A Conversation with Salesforce Pardot CMO Nate Skinner
We sat down in the Qualified Studio with Nate Skinner, Salesforce Pardot CMO, to get his perspective on the world of B2B Marketing. Nate talked about his career path, what keeps him up at night, and why he thinks Conversational Marketing is changing the game for B2B Marketers.
Here are the highlights from our conversation.
KS (Kraig Swensrud, Founder, Qualified): What does a CMO do?
NS (Nate Skinner, CMO, Salesforce Pardot): [02:30] At a B2B company our job is to generate pipeline that turns into customers. Anybody can generate pipeline by throwing ads and banners on the Internet, but getting quality pipeline is a big difference. I focus a lot of my time on thinking about how to make sure that we're generating enough quality pipeline so that the sales team can engage with customers who are actually interested in solving problems.
KS: Where does pipeline rank on the CMO’s agenda?
NS: [03:40] If you're not thinking about pipeline everyday, then you're not doing your job. But it doesn’t happen automatically. I spent time recently with Lori Wizdo from Forrester and she had this great way of talking about the “Go to Customer motion”. Yes, pipeline is the metric, but if we're thinking about the customer's experience and the problems they're trying to solve, we're going to find them because we're speaking in their language. When we think about “Go to Customer”, ultimately it's about engaging prospective customers in their language and talking about the things they care about. And if you're doing that well, then the pipe is a trailing indicator of your success.
KS: What are the biggest challenges for B2B Marketers right now?
NS: [4:45] It’s noisy out there. So how do you stand out? How do you put a message in front of your audience that’s appropriate, at the right time, in the right place, where they spend their time and get their information? That's the challenge. The creative side of marketing is what matters. It's the superpower. It’s being concise, specific, and reaching the right audience the right channel at the right time.
KS: What is Conversational Marketing to you?
NS: [5:45] For me it's that last mile of the lead generation motion. We put ads in the market, we put emails out, we run campaigns and we attract people to our website. And then what happens? For many companies they struggle with this “And then what?” part.
Conversational Marketing done well, and what Qualified is doing for our customers, is closing that last mile. It’s saying someone came through a campaign and they're on your website looking around at your pricing page. Talk to them.
KS: Companies have a ton of website visitors and only can only have real-time sales conversations with so many people. What do you do with everyone else?
NS: [6:56] The solution is Chatbots. Chatbots are good for anonymous visitors and a high volume of visitors.
But what you really want to do is identify the extraordinarily qualified visitors, the ones that have raised their hand in a fundamentally different way than everyone else, and connect those people immediately to a salesperson. And that's what Qualified does for our Pardot customers. Customers like ThoughtSpot are converting leads at a totally different rate than they were before because they’re using Qualified and Pardot.
KS: Pardot has been at the forefront of the Account-Based Marketing conversation. How does Pardot think about ABM?
NS [09:45]: Account-based marketing starts with accounts. Sales teams have been selling accounts for forever. A sales rep does not create an opportunity for a human being, they create an opportunity for an account. It's about time marketing matched that motion and that's what Account-based Marketing is.
The simplest version of the answer is Account-Based Marketing is marketing that starts with accounts. To us, ABM has CRM at the center and the account is the most important important thing.
Companies with under 100 key accounts have the most successful ABM programs. For any company, those 100 accounts could represent 80% of the opportunity.
KS: Companies are folding Conversational Marketing into their ABM strategies and talking to target accounts when they land on their website. If Marc Benioff lands on your website, you don’t want to give him a chatbot, you want to give him a real person. How would somebody get started with Conversational ABM?
NS [13:25]: The first step is to align with your sales team. Step 2 is pick a couple of accounts to test it out.
Lori said that 96% of marketers are combining ABM with general Broad-BasedMarketing programs. You don’t need to completely swap out what you’re already doing. Test out Conversational Marketing and see what happens. If 100 accounts are 80% of your business, don’t you want to treat them differently when they land on your website?
KS: What advice do you have for aspiring marketing leaders?
NS [16:20]: The first thing would be to understand that marketing is not just changing the code of the emails. I spent 10 years before marketing in sales roles and every sales person I ever met up until that point the marketers were just people to change the color of the website. Marketing a whole lot more than that nowadays. It's complicated. It’s a science and it's an art combined.
The second thing I'd say is there's products and technology that make this job easier. Qualified for Pardot is purpose-built for our customers. So if you're a Pardot customer out there and you're looking to move up in your organization or you're looking to do something creative and jack your business, have your marketing leadership team take a look at what Qualified can do for your customers because the combination is a game-changer.
The third thing I'd say is never stop trying and testing. Take some percentage of your budget in your time to try new things and test stuff.
The last thing I'll is don't be a servant to the metrics, have the metrics serve you. Getting beholden to a number paralyzes people. Instead of having it happen to you, happen to it. New things like Conversational and ABM help you set your company in a different trajectory and breakthrough that noise.
KS: What can we expect at Dreamforce 2019?
NS [19:10]: You can expect it to be the best ever. That's for sure. And if you're a customer or a Pardot prospect and you want to talk about salesforce for B2B Marketing, we're always at the Palace Hotel and we'll be at the Pied Piper we get that space as our stage take our customers through it.