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No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls. The Next Generation of ABM

This week on the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, we sat down with Latane Conant, the CMO of Qualified partner 6sense. Latane discusses her extremely compelling vision of Account-Based Marketing and how to uncover the signals that tell you when a target person or target company is ready to buy, and how to shift your sales and marketing tactics to maximize conversion.

Many of our readers know about 6sense, the so-called "Account Engagement Platform" that helps B2B organizations achieve predictable revenue growth by putting the power of AI, big data, and machine learning behind every member of the revenue team. 6sense uncovers anonymous buying behavior, prioritizes accounts for sales and marketing, and enables them to engage resistant buying teams with personalized, multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns.

Latane Conant, CMO of ABM pioneer 6sense, speaks with Qualified.com on the Demand Gen Visionaries Podcast

On this episode of Demand Gen Visionaries, Latane discusses how she went back to the drawing board more than a year ago and re-imagined what demand gen would look like if the buyer experience were put first.

Tune in to Latane's episode and hear how she got started in demand gen, her road to become the CMO of 6sense, and more.

Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments.

Episode Highlights

1:30 Latane's First Job in Demand Gen

  • Latane’s first job in demand gen was as a front-line salesperson who was responsible for finding her own pipeline
  • She’s a pro at creating cool, interesting experiences, and bringing people together
  • She ran around the country doing field marketing events and owned that at Appirio
  • From there she started an inside sales team and eventually became the CMO at Appirio
  • Her motto: Look around and see things that need to be done and just start doing them!

3:30 Her Overall Demand Gen Strategy

  • Brand should not be separated from demand, because the best demand gen campaigns make people feel something and create a connection
  • The magic happens when people feel something and we create a connection
  • The last year, what I’ve been able to do, is break some of the traditional tactics and re-imagine them from an experience first perspective
  • For example, if you’re going to make a purchase decision, you don’t go to your boss without first doing some research
  • The first thing we do in classic demand gen is put up a form that presents that research from happening
  • People reject forms, so some people try to spam email lists, and then what happens as a seller is that we collect mickeymouse@aol.com emails or they’re coming in hot inbound and then your sales team is probably too late.
  • I don’t think that’s a great experience for the buyers or for us in sales & marketing
  • About a year ago, I was here at 6sense but I was feeling overwhelmed, so I took a step back and thought about everything from the perspective of buyer experience
  • Let’s prove that if we put prospects and their experience first, we can generate a ton of pipeline
  • We started this experience last July, we documented everything we did, and that’s what you can now see in the new book “No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls: The Next Generation of Account-Based Sales and Marketing
  • And all the money goes to charity!

9:00 Let’s Learn More About 6sense

  • 6sense is an Account Engagement Platform that solves really 3 big challenges 
  • (1) Most buying behavior is anonymous, so we help them uncover that anonymous research and what people and companies are doing the research
  • (2) I want to deliver an amazing experience, but I also want to go to sales club.  So we pick up all of this signal and help sales teams prioritize.  So we show them which accounts are early stage and which accounts are late stage in their buying process.  We show them predictive models that show them who is in market for their solutions
  • (3) Because marketing is very diverse, we should them how their buyers are best able to be reached.  So as a marketer we help people orchestrate how to communicate with them to make sure that organizations are being effective

12:00 How Do You Structure Your Demand Gen Team?

  • I started a year ago with just myself and a Customer Marketing Leader
  • We combined our sales and marketing ops teams and they’re now called “Revenue Ops”
  • We all have access to all of the data and are working off the same plan
  • Digital Marketing we have placed under brand and we think of this as digital experience
  • We’re using things like chat, content hubs, calculator tools
  • We have a growth marketing role, led by a gentleman who started as a BDR and is now focused on demand capture
  • It’s not really about generating demand anymore, it’s about capturing the demand with the best experiences, the coolest field events, the best direct mailers, the best outreach
  • We truly sell to a buying team, and our platform services 4 main personas (a) a head of demand gen (b) the head of SDRs or BDRs, and (c) digital marketing and (d) sales, it’s so important to know when sales should engage

17:30 The Demand Gen Playbook - Uncuttable Budget Items

  • The first thing that is uncuttable is something we call the “Value Card”
  • It’s not that we’re not sending email or calling buyers, but our emails and calls are all geared to add value and known accounts that are in market
  • When an account is in market, a BDR gets notified, and then marketing outlines based on search keywords, what that means for our key personas
  • For example, predictive analytics is one of our top keywords, so we create a Value Card for these keywords and we formulate a value prop for our target audience based on those words.  They are key to ensuring we are adding value to the persona we’re communicating to
  • The second part of our playbook is called the 6QA.  We don’t track any MQLs!
  • We think the account has come from learning, and is ready to engage
  • We have a model that is constantly updating and looking for accounts that meet our ICP criteria, and matching those accounts that we have won.  The model makes sure that we have the right personas.  It measures the level of engagement, and has a timing component that tells us where they are in their buying journey.
  • The third aspect of our playbook is how we connect channels to our dynamic segment and make sure we’re delivering an incredibly personalized experience

22:30 The Content Tactics that are “Crushing It”

  • Direct Mail is crushing it for us. 
  • We use both Alyce and Sendoso for direct mail, both are great
  • I’ve always had a video-first strategy for content. From video you can create social posts, blogs, short pieces.  We’re video-first.
  • The other thing about video and podcasting is that people who are great writers have “writer’s block”, so you can capture some great content that can turn into other pieces like blogs, social posts, and more!

26:00 My Favorite Campaigns

  • We’ve had an interesting program recently.  We were on a CMO roadshow on the state of predictable revenue growth, and the COVID hit…
  • So we scrambled around doing a virtual breakfast series and started talking about what we’re all going to do in times like these.
  • We scrapped the content and started talking about relevant topics and established a weekly call with CMOs talking about how we are operating
  • We now have 500 CMOs that participate in the virtual breakfast series
  • We put all of the content in a content hub, and CMOs can all share
  • I think over time as a CMO you earn the right to take risks, and the biggest thing that I’ve learned, is when my gut was saying something but I wasn’t confident enough
  • If you gut is telling you something is the right thing to do, it probably is

30:45 How Important is Your Website?

  • It’s pretty freakin’ important!
  • Not necessarily your homepage, which is the face of the company
  • But it’s the entire digital “spider web”

32:00 Latane’s Famous Dust-Up

  • I had a huge dust-up with Snoop Dogg!
  • At my former employer Appirio, we were known for the best party at Dreamforce (Salesforce’s annual customer conference)
  • So we wanted to do something different, something more gritty
  • So we booked a “special guest” which was supposed to be Snoop Dogg 
  • The day of the event, Snoop bailed on us, and it was so stressful
  • We ran around and took out $30k in cash and we hired E40 and Too $hort
  • We secured new talent and we had a rager

34:15 Approaching Relationships with Sales

  • One of the things I talk about in the book is being a recovering sales person
  • One of the things we were taught in sales is “looking for red flags” or all of the things that could go wrong in a sales cycle
  • I think about that with respect to revenue ops because we are one revenue team
  • Let’s all look at things that aren’t performing
  • We also use a planning tool called the V2MOM, which gives everyone in the company transparency into what we’re focused on.

36:00 Quick Hits, Getting to Know Latane

  • New hobby during shelter in place...wake surfing!
  • It’s  not as hard as many other water sports because you don’t go as fast
  • I’ve found a new comedian who used to work at Google, Sarah Cooper, who writes “How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings: And Other Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women.” Super funny, that's what I've been reading
  • Favorite quote: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”
  • Title of your next book: “The CMO Files…”  We’ll see!

Episode Quotes:

“I think the best demand gen makes people feel something. It creates a connection.”
“I'm just going to blow this thing up and prove that if we put prospects and their experiences first, we can generate a f***load of pipeline and succeed, and do it in this new and different way.”
“We decided early on not to have sales ops and marketing ops, but to have revenue ops. As a revenue team, let's always be finding our ‘red’ and always be bringing issues and conversion points forward that aren't performing because that gives us a chance to go and fix them.”
“I just always encourage people. If your gut is telling you that it's the right thing to do, it probably is, and sometimes you gotta take those risks.”
“I would challenge the new-world order to be thinking, not about demand generation, but demand capture. Because if you uncovered ‘the dark funnel’, then you actually see the demand right in front of you.”

Ready to hear from more Demand Gen Visionaries? You can find all episodes here.

Posted on
August 18, 2020
by
Kraig Swensrud

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