah, it comes down to being able to, it helps you prioritize your efforts better. It's a signal – it's a strong signal. I think the ideal, you know, the sweet spot really is some combination of first- and third-party intent data, as well as having, you know, the research, desktop research and other insights, kind of, done as well on the accounts. I think that all combined is where you're going to see the real impact.
But in that sort of scale-up phase, as you say, like what will take it from a kind of, you know, an early days, kind of, pilot program into a more scaled-up, effective, kind of, machine of an ABM you know, motion is going to be bringing intent data into it.
And you might also consider second-party intent data at this point as well, or second-party data, depending on how you want to, kind of, define it, but you know, something like, you've got, it's called Dealfront now – it used to be Leadfeeder – and there's LeadLander. There's lots of other tools, Snitcher, couple of other tools like that, that essentially you plug into your site and you can get a view of the accounts that are engaging that you might otherwise not have a view of. You might not be able to see them through, you know, Google Analytics or whatever. You can see these accounts on your, you know, active on your site, which pages they're visiting, et cetera.
So, that's also a good one if you've got – they tend to be quite cheap as well, you know, relatively speaking. So potentially bringing second-party data into the mix reasonably early on, or just as you're about to start scaling up, I think is potentially a good idea as well.
So then, if we were to kind of move into that next phase then. So we've kind of got from, we've set up our pilot program, maybe we're like six months, three to six months into an ABM program. We've started to see a few, kind of, positive signals and results coming through. We've got the basics, the fundamentals kind of set up. What's the next, kind of, stage of tech that we would be looking at when you're kind of scaling up, maybe thinking about, you know, the next year of activity of an ABM program? What tools, or types of tools, would we be potentially thinking about at that stage?
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think at that stage you're looking at, kind of, the big ABM platforms, things like Demandbase, Terminus, 6Sense – orchestration tools that can connect everything together and really, kind of, drive home the value of intent data and the approach of an ABM program. Because yeah – there's still, before you have tools like that in place, there's still, kind of, a level of manual, kind of, orchestration and trying to tie things together, making sure that campaigns go out when they need to go out.
And there's a lot of, kind of, challenges to overcome in terms of timings and how things work in a campaign scenario. But having, kind of, these ABM platforms in place that are actually connected with all of your data sources, they're automated and they're able to, kind of, establish campaign cadences on a cycle that makes sense for the target audience that you're trying to reach – it can really help you just do a lot more and cover a lot more ground and learn a lot quicker.
Obviously a big, big part of an ABM program is about testing, learning, understanding what resonates within the target audience that you're trying to reach and the target accounts. And these tools can really, kind of, accelerate and amplify that. So yeah, I would say from my perspective, that's, kind of, where you're getting into, kind of, gold-standard territory.
And yeah, from the clients that I've worked with in the past, there is one risk to that and it sometimes is that people can treat these kind of tools as a golden bullet, or silver bullet I should say.
And it's really important that an investment of that size is considered and it's thought through around, going back to the point around strategy first, technology second. It's really important that before you actually make that investment into a platform like that, that you consider: How does it fit in with the bigger picture? How does it fit in with the existing strategy? And it doesn't become the strategy that your idea is, "I'm just going to upload some display ads and start to bombard all the target accounts, and hope that something comes back through the other end." It has to be thought through, it has to be, kind of, considered in terms of: Where does it fit in? What is the input? What is the output that I'm expecting? And taking that, kind of, methodical approach to integrating it into the rest of your ABM program.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I completely agree. I mean the other thing, the other side of that as well is – and I've seen it with clients, with businesses – where they invest in this technology and actually then it lays either dormant or just underused in their overall picture, because it's potentially too advanced for them at the stage that they're at in their ABM growth or ABM journey, right?
So, you have people that are maybe looking at, they've got the budgets for these things and they're looking at investing in this technology, but don't really fully understand its capabilities, or where it will fit in the wider, sort of, channel mix, as you say.
And so then, you know, invest in it month zero, month three, month six, whatever it might be. And actually they're not really ready for it, and then it's just, kind of, a big expensive, sort of, you know, white elephant, I suppose. And it doesn't really have any, kind of – if anything it can actually be a negative. I've seen it be a negative, you know? Net negative on programs, because of the way it's then perceived by the wider business.
If they've been sold this tool that's going to, kind of, transform the ABM program and really, you know, build out and scale the activities and then it's kind of left on the sidelines. The perception is that that's ABM's fault, that ABM just doesn't work for whatever reason, because that tool's not worked or it hasn't been set up right. It hasn't been used effectively.
And actually that, I think, is one of the big dangers – particularly when you get into that kind of enterprise space. I think, you know, I'm probably – this kind of anecdote that I'm talking about here, so people working in sort of small and medium-sized businesses are probably thinking, how? There's no way that I'd be able to buy a tool of that value and not use it! But it does happen at the enterprise level where people have these budgets that they can just, kind of, spend on those tools that then don't get used or set up correctly.
So I think, yeah, if you are in the early stages, I would actually – unless you really know what you're doing and you've done this before multiple times, you know, if you've been there and done it before with other programs or other companies – I would probably hold off for a while on these, kind of, orchestration tools, automation tools. Because they can actually be more trouble than they're worth in the early stages, I would say.
Josh (strategicabm) – I think the other thing, as well, on that point is about training and, kind of, how the tool is – or the overall tech stack – is spoken about in the wider business. I had a conversation with a client recently, and we were talking about, kind of, metrics and they, in particular, they were using 6Sense and we were talking about, well how is 6Sense positioned within the wider business? And it was a case that they hadn't just gone through a process of, "We've just purchased 6Sense and then just immediately started campaigning."
First of all, they did, kind of, a preemptive internal campaign with the rest of the business of, kind of, educating them on what 6Sense could do, what it couldn't do; talking about, kind of, the specific terminology within the platform and what it means, particularly for the people who are impacted by it, in terms of Sales teams knowing how to follow up on intent signals that are coming through from campaigns. And really making sure that before they launched, kind of, big campaigns through the platform, that everybody who was, kind of, around the campaign completely understood what the purpose was, what the objective of using the tool was and what, kind of, the specific terminology was. So that, when the campaign was launched, it was much more likely that there'd be success around it and it didn't become what you described as that, kind of, white elephant.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, and I think that's absolutely spot on. 'Cause essentially what we're talking about is demystifying the tool and its use case, right? I think there's a temptation for people in ABM – for Marketers, particularly in ABM – that will be to, with some of these tools, to kind of almost keep them a bit hidden, almost, kind of their baby, you know, they want to own it.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Jack (strategicabm) – And not really, kind of, share it. I guess partly due to concern around like misuse of it, or misunderstanding, misappropriation, you know, potentially even contamination of the data and things like that.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Jack (strategicabm) – Which you see, you know, you definitely see the more people get involved in these things, that can happen. But I think you have to have that level of openness with the wider business about what it's being used for, how it's used, what the specific, kind of, you know, methodology and system that you've got in place for it is, what the outputs are going to be, all of that kind of stuff.
Because otherwise, they either view it as something that's irrelevant to them and therefore they're not going to bother. And when you do want to get their buy-in or you do want to get their, kind of, thoughts and input on it, they're not interested. Or, they'll view it as this, kind of, special, you know, magical thing that sits over in the corner that must do something amazing 'cause of the amount of money that was invested and the ABM team are, you know, always going on about it, but not really sure what it does.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Jack (strategicabm) – And you kind of want to avoid both of those scenarios. You want to make it so that it's like very clear: This is what it does, this is what it doesn't do, you know, and this is what we are going to, you are going to get from it, in whatever role that is – if you're in Sales or Customer Success or whatever it might be.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, you actually touched on something there as well, which has brought something else to mind, a light bulb went on in my head when you said the word 'data.'
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – Because all of what we're talking about here, in terms of your most basic tech stack through to, kind of, the most advanced tech stack, all of it only works if you've got the right data.
So, it's super important that before, kind of, even embarking on an ABM program, that there's been, kind of, due diligence on all of your, kind of, CRM data or just databases of accounts that you're trying to target, and making sure that what you're putting into these tools is clean, it's relevant, it's valid, because otherwise you can very quickly spend a lot of money and waste a lot of budget on targeting accounts on the back of bad data.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – But just along those kinds of lines, I suppose from your perspective and your experience, kind of, what are some of the other bigger challenges, like data and that kind of thing, when it comes to successfully implementing an ABM tech stack?
Jack (strategicabm) – For me, I think probably the big one that I see a lot of – so it kind of, this sort of goes hand in hand with the data side of things – is setting up the platforms correctly for an ABM program, for an ABM motion.
So for example, with a CRM, it may well be that you're going to need to set up some new custom fields, or you're going to need to get data integrations set up correctly, you know, bringing the data in from whatever platforms that you are using, you know, campaign platforms, et cetera. It might be that you need to set up specific reporting, you know, dashboards or ways of using the data.
And having that – it's not necessarily that you have to have it completely all set up before you go into market – but, the more refined and clear you are about it before you go into market, the better. Because I think you will end up potentially losing some of that real-world data if you haven't, if you've not set up your tools in such a way that they can actually collect it and track it. You know, by the time you've realized it's three months down the line and actually it's just too hard to get hold of that data now, because it's, you know, it's just kind of gone into the ether.
And so, I would say having a real sort of solid view of what an ABM version of that tool or that platform looks like for you and your business, and then getting it as close to that as possible, you know, beforehand and then during the program I think is absolutely essential.
And I think the same goes for things like campaign platforms as well, because certain platforms that you use can be used in multiple use cases, not necessarily just ABM, right? So, things like LinkedIn ads and whatever else – it's worth having all of these, kind of, tools and platforms set up in such a way that there's a real clear delineation between the ABM activities and the other activities that you're doing, if you are doing other activities.
Having that kind of clear mode of attribution in mind as well – not because you want to necessarily be, you know, trying to suggest that ABM is taking credit for everything or whatever it might be. But more so to be able to really just clearly demonstrate what ABM impact, what impact it is having and what it isn't having.
So yeah, having those, kind of, the campaign platform set up in such a way that the data can then flow into the right places, usually the CRM and the other, you know, the other ad platforms or whatever, is, I think, really important.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, having that really, kind of, clear view of what the reporting structure is going to look like as well. So that, to your point exactly, is like the last thing that you want to be doing after you've run a campaign is having to troll through spreadsheets and troll through, kind of, individual contact records or account records within your systems to try and figure out, what actually happened. If you've done the hard work up front and set out, kind of, this is how we're going to report, then it just makes everything a lot easier in that context.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, completely agree. And so, I think, you know, we touched on it earlier, when it comes to training and the sort of, you know, maybe expanding the use or at least awareness of these platforms into the wider business. Would you say there's anything different at those different, kind of, stages from a sort of basic level to, kind of, scaling up to, you know, the sort of gold tier? Is there any, kind of, considerations around training or how you would recommend people use it or roll it out to people in the wider business at those different stages?
Josh (strategicabm) – I think it's about aligning it to, kind of, the stage of sophistication in the actual ABM program.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – Because if you're running a pilot program, which is very, kind of, focused around small, kind of, test-and-learn experiments, trying to understand, kind of: What are we going to do? And how are we going to scale it up? And building that foundation, I think at that stage you can, kind of, get by with just involving the people who are actually directly involved.
But as, naturally as, kind of, the ABM program begins to scale and more and more people become aware of it and become aware of, kind of, the impact that it's having and the results that it's driving, curiosity takes over and you're going to start getting questions from more and more different teams, different people who want a piece of the action.
So, I think it's at that stage when you start to scale up that you have to make sure that you've kind of got all your ducks in a row in terms of being able to say, "Well, this is what we are doing today. This is what our tech stack looks like. This is the, kind of, inputs and this is what we're getting out of it. This is how we're driving results today - and what those results are."
But then having that kind of storytelling element to be able to say, "And this is what it could look like in 12 months' time or 18 months' time", and being able to, as kind of the lead ABMer, kind of, build that narrative within the business and say: "Yeah, we are doing great at the moment, but if we had X, Y, and Z...", and you can start to unlock a little bit more budget, it only, kind of, helps to grow, kind of, the awareness of the ABM program really, and generate buy-in for the ABM program.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's, yeah, I think that's absolutely spot on.
So, I guess one sort of final question from my side, what would you say – I think, something that I think people are going to potentially ask a lot is: How do I know when it's time to bring in a new tool? You know, it's not as linear as to say, how do I know when to go from a basic tech stack to a scaled-up tech stack to a gold tier? 'Cause it's, you're never going to go in that, kind of, you know, that way; it's going to be a lot more, kind of, zigzag. But, what would you say is, are the, kind of, key points or milestones, either time-wise or, you know, in practice in the actual program, when that's a clear sign that it's time to bring in a new tool?
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Jack (strategicabm) – Obviously it's going to depend a little bit on the type of tool that we're talking about, right? But anything that sort of springs to mind there?
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, no, it's kind of the classic example, is it depends.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – Because there's so many variables: it's what budget you have available, what accounts are you trying to reach, how complex are the accounts? If you're, kind of, going after massive enterprise businesses, then you may need a level of sophistication that you don't currently have. And if you find that you're trying to, kind of, research and engage with these businesses and you're just not getting to where you need to, then maybe that's a trigger to think: Well, do I need to invest in something that's going to help me unlock those doors?
But yeah, I mean, I don't, I don't see there being, kind of, a linear process, it's just once you start to feel that you're not getting everything that you can out of the existing tools that you have, then maybe that's when you can start to build it out.
And also it comes down to playing out the, kind of, efficiency gains, because if you are a small ABM team, maybe just one ABMer – maybe you've got a few people who are on the ABM team – you can do so much, but we've all only got so much time in the day. And if it starts to get to the point where you are working back-to-back all day and you're starting to feel that you need additional help, then it could be that there are tools out there that you can invest in to actually start to scale, and do it in an efficient way.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – So, that's another trigger that could be taken into consideration is just around efficiency gains in terms of, would investing in the tool allow me to do more with the time I've got today?
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, it's leverage, isn't it? It's finding a way to, kind of, two times, three times, five times, ten times, whatever, the amount of hours that you've got in a day, essentially, by investing.
But, and I guess the other consideration that you could, you can factor in as well is the value, the ROI of investing in these tools, right? It's not necessarily a simple calculation to do, there's quite a lot of factors that you have to, kind of, put in and some of it's going to be somewhat subjective as well, you know, depending on how much you value your time and things like that, or your team's time.
But there are calculations you can do to kind of say: Right, well if this tool helps me do X, whether that, you know, whether that's send ten times more emails, or whether that's, you know, engage ten times more accounts or engage accounts in ten times a better way. You know, however you define that. That kind of calculation can be then weighed up against the, you know, the cost of the tool.
And likewise, you know, you could even go as far as actually starting at revenue and saying like: By having this tool, it's going to actually get me this amount in closed-won pipeline based on, you know, based on the different stages that it's going to help me out, you know, progress through.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think the other thing to consider is around the program type, as well, because as we, kind of, touched on at the start, you can in theory do One-to-one ABM with a fairly low-cost, low-maintenance tech stack, because you're only having to focus on one account. And a lot of the, kind of, resource there goes into research, which is not necessarily reliant on at-scale technology.
But if you suddenly find that you are seeing success with One-to-one and One-to-few ABM programs, it may become a business imperative to start looking at how can we scale it to a One-to-many? And that may actually be the trigger that all of a sudden you need to start thinking at scale.
And when you're doing things at One-to-one, it's not so easy to just apply that to hundreds, up to thousands of accounts. So yeah, that's another area where it's really important to consider, well, can a tool actually help me achieve that?
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, it's a good point, yeah.
And we've got a couple of questions from the community on LinkedIn. So, the first one is around the, kind of, best value for price, kind of, platforms in terms of ABM, specifically with a focus on, kind of, the pilot phase versus, you know, more mature ABM programs. That's from Tanya at Criteo.
And I think it is a really good question because, specifically in that, kind of, differentiation between the pilot and the, kind of, scaled-up program, what is going to bring the most value? And I think, you know, we've touched on it a little bit, and I think, would you agree probably, pound for pound, it's going to be intent data, right? Bringing that into the mix.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, I would agree with that. I think, ultimately, the way that we look at the technology stack, is that there's different tiers within every, kind of, category of tool that you could need. Like, you can get intent data and pay, I don't know, £500 a month, or you can get intent data and pay £50,000 a month depending on, kind of, what you actually need and how sophisticated you need the platform to be in terms of what happens with that intent data next.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – So, I find it difficult to answer the question based on the value alone, because the value is subjective to, kind of, where you're at in your program and what you're actually trying to achieve.
But when we're, kind of, talking about how does it progress from a pilot program into, kind of, a more sophisticated, mature ABM program, I would say absolutely intent data, but also that orchestration element and automation element. Ultimately, the thing that you can't buy is time. And if you can do more with technology than you can without, then, particularly when you're talking about at-scale programs, then that you can't really put a price on that if it's driving results.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah, that's a good point, it's a very good point.
We've got another question, from Madhu Sudan: Which is the role of the tech stack in terms of how it can ease the reporting side of things, and listening capabilities?
I mean, I think those are kind of two separate points, listening, like potentially social listening or, you know, having a view of what the accounts are, kind of, engaging with. But then particularly on the reporting side, I do think we're going to need to do a whole separate episode on reporting, it's a much bigger topic than can be covered, you know, on just a single question like this.
But, would you say there's much differentiation between the kind of reporting that's needed in those different types of tech stacks or stages? You know, if you have a basic level of reporting, versus a scale-up, versus a, kind of, top standard. Is there any kind of differences?
Josh (strategicabm) – I don't see there being differences in the principles. I think, ultimately you're still trying to report on, kind of, account engagement.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – Qualifying those accounts and understanding. Where it becomes more difficult to do is when your, kind of, campaign's becoming a lot more sophisticated. You've brought more channels into the mix and you've got different data points, different data sources that you need to gather all in one place and translate into something meaningful.
Because it's no use, really, having, kind of, a load of LinkedIn campaign data that says an account's doing X, Y and Z on LinkedIn if it's in a silo, and you can't actually marry that up to what's happening with your email campaigns or...
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – ... or with your programmatic campaigns. So, I think really that the role of the tech stack in all of that, kind of, context is about bringing everything into one place, as clichéd as it is, bringing it into a single source of truth, and empowering the ABMer to actually make decisions and use that data as a guide, really, for how they're going to progress the campaign and optimize the campaign.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Josh (strategicabm) – So that's kind of how I view it, is it's about, kind of, the sophistication doesn't really make that much difference in terms of the principles. It's about – the principles remain the same – it's just about how complicated it is to actually achieve what you're doing.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, and I think, you know, at the basic level, potentially, when it comes to reporting, you are able to do a lot of it manually, because you might maybe only have a few channels in market. And so, in terms of bringing those data sources into a single source of truth, as you say, is something that could be done reasonably easily. I'd say it's still quite time intensive, but it's an easy enough thing to do manually, right?
So you're, you know, whether that's into your CRM or even into your spreadsheets or whatever, or a reporting, you know, dashboard tool. When it gets more complex, when you start adding more, either more accounts, you know. Maybe you're running multiple ABM programs at once, maybe you've got, you know, different products that you are doing campaigns for, maybe you've got just more channels that you're running. That's where I would say it's then, it becomes really, really useful to have a reporting tool or a tool that can combine all of that data in a more automated way.
You know, there are things that you can use that plug into your CRM, for example, that will, kind of, bring the data in, you can do it with APIs and things like that. But a way to kind of more, you know, in an automated fashion, bring that data into a single view, I think is a huge benefit as you grow in an ABM program.
But actually, for me, I prefer to start with doing it manually, I think it's better to start, first of all, get gathering that data manually. If you're starting from zero, start gathering that data manually because then you've got a really clear picture of where it's all coming from, you know, what the sources are, why you're collecting it, is it actually relevant for you to be collecting it?
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah.
Jack (strategicabm) – If you start with the automation, sometimes you're collecting stuff that's just, you're just collecting it for the sake of collecting it, you know? So I think having a manual, doing it manually to start with gives you that real, it shows you what's worth prioritizing, what data's worth prioritizing, essentially. And then you can scale it up with the automation afterwards.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, and that's a really good point because ultimately, what we're talking about here is, what does the rest of the business see value in it? And if you've got a dashboard and a report that's got hundreds of metrics in it, but the only thing that someone cares about is: Well, what does that mean from revenue? Then all of those metrics suddenly become, kind of, obsolete because they're not telling the story.
So, you always have to – within an ABM mindset – you always have to apply that, kind of, narrative storytelling approach to everything that you do, to be able to, kind of, make it meaningful to the business. So yeah, that's a really good point as well.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, absolutely. Good stuff, well, we've got another asset that we will be sharing alongside this episode, which is a tech stack guide. So, kind of, breaking down along the lines of what we've been discussing today, these, kind of, basic and then more like scaled-up and gold tier-type tech stacks, with some examples of different tools that you can potentially look at investing in as well. You know, what the use cases are for these tools, when to potentially consider bringing them in, all of that kind of stuff. So that will be shared as a link alongside this episode.
I hope you found it valuable and useful today, and thanks very much, Josh, for chatting with me and looking forward to catching up again soon.
Josh (strategicabm) – Yeah, thanks for having me, Jack.