с Даниилом Гридиным
Account Based Marketing - руководство к применению

Alex: OK, let's begin. Hello, everyone again. And today we have Dan with us. And if you see the topic it's Account-Based Marketing and huge IT deals which everyone is interested in. So, hi Dan. How're you feeling today?

Dan: Hi, Alex. Thanks for having me. I'm doing great! I'm looking forward to this interview.

Alex: OK. So, I guess not everybody knows you. I remember you from about ten years ago after you've been already a guest on the conference. And I was impressed, I came and asked some questions. It was fun. Not everybody knows you. Basically what do you do and how long do you do it? What's your specialty?

Dan: So, my specialization, my era of expertise is lead generation for very narrow but high-ticket b2b niches. If your total addressable markets and the total amount of companies that can buy anything from you is, let's say, less than 500, I'm your guy because when you're working with small markets the typical lead generation strategies for b2b just don't work, and you need to do something special. That's when my methodologies come in place. So, I think we'll the opportunity to speak it today. Of course, big IT deal, I think, it's what interests everybody on this call.

Alex: OK, so, I know that you've worked with some crazy awesome companies such as Kaspersky lab, Dassault which are IT companies you worked with. What was you favorite IT client?

Dan: Actually, there were and there is a lot of them and they range, as you've already mentioned…they range from big names Kasperky lab, Dassault systems to some niche, narrowly specialized IT firms that work, for a example, in security fields and IT outsource, but of course we're speaking about higher IT outsourcing. And I don't think that I can name what's my favorite IT client because you're working with big enterprises you can work with some massive projects, yeah? And there big budgets are involved, the scale is very interesting, but if I work with big enterprise the decision-making processes sometimes are very long, it takes sometimes a few weeks or maybe a few months to perform some basic campaign. And when you work with a small enterprise, small business, we start well, everything is very quick, you can decide, you can create something, and you can implement it tomorrow. That's very motivating for me also. So, I can't tell that I prefer to work with enterprise or with small business. I like to combine them.

Alex: OK, so, to make the audience more acquainted to you I will ask you a few questions. Just to know you a little bit better as a person. First of all, I know that you play drums.

Dan: I do. I do.

Alex: I've just watched you on your Youtube channel. You didn't play drums there, I was looking forward to it.

Dan: But I was in the music studio, near the drums. So, this actually makes me aware. I think if you've heard me playing we won't have this interview.

Alex: OK, can share any other crazy or interesting facts about you, which you like?

Dan: Yes, you can. I participated in a Coffee Championship. I think it was six or seven years ago.

Alex: Coffee Championship?

Dan: Coffee Championship, yeah. You know there are baristas…

Did you drink?

I made and of course, I drank it.

Alex: And you won.

Dan: And I was like the only one non-professional barista in the contest. Of course, I didn't finish anywhere near the top-3, but I wasn't the last. I think I was eighth or ninth out of twelve, so, actually I did very good. Now I can brag about it, so I actually participated in a real Coffee Championship. It's a good conversation starter. I still love coffee but…

Alex: Everyone loves coffee, so you can always talk about something. The topic I've mentioned… like, me coming to you to talk after some conference. Is there any crazy story that happened to you before or after a conference? Maybe some people surrounding you, asking questions or anything in particular that was funny or stumbling? Anything like this. Because I know you participate in conferences, you talk about b2b sales, about account-based marketing. So, what it's like to be a conference star or something like this?

Dan: It's an interesting question, actually. I think that one of my most thrilling experiences concerning speaking on the conference when I was participating in marketing festival in Czech Republic. I think it was two or three years ago. And it was in theatre. You know, when you're working with the theatre, somebody sits on the balcony, some people are higher, some people are lower. And you don't see them because you're in the theatre, so all the lights are in your eyes. During my presentation, I had this. I think there is still a video in Youtube, where I performed these exercises. So, I wanted to demonstrate one thing concerning the market segmentation. And in order for this stuff to work I needed everybody to stand up. You just need to imagine it. I think it was around…

Alex: Yes, I've seen that video.

Dan: So, it was around 1,000 people in the room. And, yeah, I asked everybody to stand up. And the truth is that I didn't know if they're standing up or if they're just sitting. So, I just need you to stand up! And I was just hoping that they're standing up, I didn't see them. You can see in the video I was like a blind guy or the guy who forgot his glasses. I just don't see you, come on, I just hope that you'll stand up, yeah. But I think it worked out well.

Alex: Yeah, you're trying to find companies that were buying domains for sell.

Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I just wanted to demonstrate to one or two persons in the room that they owned like 50% of the domain name. So, in order to do this, I asked everybody to stand up. And the people who have less than eight domain names they sit down, sit down, sit down. But once again, I didn't see anybody. I was just hoping that everything was fine.

Alex: Yeah, that went well. I think that illustrated one of the topics we want to cover today, it's, for a example, if some scarce companies are looking at us right now or smaller companies which don't have huge deals. And there, you told us that you can always find a customer which is a whale of sorts, who is a bigger…

Dan: Yeah, because it's not all leads are created equal even if they are so called marketing qualified, they're still guys that can bring you…

Alex: Yes.

Dan: …50% of your overall turnover.

Alex: Exactly. So, the key accounts, they're usually called so, I think. Maybe you can help companies to find them, focus on them, reach them eventually.

Dan: Actually, that's what I do for a living. So, it's what you asked me.

Alex: How long have you been focusing on b2b? I don't know anyone else who focuses on such a…strongly one niche.

Dan: It's an interesting question, because I've been focusing on this niche for my whole career. So, I think it's 14 years. Yeah, I think 14 or 15, something like this. So, the day I started to do marketing projects, I started with b2b long sales cycle and long decision-making process, decision-making unit. I think I was lucky.

Alex: What was the highest beating, I mean the highest deal, the highest amount of a deal that you helped to organize with, I don't know, millions of dollars? What was the biggest one?

Dan: I would say 1,000,000…110,000,000.

Alex: 110,000,000 dollars?

Dan: Yeah, yeah, But I don't think it's correct that I created this deal.

Alex: You participated.

Dan: Yeah, I participated. I conducted like the first several stages of the deal. And then it was painstaking. I don't remember, maybe it was a year or maybe it were two years of negotiation and I wasn't involved. So, yeah, the first step – it was mine. But then…

Alex: Sounds good.

Dan: …yeah, they could work for themselves.

Alex: I hope you got 10%.

Dan: No, in fact I didn't. I was very young, I was very stupid, and I'm still a bit but then I just didn't have any idea. I think I made 3,000 dollars something like this. It's embarrassing to say, but I think something close.

Alex: Yeah, the final question of these first ones was biggest professional fail that eventually made you more professionally stronger. But this doesn't sound like this guy can fail.

Dan: Actually, it's two for the price of one. You know, it's very effective.

Alex: OK, let's go back to the main topic which is account-based marketing.

Dan: Yeah, but it was like one per cent.

Alex: Yeah, that sounds nice. So, basically, account-based marketing.

Alex: Does everyone know what it is? I mean, do your clients know what is account-based marketing, how it works. Or do you have to explain it every time?

Dan: Actually, I try not to use this term because I try to avoid this, you know, overhyped marketing words. Frankly speaking, the ABM concept has been around for decades. I remember reading sales manuals from IBM, they were from the early eighties. Eighties! And they had this account-based terminology because there was no Internet, no targeting on Facebook or in LinkedIn. So, the concept was there. You had like an account team, a marketing person, a sales person, account manager, and you have, I don't know, set of 40-50 target accounts, and your only job is to land them, to expand them, to nurture them. That's your target accounts. You don't try to generate blitz from the whole market, you have this very finite set of accounts and you work with them. So, in the recent years it's the renaissance of account-based because we have the new technology, we can do a lot of things digitally, all of this. Actually, everybody who was in the marketing automation business, guys from Marketo, guys from Eloqua, and all the other marketing automation vendors, they're now creating something like account-based-ish. For a example, John Miller who was a cofounder of Marketo, now is the co-founder of an Account-Based Platform Engagio. Sangram Vajre, who was a CMO at Pardot now is a co-founder of Terminus, another ABM platform.

Alex: Does it help?

Dan: It does, but the truth is you don't need to invest in this rather expensive because we're talking about tens and thousands of dollars for a year.

Alex: You can start manually, basically. So, you don't need to start.

Dan: So, you don't need to start.

Alex: Can I just stop you for a second here. Let's say I have a company, whatever…

Actually, if somebody from the chat wants to participate, we can do that.

Alex: Yeah, that would be fun.

Dan: If somebody wants to play.

Alex: Yeah, let's play a game. Anyway, judging from what I've seen in those videos…by the way, guys, you can google them and watch some of his videos and google his LinkedIn account, he has some fun articles. Anyway, so, judging from I understood you prioritize your clients' key accounts and then you send them champagne.

Dan: Yeah, that's exactly what I do, yes. This is the whole thing.

Alex: And then you automate the process. So, I get this champagne part, although it might seem like…

Dan: It's fun.

Alex: … like a bribe of source? Let's talk about this. I was writing a thesis, this PhD in marketing ethics. By the way, I was teaching marketing in the university, when I was young.

Dan: Oh, really?

Alex: Yeah. I'm like in an ethics committee, for a example, of a company or whatever. How do you justify sending someone gifts to take their attention? What do you say to your clients how efficient is this? And how clients of these accounts, how do they feel about receiving basically presents from a person they don't know?

Dan: Actually, it's a nice thing to start from the compliance. But actually, a several times I faced the compliance issue. For a example, one time we had a…(indistinct)… campaign for one IT company. And we're sending…

Alex: Darth Vader mask.

Dan: Yeah, yeah, Darth Vader helmets. And the decision-maker for this deal was…

Alex: A girl.

Dan: No. It was a chief informational security officer, actually, top IT security guy. And of course, there was a lot Star Wars, and the campaign was a very big success, but we received one response from the company, it's the German company which'll remain nameless. But we received like a letter, the official letter. We got the mask back. And very politely this idea was we appreciate your ways of generate new business, but we can't accept it because it violates our rule number blah-blah…Something like this.

Alex: So, how do you not cross the line? Because I think in Europe people take presents rather seriously. I've heard about some, I don't know, presents issues with companies let's say. How do you not cross the line when choosing these presents? How do you make them fun and bring interest and not bring some kind of weirdness to it?

Actually, that's interesting that we start from the…

Alex: I'm talking…

Dan: It's the most fun, how to direct campaigns, how to get them…

Alex: I've heard…that was in one of your profiles DHL guy, kind of joking.

Dan: Yeah, I'm not for that because it's the universal way to get them.

Alex: Basically, in the age of Internet people start to forget about being physical in direct mailing. So, do you use it in most of your clients? Is it the universal rule try reaching people through the direct mail?

Dan: Maybe I should finish with the compliance perks, and then we'll switch to the other topics concerning…

Alex: You can talk about both perks.

Dan: Yeah, so, finishing about compliance. Every country and every company, talking about big enterprise, they have their own compliance like staff, papers. In some countries there's a law, for a example, there are governmentalish agencies or companies, there's a limitation, I don't know, it's 50 bucks. So, everything which is more than 50 bucks they can't accept. And the thing is that your grabber. I don't like to call it a gift. For me it's just a grabber, to grab an attention. It's important that your grabber is somehow connected to the message that you want to send. So, you're not just sending champagne, you're…

Alex: How was that Vader's mask connected?

Dan: When I was sending champagne, it wasn't quite champagne. It was English sparkling wine. And I was sending it because it was produced near the town where the decision-maker that I wanted to meet with, his high school was in that city. It was Sussex, England. And near Sussex they do some English sparkling wine. I'm a bit of a wine guy. My wife, she is like professional wine expert, so, I know something about the wine. And now because of the global warming some decent wine is made in England, and in Sussex there is a decent producer. And we sent the bottle from Sussex sparkling wine to the guy who got his education, who went to the high school in Sussex. So, that's the whole point. We're not talking about sending champagne to everybody! So, it was very…

Alex: Guys, don't take it.

Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Don't take it literally. So, speaking about compliance, if your gift is relevant, you're not sending, I don't know, just an IPhone. So, here is an IPhone, let's have a meet. No. You're sending something that's very tightly connected with the message that you want to deliver. And this, well, minimizes any chances of your getting to the compliance department. And speaking about that Darth Vader campaign, I think it was 70 or 80 per cent of conversion to the meeting, everybody loved it. Because all the IT guys love Star Wars.

Alex: OK, so, did the wine help though? Was it…

Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We didn't get the deal, in the end, but…

Alex: It brought attention. It's the main thing you do. I had a question. Was it the first action? I mean, for a example, you've found some address, you've done your research, you've found the address of the person. Do you start by researching and sending him something as the first contact? Or do you contact him before like with white paper or something like this, so his knows from whom is the champagne. Who's trying to…

Dan: That's a great question, Alex because when somebody engages with my content, if he or she is not very attentive to the details, they think that you can send…so, there's a company that you want to get into, you send them like a case with champagne, and you got the deal. So, it's one, two, three, ladies and gentlemen. B2b market isn't for dummies. But in fact, in reality, it doesn't work like this because before you send something, before you write a letter, or before you make any touch you need to do an extensive research. So, the thing with working with a higher-end deal sent with small total addressable market is that, frankly speaking, you can't make a lot of mistakes. Because, you know, if you're selling some scarce solution for a very wide target market, you test stuff. You can test this, you can oh, this stuff didn't work. Oh we burnt 100 leads, oops, let's do something else. But if your total addressable market is 50 companies in the whole world…you remember before the call we talked about the guy, your friend that sells equipment to the oil manufacturers.

Alex: Yeah.

Dan: How many oil manufacturers are there in the world?

Alex: Security service to oil manufacturers, yeah. We only have like…

Dan: You know them, you name it, if you're making some mistakes if your lead generation is sloppy, if you don't position yourself correctly, you're dead in the water. So, you can just go and start a new business. That's a problem.

Alex: How not to make mistakes?

Dan: Oh, yeah. Actually, the answer is very simple and it's not 'sexy' because you have to make an extensive research. So, before speaking about the champagne guy, yes. So, before sending the stuff, I think it was about three or four hours of research for one person.

Alex: What instrument…you're reading his profiles in social media; where he was born?

Dan: It wasn't me, it was like a junior analysts from the client's side. But, you know, all was natural. We read his interview, his LinkedIn profiles, his updates, Facebook feeds; so, everything that you can put your hands on. Some Youtube videos, for a example, if the guy is the speaker from the company, you can watch them. And it takes time because you can during you follow up or during your first outreach, you can mention something that guy said on the conference; and this will be very relevant touch point. And, actually, for speaking about like a cheaper way to get into ABM you don't need to go like champagne just right away. You can use some ABM personalization in your digital outreach. You can use when you're reading somebody on LinkedIn; not just, hello, can you, please, add me to your network. You can reference some Youtube video, you can reference something that is important for the person that you want to get in touch with. It will dramatically improve your conversion rates.

Alex: Yeah. So, basically you mentioned the topic of identifying. Like, in the information age. You've mentioned the topic identifying those key figures because in a big company when there is a big client, there is usually more than one person that you can target.

Dan: Yup.

Alex: But how you identify those if they're not in LinkedIn, if they're not straight given to you easily. What methods could be used to understand who is the exact person or persons you need to find? How do you find those among the clients?

Dan: OK, gotcha. First, you should understand that there's no such thing as 'the person' in b2b big deals.

That's just what I said, 'the persons'.

Dan: I don't remember the exact source of the research but it's the reliable one; and it said that…I think, in 2017 it was, it wasn't even 2018…the average size of the decision-making unit in a b2b deal is, as far as I remember, 7,8 people, in the decision-making unit.

Alex: And how to affect all of them? How do you choose…

Dan: You identify the decision-makers that will benefit from implementation of your solution, depending on what you're selling. So, we're speaking of the IT here but, I don't know, maybe the chief marketing officer will be the beneficiary of your solution if it's something market related; or it can be the sales guy, or it will be somebody in finance, then there's somebody from the IT; then there're some other departments. You need to understand who will most probably take part in discussing, in discussing your offer. I understand that everybody wants to…who's the guy? And we'll write him, we'll get it all to figure out. But the reality is that sometimes you need to write, to connect with several decision-makers simultaneously. My record is…and I think I wrote about it in LinkedIn…it was more than 20, I think. Oh, no. sorry! It was 17; 17 decision-makers in one company. So, I wrote 17 different letters to 17 different people in one company.

Alex: Were they personalized?

Sergey: Sorry, guys.

Sergey: First of all, Laima Jokste: 'Great that this topic is being covered. Too little info on abm for large deals and sales cycles out there.' And the question from her: 'Question is HOW to identify. Not WHO it is.'

Dan: OK, I can go to the feed.

Alex: Basically, yeah. I can explain. She's asking how to identify not WHO is the person. Like we've said who's the person, is it chief marketing manager; but HOW in the meaning how do we find him, maybe?

Dan: How do we find him? Actually…

Alex: Is it correct? Can you explain?

Dan: OK. So, let me talk a little bit about my background and the b2b market in the country that I came from. You know, if you're born in the US and you're doing b2b marketing in the US, everything is pretty simple. There's LinkedIn or if you don't want to use LinkedIn, or for some crazy reason the decision-makers from your target account are not allowed in LinkedIn, there is a great service discover.org; it will help you to create a work chart for the target account you want to work with. But if you're doing a b2b marketing, let's say, in Russia you don't have this stuff. You have nobody in the Internet and, actually, the only reliable source of getting any insight about the decision-maker is the old school telemarketing. But you don't need to get to the decision-maker, you're not selling over the phone; you're calling the company and it's no joke. You're asking, hello! Who's like responsible for this, this, and this. And that's how you org chart…

Alex: And that's…

Dan: Sorry?

Alex: The secret methods like, OK. This is my acquaintance, not lying…

Dan: No, no, no. You can find some data in the web, so, there's something, yes. Maybe somebody work in this company, maybe he's not still working here but you can reference him in your call; and then you just learn more, more, and more about the target account. In three to four calls, you get a kind of a picture of what's going on in the key account. Yeah, I understand that sounds a bit crazy for our friends from Western Europe, from the US, but that's how it's still being done in some countries where LinkedIn has very little penetration.

Alex: OK, let me try summarize what we have right now, So, basically, know your market, know your client, and then know among the client who's the top-10, top-20 per cent of the whales. Then you have to find those people through LinkedIn, through social media, through whatever means you can. You can call the company to identify them. And then…

Dan: Yeah, that's important to understand that we're not calling to the decision-makers. We're trying just to get the info, even using some social engineering. Actually, there's this great book. I don't think that a lot of folks remember him still. But there was a great hacker named Kevin Mitnick. He was very big like 15 or 20 years ago. He did his time in a jail; and then when he was released, he became like a security consultant and he wrote this book about social engineering. The main idea of the book was that…

Alex: 90% is done…

Dan: 90% of the hacking is done through social engineering. You're not penetrating the Internet or something like this. You just know the girl from the reception who tells you the password. That what's going on.

Alex: Exactly.

And it is still going on.

Alex: OK, so.

Dan: And I'm not saying that you need to use these tactics to hack like…

Alex: You can, but you don't have to.

Dan: …but you can use it to gain some insights, to get some data. I understand that it may sound strange but if we're talking about multimillion deals here, you can spend this time in order to get more information.

Alex: So, you do your research, you call, and then you make the messages as targeted as possible and you send the champagne, right?

Dan: Not really, because…

Alex: No, it's not the first…

Dan: … let's just visualize the timeline here, yeah. So, we're having the list of targeted accounts; we know we want to get client X, client Y, and client Z. Then we understand the decision-making unit for our solution, for our product. Maybe we found it on LinkedIn, maybe we made some ethical hacking campaign, using the technics, let's say, from Kevin Mitnick's book, or something like this. And now what we need to do is to tie, to connect our offer, our message with the pains and the needs of the target decision-maker because it's very important. We are…yeah, it's one product but it's chief information officer, somebody from sales, marketing, finance. You need to present them different benefits and, let's say, different sides from your offering; because…so, it's not about sending the same pitch to all the decision-makers. Because with CIO you need to talk about some technical stuff; with the marketing ones you need to talk about the marketing benefits; with guys from the finance you need to talk about ROI. And you need to understand what are the features and the benefits of your product will be beneficial for the person that you're trying to connect with. And then you should create what's called an elevator pitch. I think everybody knows what an elevator pitch is. It's like one or two minutes of presentation or of what you're trying to offer; you need to create these elevator pitches for every decision-maker and every decision-making unit. This elevator pitch will be the anchor of your champagne campaign if you will. Yeah, once again, it's not about sending champagne or Darth Vader mask, or what have you. It's about…

Alex: I mean…

Dan: …delivering the elevator speech.

Alex: Is this elevator speech delivered at the meeting, or in a mail?

Dan: No. It's delivered via your first touch.

From the first touch.

Dan: Yeah. I'm Mr..I'm from this company…and that's what we have to offer. We use all these direct mail grabbers, all these gifts, all these big boxes just to get the attention. Imagine how many…actually, everybody on the sales training that is dedicated to e-mail outreach or LinkedIn outreach tells about these things; so, a typical executive has hundreds of messages in his inbox daily, and it's very hard to get through this mass. And if you're doing direct mail, you stand out. This box of champagne, or what have you, buys you sixty to ninety seconds of somebody's undivided attention. It's not buying you an hour, it's not buying you half an hour, it's not even buying you five minutes…

Alex: …they will just read the mail…

Dan: …yeah, they will read your mail, and if they think that it can be interesting for them and there is some benefit or merit in your offer, they will accept your, I don't know, conference call invitation, or you'll have a meeting, or something like that.

Alex: So, we're speaking about IT, and it probably means a conference call...

Dan: …a conf call, yeah.
Alex: Do you help companies with sales as well? Like, do you help companies to make ready their sales conversations, or do you just finish where their salesperson starts talking?

Dan: I would say 80% marketing and lead generation and 20% sales, because you know, if you're doing account-based campaigns, there is no sales handoff. If you're doing some typical, let's say, lead generation, there is a defined handoff moment when the lead is generated through, let's say, a web form, it's nurtured for marketing automation, sales say, okay, it's sales-ready, and then there is a hand-off – marketing hands the lead off to the sales, and that's it.

If you're doing account-based [marketing], you're always working together, so when I implement the account-based methodology in client projects, we create like a separate team that consists of a sales person, a marketing person, and they work on the target accounts and every action is synchronized. Very often…I think you got it as…a lot of guys try to sell your stuff, I think?

Alex: Yeah, of course.

Have you ever been in a situation when you're talking with the sales guy from a company – negotiating a deal or something like that – and suddenly you get absolutely irrelevant mass mail from the same company that is offering you something you didn't even…just something strange. Like, what was it? I'm already talking to you…

Alex: I saw samples like these on social media. Like, why would you sell me this kind of s**t?

Dan: Yeah. And if you're doing account-based [marketing], you can't afford it. Every contact and every touch is orchestrated, it's synchronized, and everybody knows what everybody's doing. We have this big map; when it's a targeted account, it's on this stage, now we're doing this, then you're writing this, I'm calling him with this offer, then we're having a meeting, then you're doing a whitepaper, here we go.

Alex: What stage…You almost sounded…You sound like a professional when you're speaking about stuff…it sounds easy in general, but…

Dan: Of course.

Alex: …but in detail, everything is difficult. So, when you come to help some companies, where do they struggle most? I mean, what is the biggest challenge? Is it to find, to identify, to keep (possibly a missing word – note), or just the conversation?

Dan: No, no, and no. The biggest challenge is to sell…actually, it's the switch from the traditional inbound lead generation approach to the account-based. You need to sell the idea to…you can't implement account-based campaigns only with marketing – you need to involve sales, you need to work on the sales vs. marketing issues that are very strong in B2B as you know…

Alex: And even some high-ranking people need to be involved?

Dan: Yeah, you need to sell this to the executives. When you get the buy-in from all parties involved, it's very easy, it really is. But selling the stuff…

Alex: …they are just afraid that it will take too many resources from them, or something like that. Okay, it works as inbound marketing – we pay Facebook for advertisement or something like this, and then we have to change it altogether in order to be super-personal, and they are afraid that it will cost them a fortune. Why are they afraid? Is it that the ends don't justify the means? What's the issue with it?

Dan: It's a good question. I think it's that they just got used to working in the same manner for like five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years, and now somebody comes in and says: 'No, guys, we're not doing lead generation anymore – in a traditional way – we're doing account-based; no, we're not trying to target the whole market – we select fifty or one hundred target accounts, and we're spending money only to be near them.

That's a very dramatic change, and not everybody and not every company is ready for it…

Alex: …baby steps…

Dan: …so you need to implement some micro pilot projects just to try things out and to show that this thing is working, and…

Alex: Can you give us a case or an example when it happened and it was a success? Deal acceleration. That was actually one of the questions I had.

Dan: We've got to do acceleration campaigns…

Alex: I think the question from Andrey is very interesting – about how you accelerate – because those big sales are very long and can take several years. Does this approach help accelerate, and how do you do this?

Dan: Andrey is actually a very astute marketer, and this is a great question. So, in a nutshell – what Andrey is asking is…this is what I call Pimp My Ride. Do you know this old MTV series when you take an old rusty car and make it into a…

Alex: …and you put TVs on it.

…yeah. And it's the same deal. Sometimes you're talking to a manager…actually, he's not quite a decision-maker, but he's not a nobody in an organization, like a mid-level guy who has some influence on the decision-maker; so, they are not a person who will make the final decision. He or she will transfer the information about your project to their superior, and you will not be present during these negotiations. Okay? So, I'm talking to you, Alex, and you report to Sergey. And you tell him "hey Sergey, we have this ABM initiative from the guy in a suit, I think we should think about." And the thing is, I don't control what you're saying to Sergey, yeah? So, I influenced…I sold you on the idea, but now you need to sell it to Sergey…

Alex: …so you are not trying to go over my head.

Dan: Of course, because if you influence the decision-making, if I go straight to Sergey, he will tell you "Alex, check this out, this guy approached me." Why am I in charge of this operation, and why is he not talking to me? You just sabotage the project, and there will be no deal. It's actually a mistake that a lot of guys make – they just jump up as high as they can get, and it's a big, big mistake.

Don't all books teach you to go straight to the decision-maker?

Dan: Well…

Alex: But you say otherwise.

Dan: Sometimes it's very big mistake. But, in order to take care of this situation, it's a wise decision to create some marketing materials, for example, I can help you to create a slide deck that you will show to Sergey, and in the slide deck there will be a presentation of the project that I am…

So the point is, you help me, because I am also interested in it.

Dan: Yeah.

Alex: You can help me do the deal.

Dan: Yeah. And if understood Andrey's question correctly, I will try to coach the project driver, this mid-level manager who will then influence the decision-maker. I will coach him on the best way to present my solution and I will not try to jump to his superior. I may, if I have the budget and technological stack at my disposal, try to run some account-based ads for this company, for this company's IP range in order for the decision-maker to know that yeah, there is this company, we've just talked about it, they are real guys et cetera. But, I'll do my best to coach the influencer to communicate the benefits of my solution to his superior.

Sometimes I would pay the presentation coach, I would pay the guys who make slide decks 'cos once again – if it's a multi-million dollar deal, it's a bearable expense. Of course, if you're selling sauce for, like, a hundred bucks per month, they'll say "this guy is just crazy", but if we're talking about the big deals, it's what you need to do.

Alex: We have one question from the comments, and then we can…

Dan: …wrap this up.

Alex: Yeah, wrap this up, and I will ask you to give some advice or something. Basically, the question is – there was a comment before about platforms like DemandBase, Terminus or N.Rich which help qualify leads, and navigator does this as well. What do you think about the sales navigator, DemandBase, Terminus or N.Rich?

Dan: Let's separate the wheat from the chaff. If we're talking about the sales navigator, yeah – sometimes, if it's a mature market where everybody is in LinkedIn, you can target the entire organizational structure with the help of a navigator. I'll use sales navigator to understand what's going on in the company, who is on this position, who is on that position, but my preference is going physical – my preference is using direct mail to reach the target accounts. You know, it's crazy, but if you compare the cost per click in LinkedIn and the cost of delivering by DHL or Fedex (delivery services) to the decision maker, it is not that big of a difference…

Alex: …fifty bucks per clicks, or fifty bucks per…

Dan: …easily! Easily! So you can pay fifty bucks per click on LinkedIn, or you can deliver some gift for the same fifty bucks. Okay, we subtract fifteen for the delivery, it's thirty five bucks, and you still can do a lot of stuff with this money.

Alex: Much more value, yeah, much more value.

Dan: And if you compare the effect, it's just…it's obvious that you need to go physical.

Alex: …yeah, about those…

Dan: Yeah, speaking about Terminus. I know these platforms, they are all great, but it's a rather hefty barrier of entry because we're talking 50, 60, 70, 80 thousand dollars…and we're not talking about the account-based budget for the advertisement – we're speaking only about the platform here. So, it's a big barrier of entry. Of course, if we compare the development of this account-based technology with, say, marketing automation – because I remember the times when marketing automation software had a crazy barrier of entry – all the ABM platforms will become, I wouldn't say cheaper, but less and less expensive, but right now it's a very big barrier of entry, especially if you're not, like, Tesla or something.

Alex: Have you ever used them? Did you get results? It's the question from Arseniy. Or maybe do you know someone who uses them?

Dan: I've used some of them. Actually, what I would say is that it's not about a platform, and I don't think it's good decision-making to start with a platform. You need to do something…you know that Getting Things Done author, David Allen? He gives a great piece of advice – if you can't write down stuff that you need to do on a piece of paper and then do it, no amount of software will help you. You can buy Omnifocus, you can buy Things, you can buy all kinds of software – if you can't write it down and do it, no amount of software will help you. The same thing about ABM – if you can't do it, like, bare bones, using a phone, a laptop…

Alex: …you have to know what you're doing…

Dan: …a client e-mail, and a guy from DHL…

Alex: …you have to have an accounting culture…

Dan: …Terminus, N.Rich, Demandbase won't help you – you have to do it in a manual regime, I would say, and then automate it with some tools.

Alex: …first the results, and then automation. Okay, and the last question – maybe you can give some advice to people who are starting to make their account management better; what would be your first – and last – advice, to end our conversation?

Dan: What's account management? What are the first steps that you want to do to implement the account-based approach? Are we speaking about that?

Alex: Yes. If I'm looking to implement the account-based approach in my IT company, is there any kind of advice you could give? Something in general, it doesn't have to be something crazy.

Dan: Just for the sake of fun – of course, you're not thinking seriously about implementing ABM – choose five or maybe ten dream accounts. If I sell my stuff to this company – of course, it has to be real, it can't be, like, Apple Computers, because you have nothing to sell to Apple Computers. We're talking about some big and lucrative accounts but who can benefit from what you have to offer. You select these five or ten target accounts, and you start profiling. Every day, just thirty minutes of profiling – okay, here is this guy, I'll write him down; this guy, this guy, this guy. Start to create some account insights, I don't know – create a file in Evernote or I don't know what software you use for storing this kind of stuff. Some press releases, some news; I can go to this guy with this, and then, after a week or two, you are ready to craft an offer. Send an e-mail, or, if you want to go big, buy this champagne or what have you. For example, I'm not wearing cuff links today, but I have these Manchester United cuff links 'cos I'm a big fan. If you know that a guy is a fan of some hockey team, a basketball team or, I don't know, some sports activity, you can tie your message to this theme. For example – I don't remember the name of the website, but it sells these autographed pucks and basketballs signed by famous players, and they are 100% authentic, and you get the certificate that this puck is from [Alexander] Ovechkin. You can use it as a grabber. Yeah, it's not cheap, it's a couple hundred bucks, but it's worth it, if you know what you're doing.

Start small – no automation, no expensive software. When trying to do ABM, everybody goes like "oh, I need to shadow, a demo call with all the software vendors." It's not the right way to start.

Alex: So, select the accounts and do something fun and crazy.

Dan: Just try to reach them…

Alex: Try to reach them, try to meet them, see how it goes.

Dan: …how it works out. And then, if you start to see some merit, if you see that yeah, it's something that we could do, then you can think about something more systematic. Until then, just try, just try.

Alex: Okay. Well, thanks Dan, I think we're out of time. It's been very interesting. I hope that those who watched the video can comment later. We can answer all the questions in the comments. Thanks a lot, Dan. Thank you for being with us today.

Dan: Thank you for having me, it was a blast.

Alex: It was fun.

Sergey: Okay guys, thank you very much. Thanks everyone who is watching us on Facebook. Please like us, like our page…Thank you very much again. It was our first time, and I think that we should make something like a workshop about account-based marketing because it's a very interesting topic and very important for…

Alex: It's important for IT, yeah.

Everyone: Thank you very much guys. Bye-bye.
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