strategicabm

Getting started with ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM we chat with Nick Bennett, Director of Field Marketing, North America at Logz.io, on getting started with Account-based Marketing.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-03-29 strategicabm 550 60

Nick Bennett
Director of Field Marketing, North America | Logz.io

Image of Nick Bennett

Nick is Director of Field Marketing, North America, at Logz.io, a SaaS company pioneering cloud-based log analysis services. He’s a personal branding advocate involved in B2B SaaS marketing, brand building, and revenue growth. Nick has recently launched an ABM program at Logz.io and has delivered some fantastic results in a very short space of time.

Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the strategicabm brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.


Watch this webinar and learn:

  • Why Logz.io launched an ABM strategy
  • What challenges they have faced
  • What the future looks like for Logz.io
  • Why Social Selling is so important for Nick Bennett
Read the full transcript

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Getting started with ABM

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Okay, so today I'm joined by Nick Bennett, Director of Field Marketing at Logz. Nick, thanks for joining us today.

Nick Bennett (Logz) - Thanks for having me.

Declan (strategicabm) - So Logz, tell us a little bit about the company and the problems that you're trying to solve for your customers?


Nick (Logz) - Yeah, so we're a cloud observability platform for modern engineering teams. So basically, our platform consists of three products and we're actually this week launching new products, but the three that were kind of the core were log management, infrastructure monitoring, and cloud SIM. So they work together to basically unify the jobs of monitoring, troubleshooting and security for engineering teams. And so we empower the engineers to deliver better software by kind of offering them the world's most popular open source observability tools, like ELK Stack or Fonder and Yeager, in a single, easy-to-use, powerful platform built for monitoring distributed cloud environments.

Declan (strategicabm) - And how long have you been around for, as a company?

Nick (Logz) - So it's been, I forget the exact year, maybe like 2014 I believe - it hasn't been a crazy amount of time.

Declan (strategicabm) - And so, how has the growth been achieved to date? What have you used in terms of strategies to date?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, honestly, it's interesting because we actually just announced a new series of funding last week. So another $23 million, so we've actually raised $74 million over the last 18 months, which is tremendous growth. And I think a lot of it kind of comes back to our core and what we do.

We're based in Tel Aviv, Israel but we also have a Boston office, and we have a ton of customers that just kind of - our CEO is an engineer at heart, same with our other Co-founder, they're both engineers - so they have a pretty big following in the community. And I think that that's what has grown us. And it's interesting because, you know, when I joined, I've only been here for about two and a half months now but we haven't had any real Demand Gen from November of 2019 until probably June of this year, just because we had a CMO that left, some of the Marketing members left. And then my boss was the VP of Demand Gen. She didn't start until May or June. So there was a big gap of really not having anything on the Demand side.

However, our customer base still grew through the roof and we do a lot through our free trial app. We convert a lot of our users from the free app to a paid conversion. And that's honestly how we've grown and then basically upsell from there.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, and we were talking earlier, actually, I saw a LinkedIn post that you published the other day where you were talking about launching an ABM program. And you mentioned, I think in the post that you had launched it within two months. I'd love to go into a little bit more detail about that and learn a little bit more about your approach, what you did.

One thing that you mentioned actually in the post was that one of the reasons behind starting an ABM program was you were looking to prioritize where you're spending your time. So can you tell us a little bit more about the thinking behind the ABM program?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, absolutely, so, you know, it's interesting, the industry that we sell to - developers and engineers - I've actually never marketed to this industry before. It's completely new to me. But the one thing that I found out very quickly within the first week of being here is engineers and developers hate talking to Marketing and Sales people. And so, you know, they would rather be fed the information, play around with it, and if it's something that they think provides value to them and their company, then that's how you convert it.

And so ABM kind of came to mind as, okay, if we can serve up personal and optimized ads and just different programs that are meant for this type of ICP, we would see, usually, like a 26% larger deal size, 32% faster average time to close. And to be honest, we actually have a pretty quick time to close where we can close most deals in one to two months, and even the bigger, commercial side of our customer base. So that was the big thing for us.

The other piece of it was our SDRs. They've always prospected at the lead level. And so this whole undertaking was important because in order for ABM to be successful, you still do the lead level prospecting, but you also need to prospect at the account level. And so that was basically a brand new kind of thing for the team and so we had to implement a ton of back-end processes around Salesforce reporting. We use 6sense for our intent data and we use Influ2 to serve up a lot of personalized ads as well. And so we had to configure a lot of the back-end pieces to make sure that the distribution process was working properly, to make sure that we had everything in place - because when I say there was nothing in place, there was literally nothing in place.

And it's then also developing with Sales their top account lists, so that was another thing. Sales didn't have a target list. They basically went after anyone that was in their territory. And so, as you can imagine, how do you prioritize around that? It's like, you know, if anything comes in, if an SDR passes a lead that might be an account, it's just one lead from an account that could have hundreds or thousands of employees - you're not multi-threaded within the account. You don't have the ability to influence all the members of a Buying Team when you're working off of just one lead versus the actual account.

So that was our whole thinking about it. And it came together pretty quick. Sales were on board. Our SDR team was on board, they're okay. We did a few small tests to make sure that they could actually prospect at the account level, how they would get those leads into those accounts within Salesforce. And so far, honestly everything's been moving, so it's still pretty early but I feel confident.

Declan (strategicabm) - So Nick, talk to us a little bit about the planning - obviously you've been running the ABM program now for two months approximately, but what kind of planning did you go through to get to where you are today?

Nick (Logz) - Yes, so I think it was important to, one, get the SDR team on board with, you know, account-level prospecting. And on top of that, we're going through a lot of change with growth. So we're actually expanding our SDR team. So it's not only working with the current SDRs but we have new ones constantly coming on board too, that we then have to kind of ramp up with everything.

So the way that we're planning is we have a few different tiers. And so we're basing this off tier one, which is basically our Sales defined long-term - we call them 'BCOS' (Best Chance of Success) - target accounts. So this is renewed quarterly by the Sales leadership team. And this is like the Sales target list that we said, okay, this is what we're going to go with for North America. This is what we're going to go with for EMEA, for Q4, and then we'll basically change it for Q1.

Tier two for us is basically - we use 6sense, so 6sense accounts that are in the decision of purchase stage from intent. And so this changes daily. So it's either plus or minus 300 on North America, same for EMEA as well. And then we wanted to base it on segments that we felt would be important for us. And so we're using these segments to facilitate customization and air cover for advertising. And so we launched three segments to start. It was basically around ELK, logging competitors and Kubernetes monitoring, and so we're focusing on the mid-market, which for us is under a billion dollars in revenue. And we have all of these segments and we came together with our Sales Team where we felt like this was our best chance to win.

And then within each of those segments, we basically went through a bunch of keywords that would be important to us under each of these things. When we get to the small logging competitor piece of it, we basically put what are the keyword competitors in there, because we wanted to make sure that we could win those. And that was something that Sales was definitely on board with.

And then we had the Sales account list. And so we have the number of accounts under each of those, basically segments, and so we're using those to kind of go through and we have a very top-down and bottom-up strategy. So, it's working kind of parallel with each other. So we have, for our persona of IT / security decision-makers, we have very targeted messaging that we've worked around in a specific CTA for them. And then we have a bunch of channels that we're pushing out for that list. And then for the developers and engineers, it's also a very different messaging and a completely different CTA. And we're kind of working those together to push through the accounts that really matter. And it was a lot of meetings, a lot of planning, and I'm owning the ABM strategy but I work with our campaigns team, our online Marketing team, the SDR team, Sales Team. So it's making sure everything is pulled together as best as possible. And we're always enhancing this. It's not perfect by any means, but I think we're at a good place, having done this in two months is pretty good.

Declan (strategicabm) - So Nick, my understanding is that you're running all three types of programs: One-to-one, One-to-few and One-to-many. Can you just talk a little bit about how you see those programs as being different?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, so specifically for me, field marketing usually plays in the One-to-one and One-to-few, whereas our campaigns and online or Digital Marketing team is doing the One-to-many. And so they're really providing the air cover, whereas I'm more focused on accelerating through the funnel and pushing those opportunities further. And it's through a variety of different things. Maybe I'm doing VIP events specifically for them or webinars or round tables, or doing a wine tasting, something like that. It's really just kind of working to push it through but also having that air cover that helps provide the necessary pieces that keep things moving for us.

Declan (strategicabm) - And obviously you're two months in now, looking back over the course of the last eight weeks or so, what would you say are some of the greatest learnings that you've had being new to ABM?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, so I think one of the biggest things was that I've never - working with an SDR team that hasn't prospected at the account level was new to me because I didn't know, I thought it was just an easy switch of doing it at the lead level. Let's just switch it to the prospect, to the account level. And I didn't realize how much needed to go into the back-end process within Salesforce for distribution. It was a lot of moving pieces that I needed Sales Ops for. We have a BI team that had to help with a lot of that as well.

And so the way that we ended up coming to it was each SDR will have a personal accounts dashboard with a list of accounts and decision of purchase stages with scoring information for prioritization, and so being able to build all of that from scratch, when they've never done this before was a lot of learning lessons. And so our SDR team, they're very used to just kind of throwing people into cadences. I've been working with them to do a lot of personalized outreach because, with ABM, if you're not personalizing, then you're not going to really get anywhere, and at that point, what's the point of running an ABM program? So I've been helping them build cadences within SalesLoft and helping them with their personal outreach that helps tell a better story and goes into the pain points of that prospect.

Declan (strategicabm) - And would there be anything that you would have changed having now gone through this learning process? Anything you'd look back and think, do you know what, I might have done this differently?

Nick (Logz) - You know, I would probably... it's tough. I think just being able to have a lot of pieces in place before we tried, I think we tried to move too quickly with the launch before having all of the pieces in place. And so, what I mean by that is we're still developing the dashboards for our SDR team right now, even knowing we launched the actual ABM program about a week ago. We've launched specific advertising into our segments this past Monday, but we still don't have dashboards built for our SDR teams to work off of in our AE team. So it's a lot of manual processes right now. We're working on it, but I wish, if I was going to do this again, I would have everything built out beforehand, make sure that training was well-established beforehand so that it was more check-in points versus doing a lot of in-depth training when you're trying to launch everything all at once.

Declan (strategicabm) - You mentioned obviously a lot of times, Nick, the importance of working with Sales, getting that Sales and Marketing alignment. You know, we know from our own experience of running ABM programs for our clients that unless you get that Sales and Marketing alignment right from the very, very beginning, you're going to have a lot of problems trying to get your ABM program off the ground and be successful. How did you find that with the Sales team? What was their input? What was their feedback when you talked them through the ABM program?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, so it's funny. I actually had a talk with my VP of Sales and he was saying ‘don't ever let me tell you how to do your job as a marketer, even knowing I'm the VP of Sales’, he's like, ‘that's not my world. You know it better than I do. If you have recommendations or something that we should be doing, please come forward’. He's like ‘I can give my input but at the end of the day, you should know the world best. So you tell us what will help move the needle’. And because we had such a big gap between when there was no Demand Gen even happening, the ground is pretty easy to beat at this point. Anything that we do is really better than anything that we did before.

And it was easy to get their input and buy-in, it was really creating the target accounts and our VP of Sales, his whole idea was he actually wanted to do more opportunity-based marketing. So whenever someone got to like stage three, for example, we did something specifically for them. So we're trying to mix in the opportunity-based as well as the target account list and the segments and just trying to make everyone happy. But I think we're at a point now where they're starting to see the assets that we're creating from this, the programs that we're starting to run. And now they're just kind of waiting for all of the pipeline to come in that hopefully follows.

Declan (strategicabm) - Good stuff, and did you have to get Executive sign-off for this, or how did that work?

Nick (Logz) - So actually I didn't. I came to my boss, who's the VP of Demand Gen and I basically wanted to pitch the idea. She was all for it at the time, we actually didn't even have a CMO. So our CEO - he's all for it. And so we've actually talked, him and I, about how to use this now for our customer base, which is something that I've thought about, but I haven't implemented anything. So for Q1, Q2 of next year, we want to be able to use it for churn and upsell basically. And so that's a big thing for him, basically protecting the base and just upselling within the accounts - especially with COVID, who knows if budgets are going to freeze again, or if there's going to be a bigger downturn or whatever?

So that's a big piece for him, but he didn't have much input, or really anyone on the C-level didn't have much input. They were all for it because they know Q4 is a huge quarter for us, as well as every other quarter, but they know the input or the magnitude that this could have on the company if done well. And so they're 100% on board with it.

Declan (strategicabm) - And let's talk a little bit about the building blocks of an ABM program: ICP, account selection, value prop, intent data, messaging, etc. With your ABM program, where did you perhaps invest most of your time or the majority of your time?

Nick (Logz) - I think it was a lot of the ICP side of it, and just being able to get the messaging down because a lot of the messaging and content that we did have, didn't speak to a lot of the pain points that we've been seeing. And we've always been a very bottom-up kind of company, where we would get in with the developers and the engineers through a free trial, they would play around with it and convert, but you can't scale as quickly as you want unless you're going after the mid-market and enterprise companies. And obviously, those deals take a bit longer, they're more multi-threaded, there are bigger people in the buying decision. So it's being able to get to them through different messaging, so we spent a lot of time on messaging. We've spent a lot of time on what our ICP actually looks like. And then what are the segments that truly matter where we think we can make a difference.

Declan (strategicabm) - And you mentioned earlier there was a bit of a disconnect between the ICP and the account selection that you were seeing, and what you received from Sales, right?

Nick (Logz) - Right, yeah, and I think it was something that took a while to get aligned on because they wanted to go one way and we ultimately broke it down where we wanted 100 accounts, and so 50 in the US, 50 in EMEA, and then within those 50, we wanted to break it down where 25 were net new, where we need to basically get into those for Q4, and the 25 currently in our pipeline that we were trying to progress.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, so just a couple of questions to finish off actually, Nick. Obviously, this has been an extraordinary year on so many levels, what thing has perhaps surprised you with your marketing that you didn't expect?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, I mean, you know, I think the big thing for me in field marketing is events going away, in-person events, and so being able to get creative, to figure out what you can do to stand out, because how do you thrive in a digital world when everyone's doing the same exact thing? I mean, we're all on Zooms and all these event platforms all day, but everyone is doing the same exact thing. And so whoever finds what that next virtual wine tasting is, is going to be successful.

But ABM also becomes a huge aspect of it because we're trying to run a lot of digital air cover through advertising. We're trying to do very targeted persona-based messaging. We realized that that's truly the quickest way to measurable ROI. And it's tough because even when, you know, say vaccines come out soon, and you get into next year, I don't think virtual events and virtual platforms are ever going to go away. You're still going to have a hybrid model. I don't know what the percentage will be, but you're still going to have to be creative with your outreach. And I think ABM plays a huge piece of that in any program that field marketers do as well.

Declan (strategicabm) - And you referred to that actually, you know when normality returns, so to speak, is there anything that perhaps you always would have done before that now looking forward into your budgeting for the next year and beyond, you'll say to yourself, do you know what, I'm not going to spend so much money on that anymore because I've learned so much this year?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, I would say the trade showpiece of it, honestly, you do these trade shows for these big companies, and it's a lot of money to be there. And I've realized when they've switched to a virtual model, they still charge a good amount but you can do so much more around them without investing in say a virtual booth, for example, because the ROI from trade shows is already terrible. You throw in the virtual aspect of it and they're even worse. And I can tell you from the results that we've seen, virtual booths within trade shows are useless. But if you mix in the ABM component, with doing stuff around the specific trade show, maybe your speaking session, where you don't have a specific landing page but you could still target people to a landing page that you have on your own website, it actually would probably have a bigger impact and cost way less than sponsoring a booth.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, no, I think I definitely concur that we've seen very similar results here with the Agency with our clients around trade and trade events, et cetera. One more question, actually: you're incredibly active on LinkedIn. You know, I follow you, I comment on your posts. I see everything that you're doing and I think you are doing an absolutely fantastic job. What do you think the impact has been for yourself there, Nick, - just for Nick Bennett? What do you think the impact's actually been?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, honestly, I can tell you 100% it opened doors for me that I wouldn't have had opened otherwise. It's helped me get this job that I'm at now. It's helped me launch a podcast. It's helped me be on other podcasts, helped to contribute to articles with other content publications. I'm now an advisor for an event platform that has been following me on LinkedIn for a year. And so they came to me and all those pieces of it wouldn't have happened if I weren't active on there, but it's not easy. Posting five days a week with different content and just trying to stay where it's valuable enough where people will follow you, it's definitely very difficult, but I'm glad that I got into it. And I hope that I can continue to do it and just, you know, see where the road takes me.

Declan (strategicabm) - Any tips then for those people, because a lot of people struggle. They don't know what to write. They're not sure what to post about. Have you got any tips?

Nick (Logz) - Yeah, honestly, consistency is key and that's where people fall off and even, for me, I like to post about field marketing, marketing, personal stories, and sports. That's kind of like my niche and there's really no field marketers that post valuable content other than like a work share that I've seen on LinkedIn. And so I'm just trying to get that piece out there. And if you can find what your niche is, and stick to it, then you can develop a nice little audience for yourself that will really help, and then it'll come back to consistency. And if you're not posting at least like two to three times a week, you just get buried in everything else, where you'll just kind of weed out over time.

Declan (strategicabm) - Nick, great advice and lovely talking to you today. Lovely learning more about Logz and your ABM program. And I wish you every success in the future.

Nick (Logz) - I appreciate it, thank you for having me. It was great.