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Partner-based ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak to Florence Broderick, CMO at CARTO, about what makes Partner Marketing different from traditional B2B, and why nurturing talent is vital in ABM.

Date published: Date modified: 2022-02-17 strategicabm 550 60

Florence Broderick

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Florence is CMO at CARTO, with responsibility for translating the value of Location Intelligence to enterprise organizations in a wide range of sectors. Prior to joining CARTO, Flo worked at Telefónica's specialist Big Data unit, having previously worked in Connected Car, VoIP tech, and mobile data insights in the UK, Spain, Germany, and Latin America.

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: 

  • How CARTO's marketing has pivoted over the last 18 months
  • What makes Partner Marketing different
  • Why nurturing talent is so important
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
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The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Flo Broderick, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of CARTO. Flo, thanks so much for joining us today. 

Flo Broderick (CARTO) - Great to be here, thanks for having me Dec. 

Declan (strategicabm) - So let's just kick off with a question about CARTO. So, it might not be a familiar name to many people, but it should be. So tell us, what problem do you solve?

Flo (CARTO) - So, CARTO is a location intelligence platform, which doesn't mean a lot to some people, but basically it's all about asking questions about where things happen and why they happen in those locations. 

So if you think about retailers, for example, imagine that you need to open five McDonald's in a new area of the UK next year. You need to decide where it makes the most sense based on foot traffic, based on weather patterns, based on proximity to other types of establishments, basically helping different enterprise companies to ask those questions and reduce costs and increase revenues by answering questions about where. 

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Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, well, let's just dig into that a little bit more then, Flo. Talk to us about some of the challenges that your customers face and how CARTO helps them. 

Flo (CARTO) - So, retail site selection, which I just mentioned, is one of them, but there are lots of others. For example, we work with CPG companies. So, the big Consumer Packaged Goods companies out there - FMCG for those in the UK. To understand things around customer segmentation for example, where do you need more points of sale? 

For example, if you consider ice cream sales, obviously that's closely linked to weather and what weather looks like in certain locations, and how tourism patterns are recovering or not after a pandemic. 

Or another example is logistics, which is obviously a really high growth one because, during the pandemic, so many people started shopping online who wouldn't have otherwise shopped online. And so there's a massive stress on the supply chain to deliver so much more to our homes right now. 

There are also the added stresses of what's going on with the supply chain with Brexit, for example, in Europe. And so, helping customers optimize their operations geospatially so that they can reduce the number of routes, reduce their carbon footprint, for example, and be far more efficient in the way that they run their 'last mile' operations. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, let's just talk about that then exactly. And because you mentioned, obviously what's been happening over the last 18, 24 months, etc. But I remember when we were speaking previously to this call, you mentioned that events used to be a large part of your kind of go-to-market strategy. And obviously, with what's happened in the last couple of years, that's actually changed significantly your GTM. 

So, what have you done now, how have you pivoted? 

Flo (CARTO) - Yeah, so from a content perspective, at the beginning, it was really important for us to adapt to what our customers and prospects were seeing. So we actually...the pandemic was closely linked to where things were happening. Where were there cases? Where were there restrictions? And so we had a lot of customers come to us with use cases around, okay, we need to see how mobility patterns are recovering. How is mobility changing during lockdowns, etc? 

So, we actually launched a Grants Program and we gave out free CARTO accounts to many government institutions and many non-for-profits, so they could start actually getting the benefit. We were all in a terrible situation, and so many people were suffering in our company outside of work, we just wanted to help. 

So one thing we did was launch that Grants Program, which gave us loads of fantastic content to tell great stories about why geospatial data was more important than ever. So that was one initiative that we did, but in terms of actually Demand Generation, how did we adapt? 

One of the biggest initiatives and most successful ones for us during the pandemic was our own virtual event. We didn't have as much success participating in virtual events run by other companies that went from offline to online. But we moved our own conference, which is called the Spatial Data Science Conference online. We did it with Hopin. We had about 6,000 to 8,000 signups for each one of the three events that we did. We also did a couple of verticality versions of that, one focusing on Retail and CPG, one focusing on Financial Services, the other one is vertical agnostic. 

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And the key to the success of that, is we don't make that about CARTO, we don't make that into a user conference at all. We really make that about bringing together people working in data science, who deal with geospatial data to come together, talk about their use cases, talking about the types of data that they’re using and share their best practice. 

And so, we kept the presentations really short, 15 minutes, rapid, Q&A afterward. Nobody wants to sit on a Zoom call and listen to 30 minutes presentations, I think in the current climate. And that just worked really well. I think we had about 500 to 1,000 people online at any one time. 

We also geared the whole thing up to be very Netflix in the sense that people want to watch things when they want to, they don't want to watch it live. So, we really geared up on-demand, get the videos available online, as fast as possible. 

And the fantastic thing about a virtual event like that is you have this amazing playlist of content afterward, which your SDRs can use, your account executives can use, your CSMs can use to nurture accounts. And so that was really a massive lead driver for us over the past couple of years. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And what was the result then? I mean, can you share anything with us about how that actually turned out and what kind of results you had? 

Flo (CARTO) - Yeah, I mean, we've got plenty of opportunities off the back of that event. It's been a revenue driver. And it's been much faster than offline events. Sometimes with the opportunities that come from offline events, it's six months later a prospect says, oh yeah, I saw that you guys were at Big Data London and we have this RFP and so you came to mind. 

It's actually been much more immediate because they see those use cases at the conference, follow up, and our Sales team moved the conversation forwards and it's very easy to communicate the use case via a conference like that. So, really great impact in that respect. 

The other thing that we did that we had time to think about, particularly at the beginning, when it was very unsure what was going to happen with many deals with purchasing departments, so much froze. And we were very worried. 

We thought verticals like Retail, this is bad news. But actually, because there's such a paradigm shift happening in Retail, there are more questions than ever about, okay, well, if we're going to close 20 of our stores in Central London, how are we going to do that, which ones? And if we're going to go to 'curbside pickup', because that's what you have to do during a pandemic, how are we going to do that? 

Actually, the leads grew in some of those verticals, so it was a surprise. But the thing that we had time to do was to really improve our Sales stack. So, we moved across to Outreach for example, and that's been a massive boost in terms of productivity for our Sales development team. We started using Gong and doing a lot more call coaching because that was a really great vehicle, remotely onboarding new salespeople, you're not in the office with them, you're not having the chance to visit other offices. 

And so we started doing a lot more call coaching to understand how we were talking about different use cases, how we were doing solutions selling, giving feedback to those starting off in that team. And we started doing more digital experiments with intent data, with G2, and it was a really interesting learning curve for us. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, it certainly seems that you've had a very, very busy last couple of years trying new things out, and obviously you've learned an awful lot as well, right? 

Flo (CARTO) - Absolutely, learning an awful lot. Everybody in our team has, I think. Much like any discipline within Marketing, whether that's SEO, whether that's Demand Gen, you only learn by experimenting. And you're never really up-to-date however many years you've had in the industry. 

I'm part of a community, for example, called Pavilion. And I'm involved in the channel there to kind of read what are other Marketers trying out. And lots of conversations about things like events and love shared polls of, okay, well, the smaller events are working for us with 30 people rather than going to the trade shows and being able to participate in that and see those ideas has been really helpful during the pandemic. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I would definitely agree with you there about Pavilion and also, I'm a member of Peak Community, which was started by Sangram Vajre and that's also very similar as well, lots of sharing and lots of, very kind of selfless kind of advice really, and people really going out of the way to help other Marketers and other CMOs. 

So let's just talk about 2022 then, obviously there's some kind of semblance of normality returning, albeit that the last couple of weeks have suggested that maybe that normality won't come as quick as we thought. But what does your marketing look like in 2022? 

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Flo (CARTO) - So, it's a good question and I think it's going to be more localized than ever because it's such a different situation in the US for example, to the UK until recently. And then other markets across Europe, Germany, France, Spain, there are massive differences between each one in terms of where our buyers are at, and it's so linked to what's happening and what's appearing on the news every day that we have to be very fast to adapt. 

It did feel like we were having a semblance of normality until everything kicked off this week really with Omicron. We had a very rigorous schedule planned for 2022 around events, getting back to those offline events, and speaking to buyers in person, because it's been so long. 

And I think that, and we saw this in Q4, particularly in the UK, that because people have been so long without going to events and trade shows, people were desperate to get back. 

That's a lot slower in North America. So, we're going to have to be very cautious about how we plan like this. I wouldn't be committing budget for events in Q2, for example, because you don't know yet what it's going to look like. 

So, more digital experiments in Q1, until we know what the situation is like. More and more outbound prospecting. We've spent a lot of time and resource on upskilling in outbound and working out how we do that in an educational useful way to our buyers, rather than a 'spray and pray', etc. And that's yielding some great results. 

But one of the biggest bets for us is our Partner Marketing and really leveraging some of our strategic partners like Google as channels, because they obviously have a direct line to so many accounts and a really strong, large salesforce that we can work very closely with. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, that actually leads nicely, Flo, into my next question actually I was going to ask you around Channel Marketing and Partner Marketing. Obviously, this is a huge part of your go-to-market strategy with partners, such as Amazon Web Services, Google that you mentioned, Snowflake, etc. 

Let's dig into that a little bit more if we may. Talk us through what's different about building relationships with channel partners versus direct clients. 

Flo (CARTO) - Yeah, it's very different in the sense that when it's direct, you're speaking to a technical buyer in many cases, in CARTO's case, 'cause we sell to data scientists, developers, analytics profiles, generally speaking. There are some standalone cases where we sell to business people, or we sell a solution. But there we're talking about how our platform can connect to their existing stack. What are the use cases, what data streams can we provide via our platform and so that could be a customer like Coca-Cola, Bain are customers. Another good example would be MasterCard or Vodafone. 

So you're speaking directly to them, directly to departments with a business need. When we're talking to our partners, and all of those customers I've just mentioned are moving to the cloud, are already multi-cloud, using data warehouses. 

So for us, it was just a very natural evolution to make our platform the go-to cloud-native platform for geospatial. Some of the existing competitors in the market have not been very effective at going cloud-native and so it's become a real competitive differentiator for us. 

So when we talk to those partners, really it's about understanding, what are their drivers, how are they structured? And then giving them 'things in a box', a 'campaign in a box'. But then you can't expect an Account Executive at Google to know how to sell into every single sub-category of SaaS. 

So, how do you very quickly give them everything they need to talk about geospatial analytics to one of their accounts, and how are they 'comped' at the end of the day? You want to understand what's their compensation structure, what is it that drives them to end up speaking about you instead of one of the other eight partners that are trying to talk to them to that final customer? 

And so you have to show the upsell value, the cross-sell value, and make it very clear what the use cases are. Ask them to map out their accounts. Maybe they manage eight accounts, explain, for the CPG customers it’s best to talk about point of sales strategy, customer segmentation for these retail customers. Let's talk about site selection and geo-marketing, and just make it very clear to them, give them the materials, give it on a plate, one-pagers, text, videos, etc, and that really helps them to move deals forward and for us to create opportunities. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I mean, we do something very similar with kind of sales playbooks for our clients and for the Sales team within our clients. And just really, as you said, give it to them on a plate, in a box, making it very simple for them to understand and for them to digest and ultimately that they want to sell and that they're keen to sell the right solution, that's the right solution for their clients. So if you can help to transmit that message across and make it easy for them, then also be able to accelerate the sale. 

Talking about accelerating, would you say that these, these relationships, these partner relationships have really been a growth accelerator for CARTO? 

Flo (CARTO) - Absolutely, in multiple ways. In one sense, it brings us more leads because our prospects see, oh, great, CARTO connects natively to Snowflake and Google BigQuery. And then on the other side, because their Sales teams become an extension of our Sales teams. They talk about us and we generate buzz within Google and our other partners. And so it's been an accelerator on all fronts really. 

And it's something we intend to invest a lot in 2022 and extend that across the other clouds. And I really do believe it's going to be a massive demand driver for us. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, and you mentioned when we were talking previously Flo, that you do quite a lot of kind of joint, kind of co-marketing with these partners. Are there any kind of caveats to doing that or any kind of insight you can give? 

Flo (CARTO) - Yeah, I think the most important thing is you have to be proactive and you need to have a great Partner Manager on your side who introduces you to the right people in Marketing. At the end of the day, I'm sure there are 100s, if not 1,000s of requests to do co-marketing each day in a company like Google Cloud or Snowflake. 

So, you really need a Partner Manager who's going to be able to tell your story and be at the table to put forward your webinar idea, your white paper idea. So, you need to find those great people within those companies, that are going to make it happen for you. 

And I think if you're looking to find those opportunities, be outboundish about it as Marketers, outbound isn't just for salespeople, outbound is for Marketers, reach out to the Partner Marketing Managers, reach out to Demand Generation people at partners and give them it as it should be, give a campaign plan, give the idea, talk about what's the potential revenue that you can drive. How many leads can you create, how many opportunities will come? And I think they'll understand the business case for working with you. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, that's very good advice there. So, let's just talk about something which I know you're passionate about. Obviously, the market is white hot at the moment, in terms of people moving, people looking to change jobs, the market for B2B marketers, for ABM marketers, etc it's probably never been as active as it is at the moment. 

And I think when we were talking previously, you were saying that there doesn't seem to be enough good SaaS marketers out there. And one of the things that you're passionate about there at CARTO obviously is growing talent internally. So, could you talk to us a little bit about that and what kind of program you have there? 

Flo (CARTO) - Absolutely, I think there is a massive shortage of B2B Marketing talent, and it's even worse in some countries than others. In North America, there's a massive SaaS ecosystem. People actually move around a lot more. And because so many people have raised money, founders, the first thing they do is they're throwing a lot of money on Marketing, raise brand awareness, drive demand, that's what they want to do. 

And so, it is a very active market and it's very important to be able to attract the best Marketing talent. So, something we always try and do is we try and keep a talent pipeline within CARTO and train people internally. 

So, we always have a couple of Marketing interns. We never keep interns on beyond six months, if they're fantastic, we transition them to a Marketing Associate role, sometimes we get them to specialize in something in particular, whether that's Product Marketing, Demand Gen, Events Marketing. 

So we try and make it a factory, the same way that we manage our SDR team as well. I think nowadays being a great Salesperson is about being extremely curious, being diligent and being able to answer a customer's questions. And that's a big part of the qualification process. 

So we don't really hire any SDRs that have previous SDR experience. We hire those capabilities, those cultural capabilities, competencies, and we develop them. And we give them a lot of training. We bring in some of those expertise externally. So for example, we work with an outbound coach, we also work with marketing automation experts externally to really bring in those skills, which are difficult to find in the market. 

And it's working pretty well for us. Several of our SDRs have become Account Executives, several have become Customer Success Managers, and some have even gone into Marketing. But yeah, there's an absence of that great Marketing talent and I think every founder wants to hire a make-money Marketer, not a make-it-pretty Marketer. 

And getting those Marketers who can speak the language of Sales, who understand what the sales cycle looks like, know how to handle objections, know how to really drill into what the ICP is looking for and understand the industry that they're selling to. 

It's tough to find, and those things are difficult to probe for as well in interview processes. But I think we've got quite a good method for doing that. But yeah, I think it's a big part of what we do at CARTO. 

And we try and have a very strong performance management system. So, we give lots of feedback, we use a great tool internally called 'Nailted' to give feedback and see how employees are feeling, what they want to learn more about. And we give big opportunities to people if they're bringing a lot to the table and we don't care necessarily about, they've got six years experience in this, or they've got, sometimes the rockstars on paper, are not necessarily the people that drive your business to do incredible things. And you have to bet on people in scale up and startup land. 

And that's what we do. And there's some really great stories of our VP of Product, as an example, started as a Customer Success Manager, four and a half years ago, and is now running the whole Product team and is a really fantastic part of the team. 

Same thing, an SDR Intern became a Sales Director in four years. I really love those stories. 

Declan (strategicabm) - No, they're great stories and I think we do something similar in the Agency where we have an internship system as well program and many of our team now who are full-time employees rather have come through that kind of internship as well. So we're very similar to yourself, Flo in that kind of investment. 

And so this podcast is called Let's talk ABM. Let's just talk a little bit then about your ABM program there. Can you paint us a picture of what your ABM program looks like? 

Flo (CARTO) - Absolutely, so as you may have guessed from the topics we discussed today, we are pretty much vertical agnostic in terms of what comes in inbound at CARTO because geospatial is such a cross industry thing. You've got telecoms, utilities, cities, government, healthcare, it's really wide ranging. 

But that's really difficult as a Marketer. It's a lot of industries to touch. It's also a lot of buyer personas that I mentioned earlier, data scientists, developers, analytics, sometimes we speak to CTOs if it's scaling companies, it's very varied, compared to some SaaS companies that are very clearly targeting one vertical, and maybe two job titles. That's a challenge. 

And so we've made a really concerted effort to just focus on accounts in three particular industries, which I mentioned at the beginning, Retail, CPG, and Logistics. The use cases are really clear. We've got fantastic customer stories there. 

And so our ABM program is all about getting our Marketing and Sales team to row in the same direction, towards the same accounts, which are named accounts for North America and Rest of World. We organize our Sales teams in pods. 

So each pod has three or four Account Executives and has two or one SDR, depending on the size of the pod who worked together with them to target those accounts. And we use a series of tools to get insights on those accounts. So we use ZoomInfo, we use Lusher for contact information, but we also use 'Scoops' from ZoomInfo to understand what's happening inside those accounts. 

And what we do is for each of those accounts is really plan out, okay, what are the potential use cases? What is happening in that account that means that they're going to ask some big 'where' questions in the next year. 

So, if you think about an account like Amazon, how many distribution centers are they going to be opening across the US? What are the problems going to be around those distribution centers? Is it going to be access to motorways? Is it going to be access to talent? Because that's one of the biggest problems that distribution centers have, is actually, how do they find people in the area who are going to staff them? Is it that Amazon are going to launch in a completely new category that they're going to need lots of data around plant-based and vegan activities by location. 

We really try and map out what data sets, what use cases could be useful per account and be as personalized as we can in our messaging to that. And of course, all of the marketing that we do around that one pagers, blog posts, webinars, videos, we try and align them with those use cases and the things that are happening in the markets. 

Like another great example is we're seeing this massive boom in quick commerce. So 15 minute deliveries to your home or food delivery apps and ghost kitchens and ghost stores. So making sure that we've got content on that, that we can point customers to, to enable that credibility when we speak to those accounts. 

Declan (strategicabm) - That's incredible. Just what you mentioned there about that kind of 15 minute delivery, etc. I mean, I live up in the mountains, so I wish I could have like, that kind of delivery here, but that's just wishful thinking, but obviously we live down in the city somewhere in Madrid, Barcelona, or London, I'm sure that's coming to you very soon, if it's not already there. 

Let's just talk about a couple more questions around ABM. From your experience Flo, what do you think is the hardest thing about doing ABM? 

Flo (CARTO) - I think the hardest thing is to make sure that everybody rows in the same direction and there are no distractions. I think sometimes we'll see a lead come inbound. It will turn into a really big opportunity and it will be a use case. That's not necessarily one of our core use cases, but we get very excited about it and think, okay, well let's replicate that rather than sticking to the use cases and accounts that we've defined. 

And so I think sellers sometimes will think, okay, well, I'm going to outbound into telecoms, which is not what we planned. So trying to help the entire organization understand, okay, well, all of this Marketing spend and resource that we're plowing into these use cases and these accounts, if you suddenly go off in that direction, it's not going to pay off and it's like training for a marathon. And I think sometimes people want to jump off and do CrossFit instead of doing the marathon. 

And that's the challenge. And the best way to deal with that is very strong communication. And when we have our Global Sales calls, we try and explain, these are the initiatives we're doing, these are the results that we're seeing. So, let's all try and keep growing in the same direction. 

But that's, that is a big challenge, especially when you've got so many people joining sales organization all the time, we're hiring a lot at the moment, and making sure that that vision is communicated to everybody that starts out is really important. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And that's a good one. I mean, obviously, we often talk about ABM being a marathon and not a sprint, but I've never seen the kind of the opposite referred to as a kind of CrossFit trainer. But I think it's a very, very visual metaphor really. 

Two final questions just to finish off Flo. You've talked about the hardest thing about ABM, but if you get a phone call from a friend it's last thing in the evening, you're about to shut down your laptop. And then a friend calls up and says, hey, Flo, they've asked me to launch an ABM program and I need some advice. What is that one piece of advice that you give them? 

Flo (CARTO) - I would say don't neglect content. Some people think that when you're starting off an ABM strategy, it's okay, well, I'm going to invest in the tools. That's what I need to do, I need to go and buy some software. But what's the point in buying software to do it if you don't have great content and great campaigns to push through those tools. 

There's so much MarTech out there. It's very easy to have that MarTech referred within the company. Somebody says, oh, I used this at my old company. There’s just no point in making that investment as with any software. If you're not going to really put the hours into making it work, and I've seen this with our SDR team, we've tried lots of tools, but I try to only keep X amount of experiments going at one time, because it's distracting for people. 

So, it's not all tools and jazz hands, it's about the content. 

Declan (strategicabm) - That's very good, I think. I mean, a lot of people get a bit obsessed with the kind of technology. And I think the MarTech vendors and the ABM tech vendors are doing a very, very good job in Marketing and making people want to learn more about their technology. But ultimately, you've got to get the strategy right first, before you even think about technology and you've got to get the content, as you said, the messaging, the value proposition, all that aligned and nicely teed up before you even start thinking about, the shiny baubles, so to speak of the technology. 

And obviously, we're coming to the end of 2021, 2022, any prediction for ABM in 2022? 

Flo (CARTO) - I think it's just going to be constant readjustment. Not in terms of the accounts that we target. 'Cause like I said, it's a marathon, but in terms of, it would be very easy to prepare a 2022 plan in previous times. But after a pandemic, when things change so quickly that affect our buyers, we have to adapt with that and we have to keep taking temperature in each country, because it looks so different from country to country. 

So we're not through this pandemic changes of direction yet. And so, in terms of preparing my budget for ABM and all things Demand Gen for the new year, I have left a lot of contingency and not tried to set too much in stone because we need to be agile in adapting to our customer's needs. 

Declan (strategicabm) - That's a very well, let's see if it comes true but obviously I think agility is going to be really important as you mentioned, and the ability to kind of move and change quickly 'cause we didn't know what was going to come down the pipe two years ago. So, I think trying to be prepared is probably a very, very sensible thing to do. 

Flo, thanks so much for sharing some insight around CARTO and your ABM journey. And I wish you and the team there every success for the future. 

Flo (CARTO) - Thanks very much Dec, great to chat with you. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Thank you.