Episode 86: Applying Account Based Marketing – Brandon Redlinger

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 86: Applying Account Based Marketing - Brandon Redlinger
00:00 / 00:00

Account based marketing or ABM is an alternative to B2B. It’s a strategy where an individual account is treated as its own market of one. Brandon Redlinger manages growth at Engagio which provides software products for account based marketing and account based sales.

Brandon is going to share his experiences and strategies working in this funnel. I’m hoping that you will come away with some key takeaways and educational points that you can apply right away. Brandon also shares how account based everything may be more appropriate because bigger companies are now pushing account based success in all aspects of sales and marketing.

Episode Highlights:

  • The account based approach is strategic marketing that is personal and relevant coordinated between different functions.
  • It can be used in the top of the funnel to open doors or lower in the funnel for account expansion, upsells, and more.
  • This concept is similar to strategic selling targeted at a smaller set of accounts but at bigger deals.
  • Technology is enabling marketing to help sales open doors by using intelligence, predictive modeling, and engagement scoring.
  • Casting a wide net with marketing, inbound, content, demand generation, and ABM.
  • How account based marketing helps in all five levels of awareness.
  • Large companies have global accounts with many divisions. This is why working with relationships within the accounts is important.
  • How engagio allows tracking with a different customer touchpoints like SalesForce, Marketo, your CRM, or Google Apps.
  • The importance of retention and how many VCs are looking at these numbers over growth numbers.
  • How a lot of people will jump into ABM and get it wrong. How important it is to look at if it is right for you and fits within your business model.
  • The importance of not executing before you have a plan.
  • The co-founder of Engagio was actually the co-founder of Marketo, and he left because he feels that account based marketing is the future of B2B.



Marylou: Good morning, everybody, it’s Marylou Tyler. Today I have Brandon Redlinger from the San Francisco Bay Area. He manages growth at a company called Engagio, and without taking away from his thunder because Engagio is a company that we’ve been watching for quite some time in terms of the new way of looking at selling, account-based I think they call it, everything is account-based.

Brandon: Account-based marketing, account-based everything, yep.

Marylou: Brandon is gonna share with us his experiences in working in this funnel, again, top, a little bit of middle, top funnel which is where we wanna focus. I’m hoping that you, by listening to Brandon, you’ll come away with some real key takeaways and some educational points that you can apply right away. We’re ending 2017 right now, going into the glide into 2018, I call it the glide path because it’s the time to reflect on what we did well in 2017 or what we wanna do for 2018.

I wanted Brandon to come on because I know that there’ll be some nuggets of information that we can internalize and start incorporating into our planning for 2018. Welcome to the show, Brandon.

Brandon: Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it.

Marylou: You have been at the beginning of all of the hype around account-based marketing, account-based selling. When you envisioned account-based marketing, selling, everything, what is it exactly that you envision? What is it exactly that definition of this term?

Brandon: We call it account-based everything, we also call it account-based marketing. I’ll start off with giving a little bit of a reason why we actually say account-based everything as well as account-based marketing. Account-based marketing, it really is a strategic business initiative. It’s not just for marketing even though it has marketing in the title. A lot of times, a lot of people will say, “It’s just for marketing.”

Let’s broaden that a little bit. Let’s call it account-based everything. Whether you wanna call it account-based marketing or account-based sales, account-based sales development, even success these days, customer success and account inclined management, with these bigger B2B deals, these bigger companies in the enterprise, they are going account-based. We’re seeing companies these days pushing account-based customer success.

We call it account-based marketing or account-based everything but essentially, to us, it really is this strategic approach, it’s coordinated between your different functions and it’s really personalized and relevant. Rather than one size fits all messaging, it’s gonna be really specific and targeted to the person on the other end. You can use it to, at the top of funnel, open doors or you can actually use it lower in the funnel or even for account expansion, upsell, cross sell, that sort of thing.

Marylou: I’m an old timer, you probably know this. In the olden days, we used to call something like this, or maybe it’s not, I want you to correct me, we used to call it strategic selling where we would have our dream 100 accounts. For instance when I was in sales, I had six accounts, period That’s all I sold into with the $2 million quota. Those would be my strategic accounts. I would map each out individually, of course this was pre-internet so we had the phone, we had the mail, and we had face to face.

I had accounts all over the country though so face to face was a little bit tough. What I did was I strategized on each, we coordinated afterwards between the team, you personalized all of the communication because we probably have six accounts. We made it so that it was relevant. Is strategic selling, or the old term strategic selling, similar to account-based if you are to put things in a bucket, or is it because now with the technology, making things more specific from a generalized nature is what constitutes account-based?

Brandon: A lot of the principles, you’re right, absolutely, 100% the same. It’s targeted, it’s a smaller set of accounts but bigger deals, more complex sales cycles. We’ve seen this explosion in the last five, seven years, is that marketers did what they do best and they really took this idea and started to promote this idea. Before, sales in the enterprise, absolutely, they were always strategic, they were always account-based.

What we’re really seeing these days is marketing is getting involved, marketing wants a seat at the table now. Marketers are really taking more revenue responsibility. When you’re in B2B, when you’re selling enterprise deals, it has to be that way. Now, we’re seeing marketing stepping up and taking a little bit more ownership. They just coined the term account-based marketing and did what they did in marketing and started to market the term itself as well. That’s my take on it, at least.

Marylou: Similar nature, we have a lot more tools at the stack, it is more involved now than it was back in the day. We still have our dream accounts. Account-based selling is strategic selling in a lot of ways. Account-based marketing is where the marketers are getting involved to help us get better at that sales conversation. I like to think of it as strategically placing conversations, snippets based on behavior which we can track now and also based on a relative position in the pipeline so we know who to talk to, what to say, when to say it and how to get them to move from position to position based on the buyer behavior.

Brandon: What I love is these days, with all this technology, marketing really is able to help sales open the doors at accounts a lot more effective because they have all this intelligence, or they’ll able to use some predictive modeling and engagement scoring to figure out what are those accounts that we should be going after in the first place. With all this technology that marketing has at its disposal is really helping sales. Sales should definitely be as excited as anyone for it, call it ABM or ABE.

Marylou: The other thing is, with the alignment of marketing and sales, sales is still responsible for the conversation, what I call belly to belly, you’re across the table from your guy or gal and you’re having a conversation. You as a sales person are wrapping up that conversation and that intelligence that you gleaned in that conversation can now be fed back to marketing so that marketing can take that and run it against their analytics, their what if scenarios, and make sure that the next time you have a conversation, not only have you warmed it up because you prepared the prospect but you’re gonna have a more in depth and probably more relevant conversation as the result of you sharing information back and forth between sales and marketing.

Brandon: Yes, absolutely, 100%. Sales, they’re nose to nose, toes to toes with some of their customers. It’s a big account there, hundreds of people within that account. Some people might come inbound, some sales rep has no ideas even on the radar. They come inbound, marketing says, “This is already a part of this account. Let me actually reach out to Rick over here. Hey Rick, guess who just came inbound? He’s actually one of your target accounts, he’s one of your ideal personas. Here’s the content he’s been engaging with, here’s all this relevant information. Maybe you should look at it.”

You’re right, marketing gets to be able to help sales have those more relevant conversations. Marketing is actually getting involved later in the sales cycle as well. We’ve seen a big resurgence in things like field marketing. It’s no longer just this handoff, this lead, I’m gonna deem qualified or whatever that means. Now sales, it’s your job to close it. Now it’s like, “Okay, great. I’m on the line for more revenue responsibility. How can I help you down the funnel as well?”

We’re gonna do some field events for executives or executive workshops or any of these other things that will help this deal move along as well. Marketing is getting involved later but also sales is getting involved earlier. That’s why I love this, it’s this real team approach.

Marylou: Traditionally, the way we think of marketing is casting the wide net. I think even in Predictable Revenue, the book in 2011, Aaron and I mentioned it as casting the wide net but it’s really not that way anymore. There are segments, account-based marketing is a segment. I guess they do still cast a wide net for what I call the minnows to make sure they get awareness and build the things that marketing does traditionally. Now we’re getting and actually scaling that inwards so that we are getting more specific, more strategic to the actual account level.

From what I’ve been reading about Engagio, you can actually get specific specific, their own webpage kind of thing, to each account which is amazing, amazing advances.

Brandon: 100%, exactly. Actually, that’s a great distinction. A lot of times, people think marketing, inbound, content, demand gen is one thing and then ABM or a company’s strategy is something else, it’s one or the other. The way that we look at it at Engagio is you actually need both. We do wanna cast that really wide net and get people who we may not know should be even on our radar while still going after those people who we know we want, our key account, our key 100.

Marylou: The way I explained it to my folks is there are five levels of awareness. Account-based marketing really helps breathe at all of those five levels of the fact that they may not be aware of you, your product, they have a problem, all the way up to not only are they aware but they actually thought you out. Traditionally, marketing would go after those higher levels with the casting the wide net of people who are interested and ready to start executing the conversation.

We need those three lower levels of not aware, problem aware, and situation aware. They don’t even know they have a problem and to the point they know they have a problem but they’re not sure what the solution is. Having all those five levels covered allows us to not only reach more people but reach more people with value and then segment them in a way that the reps, sales reps, will have meaningful conversations with those accounts who are a high probability of closing, high likelihood of being a long time customer, which is really where we wanna get because that gets you the revenue you need.

Brandon: Absolutely, exactly. I love it.

Marylou: Let’s leave top of funnel for a while even though that’s my passion. You mentioned, which I loved this idea, you mentioned the cross sell, upsell. Tell us about that side of life and how this is changing now with account-based marketing.

Brandon: When we’re selling these larger accounts, there’s actually a lot of different buying units within a big account. If you’re selling into GE or Google or Dell, whoever it is, it’s not one person for the entire company. It’s a global account, they have many divisions that they’re selling into. Let’s sell our product to this one division and then maybe we can sell that to a different division. Now it’s actually a lot more working with relationships inside that account.

How do I manage? How do I navigate? How do I figure out this deal, it’s a really complex deal. How do I maneuver within that to build that relationship to expand? It could be the case that now I’m in, I sold our flagship product but now I have all these other products that I could be selling to. It may be still someone in Dell North America or Dell America or whatever it is.

There’s another team in there, in that Dell North America that could be using one of our other products. Let’s look at our intelligence tool. In our case, we use Engagio for this. There’s this other buying unit that is interested in this other problem that we solved as well. They might be in the same office as the person you just sold to. How can we leverage the current buying unit that we just sold to to break into this other buying unit?

There’s all these different buying units and really just account-based accounts management, call it strategy, it’s actually huge. When you’re selling to enterprise deals, you could send me plus percent of your business. It could come from expansion, it’s not gonna come from new business.

Marylou: The other thing is this also could help with once you have a product, I’ll mark you with the regional bank here locally, they’re trying to figure out how people move through their product suite. We’re using that intelligence to figure out not only how they came in the door, what product or service, but what’s the logical map of products that we can introduce to them in a very authentic and meaningful way so that when they’re ready, they’re gonna start embodying those other products to increase lifetime value.

Not only leveraging who to speak to within the other areas of the actual company but also what is the natural product progression life cycle of adding more products to the suite so that we maintain lifetime value.

Brandon: Another thing to mention too is Engagio is one of these tools that’s gonna give you this insight into the account. You plug it into SalesForce, or Marketo, or your CRM and your marketing automation system. You put a pixel on your website, you’re hooking up with your Google apps. You’re really tracking all of these different touch points that a customer has with your company.

You’re able to see the deal close and then they’re using this part of the product, your product, but they haven’t even touched this other side yet. This other side of the product is where a lot of people see value. Maybe our customer success team should look into that a little bit more or maybe they’re spending too much time on this one page and they’re stuck there so they haven’t progressed with the full onboarding yet. How do we get this account really successful so that they don’t churn because as you know obviously, in SaaS businesses, retention is a huge part of it.

Marylou: I don’t remember the number, you can correct me, it’s six times more expensive to get a new client than to keep an existing one or something like that. It’s a no brainer to invest in that side of things, it’s not my area of expertise. I have a few clients that are not even focusing on business development, they’re focusing on lifetime value, of continuing to engage the client with more products and services that are meaningful to them at the time they need them, that’s giving them a natural progression of being a long term client. That’s great, I love that.

Brandon: A lot of VCs these days, they actually look at growth less and they look at retention a lot more. What’s your growth retention and what’s your net retention? Are you able to actually expand into your accounts? Is your dollar size going up? Of your logos, how many are those are you actually retaining? That’s actually just as important as a number to VCs these days because they realize how important that is for a company’s success, is retention.

Marylou: We’re getting close to our out of time indicator, tell us what’s on the horizon, your prediction for 2018 and beyond about how this is going to evolve. Where do you see account-based marketing position as we move forward into 2018 and beyond?

Brandon: I actually just published a post yesterday on other people’s predictions. You know what, I didn’t include my own in there.

Marylou: Go edit that thing.

Brandon: This is a really new space, we’re five, seven years into it but it’s so new, it’s so young yet. There are so many technologies popping up and there’s a lot of hype around it. I actually think people are actually gonna get ABM wrong in the next few years. A lot of people are gonna just jump into the bandwagon and blindly do it because they heard another company doing it successfully. I actually think it’s gonna get worse for some companies before it gets better.

I’m very bullish in the long term about account-based marketing and account-based everything, these account-based strategies because I really do think it is the way to go if you’re doing B2B sales and marketing. I think people have to really be careful in the next few years to figure out is this the right thing for our business, in our business model? Does economics makes sense? Let’s make sure I have the foundation in place before I get going with it.

A lot of people, they love to just jump right in with ABM ads and direct mail, whereas if they don’t have the foundation of account matching, making sure all of the leads and contacts are mapped to the right accounts, making sure their sales and marketing are really aligned, making sure that you’ve selected the right accounts from the first place. You have to do all of that before you do the fun, sexy stuff like what’s the most creative package I can send, let’s send them some Dom Perignon and a handwritten note, that’s the fun stuff that people love doing. If you don’t have that foundation, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Marylou: The message here is planning is very important. If there are some tools that we can include in your page, on my website for planning purposes because I’m a big fan of planning versus execution in terms of planning first because planning is cheap other than time and brain power. If you start executing before you have a solid plan, it’s like my house, I have a deck that was built on my house that when it rains, the water goes into the house instead of out because they put the deck quickly and didn’t think about sloping and things like that. Fast forward, we had to replace the entire deck.

I would like to see if we can include on the pages what kind of planning tools, simplified checklists and things that you recommend for us to start because I think account-based marketing is definitely an important part of being a high revenue company. There are different segments of accounts that you wanna master, there’s the minnows, there’s the sharks, there’s the whales.

I think once we understand the relationship between all of those, this type of option makes sense for a lot of companies. I have one client that started with enterprise and is working down which is unusual. I have a lot of companies who are small, medium business working up. They’re trying to get into the enterprise and trying to get account-based marketing going. I think if we can include some of those checklists or point someone in the right direction, it’s like, “How do I plan for this thing? Where should I start?” That would be very helpful for it.

Brandon: We actually have a guide that our co-founder wrote. For people who don’t know, the co-founder of Engagio is also previously the co-founder of Marketo who anyone in the marketing space is gonna know, the biggest player in the market now, automation space. He left Marketo a few years ago after being there for nine years. He left Marketo to start Engagio because he saw this very thing, account-based marketing is the future for B2B marketing.

He put out the definitive or the clear complete guide to account-based marketing. You can get that if you go to engagio.com/abm-guide, you can download it for free there. I think it’s 130 plus pages. It really is everything that you need to know from start to finish. Jon is really all about educating the market right now, it’s not gonna be we’re going to pitch you every other page, there’s hardly even a pitch in there actually. There’s a lot of great information. It’s all foundational, these are all things that you need to do. It’s really your roadmap to getting started with ABM. Of course we write about that on our blog two times a week, engagio.com/blog.

Marylou: Those are great tools. Truly, when we’re working through a new concept like this, understanding the basics, putting together a plan, thinking about your environment because you’re unique and how you sell and the accounts that you service and figuring out where you wanna start. Like I said like we talked today, top of funnel, business development is my passion, it’s what I wake up every morning loving.

There is also cross sell, upsell at the end of the rainbow when you already have the client. This particular type of process and strategy works there equally as well. There’s a couple places you wanna definitely deploy it. If you’re just learning this, starting at the basics of the guide I think is the best way to go. I’ll make sure that that sits inside of your page for the podcast, Brandon. From there, how can people get a hold of you?

Brandon: I think the best way to get a hold of me is if you just go to LinkedIn, I think I’m the only Brandon Redlinger. There might be imposters out there, I don’t know. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or just shoot me an email at brandon@engagio.com. I’m always happy to chat with people.

Marylou: You do a lot of posts, I would definitely signup if you’re interested in doing this. Sign up and learn from them because there’s a lot of great material out there. The smarter you are and the more prepared you are when you go into your planning sessions, the more successful you’ll be on execution. Brandon, thank you so much for your time today. I wish you a very happy holiday. I look forward to seeing what you guys do in 2018.

Brandon: Thank you so much.