ABM Playbook

No forms, no spam, no cold calls

In this episode of Lets Talk ABM, we speak to Latane Conant, Chief Market Officer at 6sense, on their 'no forms, no spam, no cold calls' approach in ABM.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-06-30 strategicabm 550 60

Latane Conant
Chief Market Officer, 6sense

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Latane Conant

As CMO of 6sense, Latané is passionate about empowering marketing leaders with effective technology, predictive insights, and thought leadership so they can confidently lead their teams, company, and industry into the future. As a “recovering software sales woman” she is keenly focused on leveraging data to ensure marketing programs result in deals, not just leads.

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 Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

Watch this webinar and learn: 

  • How 6sense uses AI and Big Data to deliver revenue 
  • Why ABM is one of the hottest topics in B2B Marketing
  • How a company should start with ABM
  • What the future holds for ABM
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The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (Strategic IC) - Today, I'm joined by Latané Conant, who's the Chief Market Officer of 6sense. Latané, thank you for joining us today.

Latané Conant (6sense) - Awesome, I'm so glad to be here to talk ABM, right? That's what we're going to do.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Absolutely. We are, we're going to talk ABM for the next 20 minutes, 25 minutes. Let's see how we get on.

So, Latané, Chief Market Officer. Now, when I saw that, that kind of jumped out at me, as opposed to Chief Marketing Officer. Talk us through, what was your thinking there in that deliberate choice of words?

Latané (6sense) -  So, it wasn't my original thinking. It originated from a lady named Christine Heckerd, who is now a CEO, but was formerly a CMO, legendary CMO, and we had, actually, a CMO retreat, and we brought about 100 top B2B CMOs together.

We talked a lot about the role and we had a whole workshop about the role, and Christine talked about its origination, and to get Marketing a seat at the table, right?

To go from VP's of Marketing to get that C-title, and she said, "But we made a mistake "by not calling it the Chief Market Officer "and by calling it the Chief Marketing Officer," because the -ing, all of a sudden, indicates tactics, website traffic, blogs, press releases.

You know, if you think about the Chief Sales Officer or the Chief Finance Officer, they own their domain. They don't own a set of activities. The activities are for their domain, what expertise they bring to the table, and ultimately, part of the challenge of the CMO is it can be a very broad role.

So, I love this notion of a Chief Market Officer, because all of a sudden, it grounds you in what's most important and why, originally, we even have the seat at the table, which is to be the voice of the market and be the rudder that is providing the Executive Team, customers, partners, where we see the market going. So, I didn't change my title lightly. It took me a long time and a lot of inferiority complex to feel like I was worthy of that title, but we did a bunch of category design work and came out of it with our point of view on ABM and the ABM category and where we see it going, 'cause we actually see a next wave or generation of ABM, which is really about orchestrated Account Engagement and Sales and Marketing. So, when we put that out, we updated our market texture, we had our category point of view. I felt I was ready and worthy of the title. So, you asked for the time, I built you a clock, but that's why Chief Market Officer.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Thank you. So, let's just talk a little bit about 6sense. Obviously, a few days ago, we saw the news that you were named Leader, actually, in the Forrester New Wave ABM Platform Report, so congratulations on that. And for the audience who don't know much about 6sense, could you tell us a little bit more about the company and, perhaps, what makes you different?

Latané (6sense) -  Sure, sure. So, we are an Account Engagement Platform, and what that means is, think about the way B2B buyers buy, and the majority of the buying process, as we know, depending on the stat you follow, it's anywhere from 50 to 70% anonymous, or what we at 6sense call 'in the dark funnel'. This is very challenging for Marketing and Sales professionals when our job is to engage with customers and accounts. So, the first thing that is really necessary if you want to be able to orchestrate Account Engagement is to be able to really shed a light on the dark funnel. So, we provide leading insights, to be able to really understand patterns and where accounts are in their journey, even when they're in the dark funnel. So, that's the first part, but just seeing it isn't enough. You need to be able to

go and take action on it, and that's where the orchestrated part comes in. You know, we were kind of riffing earlier, I love direct mail, but just because you send someone a direct mail package, doesn't mean you're doing Account-based. Account-based is taking the entire Buying Team, which is probably minimum 3, maybe up to 10, 15 people, and saying, "Okay, how do we surround this Buying Team "with relevant messaging across channels?" So, you know, whether it's paid social, organic social, maybe direct mail, maybe a BDR cadence, how do we orchestrate all of that and have it be based on the account and their behavior, not our own process? So, it's pretty robust, what we do, but that's where we see the future of Sales and Marketing going and that's the platform that we're building to support it.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  So, actually, linked to that, Latané, you have a book, actually, coming out in July, I believe, called "No Forms, No Spam, No Cold Calls". Great title. Tell us a little bit about that and what was your thinking behind writing this book?

Latané (6sense) -  We see Account-based as a journey, and not the end destination. The end destination for Sales and Marketing teams and companies is predictable revenue growth, right? But unfortunately, and the Account-based mindset has helped get us a step further, but we actually did our own study on hundreds of companies, and found even those that were doing Account-based are still having challenges with predictable revenue growth.They still use lead-scoring. They still don't understand what content to put in front of people at the right time. There's still a lot of misalignment between Sales and Marketing, and so, we haven't gotten quite as far as we want, and I had sort of this interesting ah-ha moment because my past life was Customer Experience.

My job was, and what we did at Appirio was revolutionized your customer and your employee experience using technology. And so, I had this existential moment, and it sounds obvious, but you know, I was like, "Wait a second." The reason we're getting in our own way, because we're not putting customers or prospects, who are future customers, in the centre of the experience. We're forcing people through our tactics, 'cause that's what we know how to do, right? We know how to put up a form. We know how to gather an email address. We know how to carpet-bomb 'em with spam.

We throw that over the wall to sales. Sales think that they suck, and so, then they're stuck with a shitty territory, doing cold calls, right? (laughs)

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Yeah.

Latané (6sense) -  I mean, and we kind of can't get out of our own way, and there's been all this technology advancement, and some of it is just speeding up the same bad behaviour.

So, I sort of said, "Man, we have this amazing opportunity," especially given that, as the CMO of 6sense, I sit on top of this amazing AI insight and orchestration platform. I have so much insight, and I can orchestrate different experiences. I've got to change the game, and I can't just pontificate about it. I have to actually prove this, and so, that was what the book was. It didn't start as a book. It started as an internal project, called "Project Bold Moves", and "Project Bold Moves" said we are going to lean into the AI, into the big data. We're going to understand customers and their behaviour better than anybody else, and we're going to do it differently.

We're going to put them at the centre, and our values, so I challenged the team. I said, "Design a system that just has no forms, "no spam, and no cold calls," and we started that last July. And then, the book really details how we did it and the results that we've been able to achieve, because, you know, people aren't going to want to be able to, it sounds great, right, and it sounds obvious, but how do you actually do it? What are the frameworks you use? How does that change people's roles? The last chapter really talks about what are some new roles that we see emerging, and we've had to reorganise our team a few times to actually work for this new model.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And obviously, that was last July, we're now, so it's almost a year now.

Latané (6sense) -  Yeah.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And is that going to continue throughout now? You're just going to keep going and keep rolling with this new way of working?

Latané (6sense) -  Yeah, and that was kind of interesting, is I had to sort of just put pencils down, right? 'Cause, at some point, I'm like, we can't keep adding. We need to get this book out, and while I'm the author, it's really my entire team's body of work, kind of documenting what we've done. I mean, every day, and I say this in the book, I'm not perfect at this. I wish I was, I hope to be, and that's why I say that "No Forms, No Spam, No Cold Calls", that's a value system. It's not literal, but if you use that as your value system, it helps kind of gut check why are we doing this? And when, and a big part of it, for us, is getting incredibly savvy with our digital experience. You know, if you think about B2C, they're way ahead of us, and so, we're really trying to figure out how we catch up to our friends in B2C, given that it's more challenging in B2B, because it's not just one person who looks at some shoes, thinks the shoes are good and buys them. It's 10 people.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  So, related to that, Latané obviously, you mention in the book Customer-Led Digital Experience, right?

Latané (6sense) -  Yeah.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  So, I think you're touching on that now, really, with regards to that kind of B2C, B2B kind of model, right?

Latané (6sense) -  Yes, exactly. So, one of the things that we've really strived to do is use the insights as the signal, and in a dynamic way, change the experience based on two things, and we've leaned into two factors. Depending on your audience, you might have different factors, but for us, we've leaned in on the keyword. I mean, I didn't go into everything 6sense does, but it's a platform, right? So, depending on the keyword you're researching, you probably have different problems that you're looking to address, and you're going to want to see different kinds of content and learn different things. And that also probably says something about your persona. So, we look at the keywords that account is researching in conjunction with their timing, and this is a game-changer, because, as marketers, we've always written like, 'This is Top of the Funnel activities and content, and this is Bottom of the Funnel!' But we just sort of put it out there and hoped for the best. We didn't have a way to say you're Top of the Funnel and you care about this, here you go. Here's your blog, or here's your, you know, here's your video or whatever.

Declan- Yeah.

Latané (6sense) -  And so, because of our ability to take those insights and our dynamic segment capabilities that hook up to all these execution channels, we can start to do that, and so, right now, we're just adding keywords and adding channels, so we just got something different on our website that is a reaction, so it changes the reaction based on what you've done before, for example. We got our Drift bot on this system about three months ago, and we saw like a 130% increase in conversations, 'cause the bot's not just trying to get a meeting. You're not ready for a meeting. We can see, based on your signal, you're not, and we can see this is what you care about, so the bot just serves up content and takes you to a content hub that's custom-designed for you. So, things like that.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  And so, ABM, obviously it's one of the hottest topics right now in B2B marketing. Why do you think it is one of the hottest topics?

Latané (6sense) -  I think it's one of the hottest topics because it works if done properly. It really, really works. You know, and it kind of goes back to the first question, which was 'Why Chief Market Officer' and how did the conversation even start? Our role and our job continues to get more and more and more broad, which you think about yourself as a human, it's exhausting. You know, you become watered down. Well, think about the same thing for every marketing dollar that you have, and the broader you go with that dollar, the less impactful it is and the less meaningful it is. And one of the great things about ABM, and what I tell people, you know, a lot of times people say, "Well, we're not ready to buy technology." That's okay. Just understand your ICP, please. You know, just understanding your Ideal Customer Profile, and saying 'no', like we are going to overlay that Ideal Customer Profile, that is like a huge step forward, I believe. So, I think the underlying strategy around focus, around a Buying Team, understanding that it's a Buying Team, understanding that it needs to be multi-tactic, understanding that it's not just a marketing activity, it's Marketing and Sales, these are all fundamentals that we're changing with an Account-based approach. And it's no wonder that people see better, increased pipeline, larger deal sizes, faster velocity. You know, those are just typical outcomes of an ABM approach.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Yeah. What do you see the future of ABM? What does modern ABM or ABM 2020, what does that look like for you?

Latané (6sense) -  Yeah, and the subtitle of the book is "The Next Generation of Account-Based Sales and Marketing," and that's because, one, we think B2B will finally get serious about customer, or, as I say, future customer experience, because the people who do are going to win. They're going to win more, they're going to win more often, and that's going to set the stage, so that's first. We think that technology platforms for Account-based will continue to advance and emerge, which is awesome news, and that's what that new wave was about. You know, how comprehensive, like one of the things that Steve Casey, the analyst, looks at is what's the comprehensiveness of the platform? 

So, we see that. We see AI and big data, and if you look at ZoomInfo's recent IPO, that's a testament. We think that, if you're going to over-rotate, you over-rotate on AI and insights, because account selection, and when we look at ABM programmes that haven't panned out, and this is my own lesson learned from when I was at Appirio and we tried ABM, it's all about picking the right accounts. And just because they're Fortune 500 or you think they have got a good title, that doesn't matter. Are they in market? You know, and so, having those insights to really understand the dynamics, to make sure that you're pointing your valuable resources at the right accounts is critical, and I think people will take that more seriously as their programs mature.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  I think, perhaps, actually, you might have actually answered already my last question, but my last question was going to be what advice would you give to any company looking to start an ABM program? And you've touched on the importance of an ICP, you've touched on the importance of account selection, you've touched on the importance of the use of insight and intent data. Anything else that you think would be important for anybody looking to either start, improve, revamp their ABM program, rather?

Latané (6sense) -  So, yeah. I mean, you've basically nailed it. Account-based is not sending direct mail packages to accounts, it's not just having a target list, it's not just running programmatic display. The core, the line of delineation between success or failure is account selection and insights about those accounts. So, people that nail that, the rest takes care of itself, you know?

It doesn't matter what tactic you apply. You can start to add different tactics and try and test, but it's impossible to go wrong if you are using great insights and you understand your ICP.

Declan (Strategic IC) -  Latané, it's been an absolute pleasure learning more about yourself and 6sense today. Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to sharing this 'Let's Talk ABM with the public in the very near future.

Latané (6sense) -  Thank you, I appreciate you having me.