Bryant Pulecio and Theresa Woodiel work for Deep Instinct. Bryant is the Director of Web & Digital Strategy, while Theresa is the Director, of ABM and Integrated Marketing.
Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.
This week, I am sharing a conversation I had with Bryant Pulecio and Theresa Woodiel.
I had this conversation back in November, believe it or not. But it's so prevalent and relevant. And I actually reorganized things a little bit, because I think it goes hand in hand and falls in nicely with some of the conversations I've been having around what it means to live in a cookieless world, what it means to have AI at our fingertips, and what it means to curate the right content for the right audience. And this conversation brings both of those things together in a really tactical way. What Saren was talking about and what Kathryn has been talking about is going to help you actually execute this in terms of account-based
Bryant and Theresa both work for Deep Instinct. They are partners in crime, so to speak. Bryant is more on the technical side of ABM, while Theresa is more on the strategy and brand side.
The beauty of this conversation is that you're going to get to hear both sides of what you need to make this thing happen. ABM can feel kind of vapor-weary. You can't touch it, feel it, or know where to start. It also feels very expensive with a lot of overhead, but they make it feel possible. And with where technology is going and with where we need to rise to the occasion of living in a cookieless world and getting back to first-party cookies, this is a great episode to help you think about how you might start approaching account-based marketing.
A little bit about each of them.
So Bryant Pulecio has 15 years of experience in and around web and MarTech. He's certified in Inbound Marketing, Growth-Driven Design, Optimizely, Marketo, and Demandbase, with expertise in Web, Google Analytics, SEO, Paid Search, ABM, and various other digital marketing tactics. Again, he's very clearly the tactical one. He also ranges from enterprise B2B to B2C e-commerce startups across multiple verticals. So while he's now in cybersecurity, he has learned a lot from all these other industries, and he's bringing that into deep instinct and the ABM world. That's one of the challenges with ABM; ABM really doesn't work unless you have a solid tech stack to back it up, and he's going to walk you through what he's got going on.
On the flip side of this conversation, we have Theresa Woodiel, who's his partner; as I said, they're partners in terms of ABM, and she's more of a strategic thinker. She figures out how to get the right message in front of the right person. She's got the ICP down, she's got the voice down, and she understands what her audience really needs in order to help them make that sprint, make those decisions faster, and become that first-party cookie for y'all. I'm looking forward to hearing it. Let's jump on in.
Here's my conversation with Bryant and Theresa.
Kerry Guard: Theresa and Bryant, thank you so much for joining me on Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders. I'm so excited to have you. Before we dive into our conversation around account-based marketing, which we are going to unpack in-depth, before we get there, tell me, starting with you, Theresa, what's your story? What do you do, and how did you get there?
Theresa Woodiel: I'm the director of ABM and integrated marketing here at Deep Instinct. In terms of how I got here, it's by way of multiple startups and enterprises. I started doing ABM before we had a fanciful name for it. This would have been 15 years ago, or maybe even longer, when we had accounts that we considered whales, and we were trying to break into those whales. On the flip side of that, we had our transactional business, and that was equally important. And so it's more the account side of it that looks a little different in terms of firmographic standard graphics, and then what you're trying to do is land and expand, but that's probably kind of a short story of how I got out here.
Kerry Guard: Bryant, what's your story? What do you do? And how did you get to where you are? How did marketing find you?
Bryant Pulecio*: I found marketing. I'm the director of web and digital strategy. It's not all that uncommon for most people to get started in their career or figure out which major they want to go down, but I was unsure. Initially, I was a business major and found my way somewhere along the lines. And like macroeconomics, figuring out that this was not really for me was kind of going a little over my head. And I found my way into a multimedia program, where I learned a more practical approach to how to build websites, design them, and learn a lot of other things from graphic design, user interface, and typography. And that's where I got started in my career: building websites, agencies, and even freelance engineering teams. And then I found my way onto a marketing team, maybe about 10 years ago, a little bit more. There was a startup that needed to rebuild their website, and they wanted someone in house to not only rebuild it but also manage it going forward. So I took the step in, and I rebuilt it, but then you're not rebuilding the site every single month. So then, after that point, there was also kind of this explosion of MarTech happening around that same time as well.
It was really a good point in time, the right place, and the right time to be in this position to be a more technical person in marketing to start to learn, absorb, and handle all of these different pieces. Small startup humanity, wears a lot of different hats, so I built the website, and did the AV testing. We had HubSpot, landing pages, email, and the website in there. I did a lot of things. It's kind of to Theresa's point before marketing operations was even a term. And so along the way, in my career, it's been pretty heavy on the website side of things, but with a big passion on the marketing technology side as well. It's been a balance of different roles along the way, sometimes more on the web side of things than I would like, but always with an eye on marketing technology and learning as much as I could in that area, even when it wasn't part of my main responsibilities.
Coming into Deep Instinct, the role really excited me because it was really an opportunity to take ownership of both sides there and the opportunity presented to us. We joined a little bit more than a year and a half ago, and we had the opportunity to rebuild the stack, however we wanted it; we had a blank slate. And so that's the company. It was exciting, and I was just taking all of the pieces of knowledge that I've learned over my career and really embarking on this series of research projects for each type of product. We had marketing automation and HubSpot in place. We review that and say, "Well, it does what we need to do for now." "Let's move on to the next category and at a cost-effective price point." We looked at various pieces of tools there, and we built the stack. Theresa and I had worked together at a previous company, and she joined about a month and a half after I did. And then we started diving into the pieces of the ABM technology stack together. We ended up going with demand base on there, and we launched it to MVP status in four or five weeks and really just tried to deliver value to not only the SDR organization but the sales team, as quickly as we could to really hammer in on this ABM centric motion that we're trying to build there.
Kerry Guard: And we're going to stop there because you're giving the game away, Bryant. Before we unpack all this, we will hang on to catch you all. I'm going to follow my process because it's important to realize that we're also all marketers, all humans, and all in this growth bucket, growth boat together. And so for both of you, what's the one challenge each of you is currently facing? Maybe it's the same, maybe it's different, but from your different perspectives, I see where y'all mash-up. But before we get there, what's the challenge you're facing?
Bryant Pulecio*: You have a lot of people in sales and marketing who have been in space for a long time. They might be used to hearing things a certain way or how things have been done. And the challenge I see from a technology standpoint is that it doesn't seem like it's the science project over here on the side. Sometimes we've been in conversations where you start to talk about intent data and how it feeds into these accounts. Our boss uses the term "digital body language" a lot, and when accounts start showing these digital signals, there may be something happening there; maybe we're not 100% sure who it is. But we can kind of reverse engineer some things. There's some web traffic coming out of this city in the US, and we can look at LinkedIn to see which people live in that city who have these job titles. But when you start explaining some of these things, sometimes it goes over their heads, and they want to revert back to the way I've been doing things for a long time. So that's one of the challenges we've experienced. We've reframed how we describe things. Sometimes we get a little too fanciful, to use Theresa's term, in how we describe things, and so instead of talking about things from the different account journey stages that we built in our ABM platform and we're moving this account for, we just say, like, here's the data to help you prioritize how you want to tackle your accounts. We're going to go after all of the accounts. But let's just start at the top with the ones that are showing the most signals. And that message has seemed to resonate better. We're only going to focus on these accounts that are showing high intent. It's just figuring out how to find that common language to describe it. It doesn't become this thing where it's like an unknown or I don't know what's going on over there a type of thing.
Kerry Guard: How about you, Theresa? Are you feeling the same challenge or yours a bit different?
Theresa Woodiel: I would say it's related, where it's a little bit different and is also on the people side. I would say that, where the world is, if you think about buying and how people buy, there's so much information at their fingertips. Having a conversation around a buyer-led motion is very counterintuitive to a lot of sellers. I work directly with sellers; I have one-on-one conversations with them, and we always come together. There's always this piece of yes, but we must educate them. But it's true, we should educate them; there may just be some that are more open to education than others. And really, that's where to Bryant's point where sharing the data of here's why I believe what, we're using all this data and analytics to help us inform and prioritize where we're going. And that's my nod to the education piece of bringing people along with why we're doing what we're doing and why it's important. The buyer led motion, and then you've also got the second point, I would say, which is that there are folks that still have a traditional approach to lead generation into demand, and what does that mean to them? Or you've got those that think ABM is just hunting the whales and the really large accounts, and that's true. But there's an aperture that you can apply, where it can be programmatic, industry-focused, or whatever those attributes are. So I would say that those are a couple of the key points that I tend to run into more often.
Kerry Guard: I love that. Both of you are experiencing something similar but different. I heard the stat that I think comes in handy here, like, apparently you need to repeat yourself seven times.
Theresa Woodiel: It's true that it's sticky. You need to from a communications perspective. It's over and over and over again, and I'll reiterate and reiterate. Remember when we looked at all this data and we said yes, that one's been a while sort of thing, but you just have to keep reiterating it such that it sticks.
Kerry Guard: I love what you're both saying in the education piece, which we're going to do here. But for those who are listening and who are still new to the ABM science project of it all, I do want to pull back and bring everybody into our conversation about what on earth it is we're talking about. We're talking about account-based marketing versus lead generation versus demand generation versus all of these things. It's this new element of marketing, and that has been a thing for a while. Theresa, in terms of going after the whales, but how that's evolved, and now it's this own element. I've worked with so many companies in the last few years—literally just a few in the last two to three years—who now have their own ABM teams. It's happening, y'all. And so to help you all come into the story and help you all bring it to life, for those who are listening, let's take a step back from account-based marketing. Theresa, I'm going to start with you in terms of what this means to you. How is it? What is account-based marketing? And I'm going to have Bryant answer how it's different from other things in marketing. So let's start with Theresa.
Theresa Woodiel: I would say just put it very simply. You've got a target account list that you're trying to get in front of at its simplest form; that's what it is that can take shape in a couple of different ways where you've got a whale account as you mentioned, Kerry, you've got an industry that you want to target, and you've got more of a programmatic approach, where you've got a transactional business, and you're seeing some element of your business take off within a certain sector or tie or some sort of attribute. And you're able to grow at scale or target accounts at scale. So, fundamentally, at the end of the day, it's taking the goodness of data and trying to target those accounts, whether it's the 111 or a few too many.
Kerry Guard: And Bryant, how is that different than demand versus lead generation?
Bryant Pulecio*: An important thing to realize is that ABM is important, but it may not be the right fit for every type of business. One example that comes to mind is maybe where you're very much driven on like self-service signup, where you sign up, you create a trial, you put a credit card like there's one person and that person is going to sign up, and they're going to, and so that may be a more traditional lead funnel, whereas to the notion that people are more familiar with where you have the different stages, people are aware, they're coming in, they're engaging, they're converting, they're becoming a customer. When you get into more, like mid-market and enterprise, where it's not usually just one person you have to reach out to, you need a champion, like a supporter. There are different people in different parts of the organization, and Theresa says this a lot if it's just one person and an enterprise, and that person decides to move on to another company that deals suddenly with high risk. So it's looking at it from a similar lens as the demand generation. But more from an account-based perspective, where's this account in their journey? Are they just barely researching? Are they starting to look at your website? Are they doing a little bit more research? Are they becoming not an MQL but an MQA, like a marketing-qualified account where there's a significant amount of activity happening? Maybe multiple people in the account are engaging in different types of channels, from webinars to emails to downloading your content, and as you progress down from booking a meeting and setting up opportunities, and so from a technology perspective, as Theresa mentioned, there are different ways how you would approach that you can get on the whales, because the payoff is going to be so much bigger, like six or seven-figure deals, you probably will get a bit more personalized with certain things. But that's not scalable. When you get into a large number of accounts, you're like the one-to-one, one to few, where you might start grouping them into chunks. Here are some in the financial services industry that is large, or you start grouping them together, and then one too many, where you're just going a little bit more midmarket or lower, and you're giving a similar message to various types of accounts, but still focusing maybe on the ones that are most engaged or not engaged, or focusing your dollars in certain areas that way.
Kerry Guard: So the big distinction is really this idea of one person making the ultimate buying decision and being able to just target that one person to then go download that free trial versus a collective coming to the table and making a buying decision, which if it is a big purchase, so to speak, you're going to need a few people to buy in. I have a quick question on that, and I don't know who best to answer it. So let's all decide. Where do you start? If you have this account that you're going after, do you start at the C suite, the VP level? Do you start at the manager level? Where do you go if you need to get buy-in, or is it just holistic and going after everybody?
Theresa Woodiel: It goes back to your point and Bryant's point. When we think about complex sales, you're going to have multiple roles sitting around the table. You're going to have the ultimate buyer, a technical champion, a ratifier, or you're going to have the technical user. When you think about your business, a good way to understand it is, "How do I tackle it?" "Where do I start?" We'll start with what: look at your data, where your deals are coming from, and who's involved in those deals, and that's always a good starting point as a proxy. And then, obviously, you're going to be running programs and different channels, and people are going to be consuming your content, they're going to be visiting your website. You can use some of that intelligence to help understand like Bryant was describing earlier. We can see that this account and some of the activity are coming out of XYZ city in this port part of the world, and we can get validation from that because we can see that these indeed are people who downloaded our content or did some things, so you can start to triangulate between the signals, first-party and third-party data, and people that are consuming as well. You can look at your historical data and understand what my ICP is and who's typically sitting around the table and those roles: buyer role, ratifiers, technical user champion, and things like that. And use that to inform, because when we think about account coverage and who we need to talk to, that can help inform. For us, when we look at our process, there's no doubt that we want to influence the C suite. They are going to be the ultimate decision-makers; they may not have the contract, but they're on the hook for security within their organization. What we have found is that typically, the technical champion is tasked with understanding what's new, what's latest, and what's greatest. If you think about how accounts operate, every account has an MPI process. A new product introduction typically starts at the C suite, where the C suite says, "Hey, we need to do this in our business to make us more efficient or more effective." Whatever that might be, that initiative or that idea becomes an initiative; that initiative becomes a project, and that project has people sitting around the table. And that's really what we're talking about in terms of influencing, but using all these different signals is your own kind of one last business, where you're seeing engagement, who's coming first party or third party, where you see consumption of content, and where you're trying to educate. But those are some of the things that we use. We typically start with a technical person; that's where we have the greatest access for a conversation, but for that to convert into an opportunity, a mid-level manager would be second below that.
Kerry Guard: Okay, I'm going to pull this apart a lot. So bear with me. You start with an initial audit of your existing data. To your point, who are those audiences? And I love what you're saying; you mentioned this sort of breakdown a couple of times, but let's pull this part. So you have your C suite; do you need to influence? And then you have your technical champion, and I'm missing someone.
Theresa Woodiel: People who are maybe not part of the decision-making unit but whose opinion matters could be a security architects; they might not be the senior security architect, but they're important to the process. No CISO is going to go make a decision, or at least in my view, no CISO is really going to go out there without having gone to their technical folks and done their due diligence right there. That's that trusted partner, that go-to person who's got the reputation in the organization; they are sought after for their perspective.
Kerry Guard: Okay, so in terms of the technical champion, you start in the middle and spiderweb like you want to influence the C suite, but at the end of the day, what you care about is the person who is not necessarily going to use the product but finds the product most useful.
Theresa Woodiel: I would say we seek to influence all of those different buyer roles, and where we are most likely to have a conversation that converts to an opportunity is with the technical, followed by the mid-level manager. So head of director, someone who's got a team that cares about the tools and productivity of their team, how do I give them the best tools to be successful? And those are really the two buckets; it doesn't mean that we don't want to influence the CISO, because obviously, it's important. Their names are on the signature line when it comes to making the decision. But they don't do it in isolation. This is a complex buying process, and they're going to have other people sitting around the table with them.
Bryant Pulecio*: The other piece to add there, as we describe it, is the three motions we do here at Deep Instinct, so you know, inbound and outbound, which probably most people are familiar with. And then the surround motion is the third one, from an ABM perspective, and so from a C-level perspective, I've seen various posts on LinkedIn or articles, like they probably get 200 plus emails a day from vendors trying to sell them stuff. And so, there was a specific post; I'm forgetting the person, and I don't think it matters. But they wrote back to give some guidance to sales. If I forwarded every single email that I get from a vendor down to my security champion, or whoever that person is, they'd be chasing stuff all day. And so to Theresa's point, where we find the most success is the director, the middle management, and then the technical buyer or the technical champion. But that doesn't mean we don't want to surround them. That's where some more of the technology comes into place, where we can surround from ABM advertising, whether it's six cents or demand base, and start focusing your advertising dollars on certain accounts or on LinkedIn as well. Certain job levels at these accounts are of this type. So that way, when the conversation progresses, at least the company's CISO has made some impressions. And that's the challenge of the science project. Going back to the previous topic, the goal of those ads is not a click a legion; it's a brand awareness piece, because by the time that CISOs are introduced to the conversation in a meeting and a demo, you know, maybe there's already been one or two meetings with, like, kind of the director and security champion, then they're bringing on more folks down the line. It's like, “oh, yeah, I've heard about this company. I saw their ads on LinkedIn.” And we had some anecdotal feedback here from one of our reps in Europe, where they asked if they were in that meeting, and they asked the CISO, "How did you hear about us?" Oh, I saw you on LinkedIn. We've got to put all our money there. There are a lot of different pieces that happen along the way, but it's the education part and all of the stuff that's happening behind the scenes. There's a lot of complexity in that from a technology standpoint, but it works together to reinforce and accelerate those deals. So that way, when that director or security champion says, hey, I want you to jump on this call, it's not like who's this company, and they're having to look them up and do some research. There have already been some impressions there from an advertising perspective.
Kerry Guard: Theresa is laughing because I was making a ton of faces and hand motions because, in my experience, Theresa and I want to hear from both of you on this. I've heard and the data that we've collected, it's anywhere from 14 to 40 touches before someone will buy from any given brand, especially if it's a six-figure purchase, I would say it's higher.
Theresa Woodiel: Let me be a nerd for just a sec. And Bryant can chime in, too. So typically, what we see when you think about the Holy Grail in digital marketing are the correlations of what you see in your business, and then how you tune your tech stack to listen for these different things. What we are seeing there is an inflection that we see in our closed business, and we will see, in some cases, hundreds of touchpoints, like a whole bunch.
Kerry Guard: Well, let's clarify, what are you defining as a touch point?
Bryant Pulecio*: Well, even for what's visible to us, there are attribution tools out there for all the digital touchpoints that the tool was able to capture. And then I was thinking about this in my head when you were talking about a previous topic of how you find who you go after. And you look at your data, which is a good place to start, but that's assuming that everything's based on how people process technology and that the bright people are following the right process. And that's dependent on, well, did the reps even attach the people to the opportunity in Salesforce for you to see? The circling back on the question here is that we look at the data that is available. There are a bunch of tools out there we can use to see those digital touch points. Did they go to a webinar? Or were they at a trade show? Did they come to our website a few times and download these pieces of content on our website or in content syndication? Those are the visible touch points, and assuming that all of the people that were actually around the room in the meeting are attached to the opportunity, then there are all the unseen touchpoints, as I was mentioning before, where those brand awareness pieces that are surrounding that CISA with a few ads, or all the great stuff that PR does, which is hard to attribute to certain things, just to help bring brand awareness, and another piece of kind of anecdotal data on that. We were at one of the large trade shows in the cyber industry this past summer, and someone came to our booth and said, "Hey, my boss told me to come to check you guys out." So can you talk to me about what you do? And it was kind of a little comment there. But it just helps reinforce that there's this brand awareness piece that's happening. That's always really hard to measure. But to Theresa's point, it is probably more than that, because there's only so much that you can measure from a certain perspective.
Theresa Woodiel: And if we think about using a tool that's visible, we're not even sure you're really capturing the milestone moments. It's the activity that's out there. But there's really this inflection that we look for there. And what we've seen in our closed-one business is that it's probably well above 40 touch points, and we're capturing the milestones, not some of the other little incremental mini milestones that are occurring in there as well. I would argue it's probably much larger.
Kerry Guard: Yes, it's because when you reach those milestones, they seem to be bigger than just a download. And I go so okay, really tough question. Because this keeps coming up, especially with ABM gates or on gates.
Theresa Woodiel: I'll give you my perspective. I'm kind of a three-to-one. And what I mean by that is three free ones. You get or give, and that's the trade. And so, that's kind of something I've lived by. Now, the other thing that's really influencing that is a lot of the privacy initiatives that are occurring. We're not just California, not just the EU, but Virginia; other parts of the states like this are really starting to take hold. So it's something about which I think there's going to be tension. That's my rule, right or wrong.
Bryant Pulecio*: I'm probably in a similar camp. Because sometimes, and Theresa mentioned this in conversations, we're in some times as you need to find, depending on what type of business you're in the watering holes where people go for information for the type of technology that you sell. And so, especially if you're an up-and-coming, newer, or lesser-known business, they may not be coming to your website to download your piece of content. You need to put it out there so that you can get a little bit more reach. A lot of people have mixed opinions about content syndication, but we found some ways to have it be fruitful for using intent data and targeting certain accounts or even certain people within those accounts that are showing certain buying signals, just to help make it a little bit more effective. But it's just another way to get your content out there in front of a broader audience than you would just have on your website. And so, it's odd if you have an ungated website, and then it's dated, or some other kind of publication website.
Theresa Woodiel: That's a really good point, just to extend the thought around media. It's important to be where your audience is, and it's also important to take care, to Bryant's point earlier when we first popped on around your own real estate, that you're attracting and that you're doing whatever you need to do to optimize your website and to get it out there and really do that. There was a piece of it where several years ago, media was like here, whereas now they're really starting to come into a little bit more balance of this inbound and outbound kind of tension if you will, and marketing.
Kerry Guard: It definitely feels more like a holistic approach. I don't think any of us are saying, just to be crystal clear here, that you should be doing ABA heavily, but you do need to take into consideration all the things that both Theresa and Bryant have said, from Legion demand generation to PR. I'm with her SEO out there, because I find it important to you that there is this balancing act between all of these elements. And it's attention because you're taking a lot of what you're saying in terms of the word you used. It was a signal. You're taking all these signals from all these different places that feed into who those accounts are that are acting, what they are doing, and at what point sales come into play, which leads. Before I get there real quick, I just want to close this conversation out. You're talking about three to one, and I just want to be really clear: do you give three away first, and then you gate, or do you gate the first one, and then it's free?
Theresa Woodiel: We try to be very nuanced in our journey stages. If we think about our journey stages as demand-based ones and we're targeting the top of the funnel, we want to present ourselves as thought leadership and say, "Hey, here's why we're a thought leader." And we're an authority in this space, so when you think about it from that perspective, it's ungated. Now, as you're starting to educate them, they're moving through the buyer's journey; they're an MQL and in QA, whichever that may be, and then you're starting to talk a little bit more about gates or things like that. And so that's kind of our perspective on it; it really is dependent on the buyer's journey and where someone is in their journey. But for us, I would say we tend to start with ungated. But we do a lot of testing on the gate, and we're running side by side. In addition to some of those mid-funnel and bottom-funnel type programs and campaigns that we're running,
Kerry Guard: It sounds like the content matters. Depending on what the content is, it depends on whether that's the intent signal versus thought leadership versus something that's a bit more of a how-to down the funnel. Solving a very specific problem versus how we approach complex problems sounds like intent matters within that, I think.
Bryant Pulecio*: If you think in your mind about the visualization of a funnel, and you have the number of accounts that are at the top, it's going to be too many to target, or it might cost more than you have the budget to try to go after all of those. So then it's trying to attract them. And you mentioned one, which is an important one: SEO-paid social. We found some good success with some Facebook and Twitter without really spending a ton of money and just helping to drive to some of our blogs that our threat research team puts out. It has content that people will find useful, and it's not gated, because the point is not to get leads; it's really to filter down out of that huge bucket that's at the top of the funnel. Who are the ones that are interested, who's taking a bite, and then that kind of moves them to Theresa's point in the journey stages, the count level journey stages? Once they come onto our site, whether it's whatever ABM tool you have, it'll do some reverse engineering to figure out these accounts are visiting your website, and that's where you start narrowing in a little closer. These ones are starting to bite like they're starting to show some interest in us. They've heard of us; they've visited our blog; they've visited this account. Now let's switch up the ads to go a little bit more Legion-focused and send them still kind of some top-of-funnel content like an ebook or something like that. But just try to get them to see and try to find the names, and then once a certain level of activity bubbles over, it becomes like an MQL, and that's where we would have the STRs focus their time.
Kerry Guard: Our worlds in terms of the different marketing channels are colliding at the moment. And this is where we need to start being a little bit more tactical, because we've been talking very holistically, but to bring this to life for people, when we're talking about more display ads or SEO or PR, that's actually outside of ABM, but it feeds ABM. Am I on the right track there?
Theresa Woodiel: And I would say the distinction goes back to the aperture. You're scaling your programs based on that aperture when you think programmatic; you probably need more and more awareness and reputation building to help you plant seeds, exactly what Bryant was talking about moments ago. Whereas when you're targeting one-to-one, it's probably a more direct path, and hyper-personalization and content are super important. The message of what this account cares about has become super important, but all of those things matter. But it's two degrees. It's not for everything at that point. It's not a go to the buffet, and I'll have that movie. It's being very strategic about what channels and what my allocation needs to look like from a resource and budget perspective.
Kerry Guard: Okay, so let's bring this to life for people in terms of the tech stack that I noticed is relevant to what you guys are doing. But I think that's helpful for people to understand why you're using what you're using and when that makes sense. It sounds like you're very sophisticated in what you're doing, which I think is fine, and then we can talk about some opportunities for people to get started who can't quite afford the full tech stack you're using and help them pull that apart. But just for where you currently are, which I'm sure took time to build up, or wherever you currently are. What is your tech stack from an ABM perspective?
Bryant Pulecio*: I guess I touched on pieces of that in the beginning. There are a lot of pieces, and there are two pieces that probably every organization is going to have, whether they're going with an ABM approach or not: a CRM, Salesforce, and some sort of marketing automation tool, and there are several out there. We have Salesforce, and we have HubSpot. I've used several marketing automation tools in the past. HubSpot did everything we needed, and it was at a cost-effective price point. I've been in other organizations where you have Marketo, and it's a quarter of a million dollars. I'd rather spend that on other pieces of the tech stack.
We started looking more broadly, so when we came to the ABM perspective of the platform now, we decided to go with a demand base for a number of different reasons. But if that's outside of your budget, any sort of tool that de-anonymizes traffic, and there are several out there that say these accounts are visiting your website, is useful if you're a little bit more limited on budget. We went with demand-based to give us multiple pieces of that and the configurability of the platform as well. And so a lot of our insights and analytics come out of that platform, which feeds directly from Salesforce and pulls all the accounts that you have there. And then there's the unknown, the stuff that's not in Salesforce yet, and it helps sort it into where an account is in their buying journey. Are they not even researching? Maybe they're starting to look at some webinars or some articles, or just starting to research, medium research, high research, and marketing qualified. We set up a meeting with them, and we have some opportunities set up with them—early stage, mid stage, late stage—so it helps sort the accounts for where they are in the buying process so that we can give a little bit more of a nuanced message to them. And that was kind of some of the message; some of the things were so that if an account is very high up in the funnel, we'll probably advertise to them more blocks because we just want them to look at our content, find it useful, and also see which accounts are coming on the website, and that's part of it.
Kerry Guard: I just want to be really clear. You're using DemandBase and we're talking about it. I can't say this word.
Theresa Woodiel: De-anonymizing.
Kerry Guard: I'm going to fix that and work on it. But you're talking about being LLC account base. You're not seeing individuals in terms of people and their email addresses and who they are; you're looking at it from these other companies that people work for and the collective within that organization or are interacting with your brand.
Bryant Pulecio*: Yes. And that's because they haven't downloaded any content; they haven't filled out a form on your site yet. But you're starting to see the breadcrumbs of some interest starting to happen. We have integrated the demand base with Google Analytics, so we can dive in a little deeper there to see. There's someone from X's account visiting our website. This account has visited our website five times in the last week. With the power of the two tools together, we can start to say where that web traffic is coming from. Four of the visits were in New York, and one of them was somewhere in the Midwest. Then you can start to reverse engineer it a little bit to say, "Okay, let's look on LinkedIn; let's see which people live in these metro areas that match the titles we're trying to go after." And it might not be the right person, but at least you're starting to hunt; you're starting to fish on the right side of the pond a little bit. And that's where the pieces of the tools come together like the demand base has some, and the other tools in the space have it as well. There is some built-in keyword intent data that you can configure in the system to say, "Here are the keywords that are important to me." And now show me which accounts are showing interest in these keywords. That's what's happening off your site. But it just tries to give you more signals than you have. The other signal that we're infusing there as well is that not all intent is created equal. The keyword intent, even for people coming to your website anonymously, is still very much at the top of the funnel. But if you step outside of our B2B kind of scope here, like in your personal life, when you're just browsing around, and then when you actually go on to Amazon, or whatever, and you start reading reviews, you're a lot closer to making a purchase decision.
There are plenty of sites and trust radios where you can have review-level data for which accounts are looking at which categories of products. We have that infused into the system as well. To see, we use a couple of different review sites, but we plug that data into the demand base to say, "Okay, here are the accounts that are showing research-level top-of-funnel intent." And then there are the accounts that are maybe a lot closer to a buying decision because they're actually comparing X to Y in the same category that we're in, or they're actually comparing us to our competitor. So maybe we should try to jump on that right away and raise that to the top of the priority list for the SDRs. It's really trying to use the data available to us to increase the hit rate, or the accuracy rate, whether it's the SDR, that, or the salesperson. It's not going to be 100. But hopefully, the accuracy and hit rate are a little higher. And there are other pieces of the puzzle as well, like visible ones, just to really tell you which of the pieces or programs that you're running or are making the most impact because, sure, this program could have generated a lot of leads. If you just look at it as a leading indicator, maybe not many of those progressed into opportunities or closed businesses. So depending on how long your sales cycles are, you can't always make decisions on closed businesses. You start looking at some of those leading indicators, but as stuff starts flowing through, and maybe you look at this twice a year or yearly, you can start looking at the programs or the channels that we invested in to see which ones were starting to perform better than others.
The other main part of the tech stack is sales automation. So outreach, SalesLoft, those are the reasons why we decided to go with outreach, but that way, to Theresa's point earlier about where we are finding success, that was the tool that we used to help find that because of the sequences that we built out in there for the SDR team. I don't remember their 15 touches or something like that. You can see at which stage in that sequence we're finding the most success with which type of people; there's that aha moment or that inflection where we're starting to get them to pick up the phone or they're actually writing back. And all of that data feeds into Salesforce in the activity log, which can be used to create touchpoints.
We can then look at the demand base to see which accounts are showing more signals of responding. And so, if you go back in time, like a few years, you had the conversation of best of breed versus best of suit. I never really liked that conversation because you either get stuck with one vendor or you get stuck with a bunch of spots and solutions. I've always liked a small number of tools that are highly integrated with each other and talk well to each other. And so that was part of the decision-making process as well, like, which tools can we use to talk to each other? because I'm looking at it from a technology point of view. I'm really trying to minimize the manual touches. We still have a little bit of that in our process now, but I'm trying to minimize that, especially when you're in a smaller company and you're stretched very thin. It's tough when a lot of your time is stuck with uploading this file here or these manual steps in the process, looking at automation in a lot of ways. The other big reason we looked at demand base was that we looked at having parity there between the ads, so then they have a display advertising network, and Sixth Sense has the same thing as well, where you can look at the different accounts and I want to target these accounts. There's new functionality that's recently been released, and I want to target certain people within these accounts. But we try to have parity with that on the LinkedIn side as well. And so we're targeting the same accounts, you know, if you're at the top of the funnel and you're seeing blogs, then we're targeting those same accounts on LinkedIn and showing the same ads there as they move down. The automation between those two platforms, LinkedIn and Demand Base, will really remove manual steps there. So all the accounts are always in the same process and across different channels.
Theresa Woodiel: If I may, there are two gaps I want to make. So when we think about it, Brian was talking about the data. Put yourself in the shoes of sales if you're someone like me who's working with a sales organization, and you're not necessarily frontline, like sales are, but you're just a step removed from it. It's super important to be able to say, "Hey, the seller. I know this account is based in the Bay Area, but we can see that the activity is coming from a different location." "Let's go take a look over here." And then that is a whole different conversation. When you think about game planning around the accounts that you're trying to help the seller get into and break into, that's a super valuable conversation. The second thing that I'll say too, and this goes back to the point that Bryant was making on channels, investment allocations, and things like that is that if your sales cycle is pretty long, there are ways that can help inform your decision-making about where to put your allocations. Because truly, at the end of the day, what's most important is not that you got the money, but how you spent the money. Some of the things that we look at to help inform our decision-making around channels, media spending, or other things are: how did it contribute to? Did it go XYZ into the sales process? Did we get to the proposal? Did we get to the development? Or did we just get to discovery, and then we got the boot sort of thing? That's a way to help inform decision-making on your programs about how you allocate your dollars and how you spend them.
Kerry Guard: So there are two things I want to round out here as we close out our conversation, which could go on so much longer. I promise you all, but I do want to be cognizant of our time. Two things: one, it does sound like it's not traditional advertising. When we think of advertising, I think advertising and ABM sometimes get lumped together. I want to be, but from what I'm hearing y'all talk about, it feels much more thoughtful than that, and it actually feels more like an analytics play.
Theresa Woodiel: It's really insightful. There are things that we're doing that help us form our messages. If we're targeting a financial institution, and they say, "Hey, we need to improve the efficiency of our operations," What that means is digital. If you think about the message that you need to create, that's time to market, because the more accounts there are, the more new members that they can bring on board digitally, which is going to be a lot faster than someone walking into a bank and filling out a form. There are still people who like that human touch, but most people are making the transition. In terms of this digital world, things are always on.
Bryant Pulecio*: I agree with Theresa's comment about calling it out on the analytic side because it's stitching the data together. So you're not wrangling data all day and the tools are helping you come to the insights you need.
Theresa Woodiel: But helping us connect the dots. It's connecting the dots.
Bryant Pulecio*: Our performance marketing agency unlocked this for us by feeding some additional data into the Google Analytics integration. We have a demand base of not just which accounts are visiting our site, and obviously, GA has all of the location and session data, but we're also feeding in an additional custom attribute of. Which journey stage are they in on our ABM platform? So that really unlocked a lot of things for us, because then we can start looking at Twitter and Facebook and Google paid search and Bing, or Google Display, and seeing we spent this money, maybe they didn't convert because it's top of funnel stuff. But which journey stage was that account in? Google Display brought a lot of the right type of accounts in, or, surprisingly, enough paid search brought a lot of opportunity-stage accounts in, and so they're looking around. DemandBase calls it an engagement minute from their acquisition from engaged to coming in. But normalizing the engagement minutes across the channels, how much are we spending per engagement minute on each channel? I'll spend more because they're more at the bottom of the funnel than at the top and making those types of decisions, but the big piece is really pulling the data together. You can make informed decisions. There's a lot of complexity in the platforms, and sometimes it's not like, set it and forget it, or you can't just plug it in and it runs itself. There's some configuration a lot of times, and that's been another big part of just the team that we have over here of looking at the tech stack together and how we pulled the data and how we kind of make sense of it.
Kerry Guard: My last question to both of you because we've been dancing around it, but we haven't been clear about it is how the sales team fits into this. And it sounds like it doesn't work unless the sales team is on board, and you're engaged with them, and then how you engage with them. So could you talk me through how those pieces connect together to really pull the strength through and make that sale? At the end of the day?
Theresa Woodiel: When we really lifted the hood on demand base one, were you saying not classic, but demand base one? They were like, "This is magic." I don't know what you're doing over here. This is magic stuff. It was really enlightening from that perspective, and they were all kind of like, "Okay, hang on a second, let me understand this again." There was that initial kind of they were there, and then when you start getting into the data and conversations and this and that, you really start getting into the game planning piece of it. All right, how are we going to break into that? You get really into the tactics of "Here's a point of entry; which one do we think will work? I can do this or that." And from that perspective, it gets super creative. And I think it's a very kind of execution and orientation in helping them break into it. That's the fun piece for me, because I'm like, "Oh, what if we try this sort of thing?" And you get really excited, or at least I do. So from that perspective, it's been really great.
The other thing, too, that I'll say is that sometimes it can be a little bit of a distraction. In the sense that you're doing so much education, you want to just get to the work and the outcome because you're there to wake up in the morning to drive the business. I mean, you want to make an impact, and so sometimes it can be a little bit of a distraction, and you start getting into the sausage-making. I don't enjoy that as much. I don't mind the edge, but I really don't enjoy that part of it because you have targets. You want to reach your targets and make an impact. It ran the gamut to shiny object. Holy cow, this is amazing. Tell me more, and then you start to get into how we apply it piece of it. And then, once you get the meeting or something like that, it gets really exciting. Give me more of a thing. There was a conversation. Bryant and I were having a conversation with one of our executive sellers in Europe. And he was saying, "I like what I see, but I need more," like he saw some close business coming in. He was like, "I need more." Well, budgets are finite. So it's like, "Okay, how are we going to do this?" And that becomes a little bit of a different conversation.
Kerry Guard: I just want to wrap this up with what I heard about today in terms of account-based marketing, the funnel of fraud to consideration to intent, and the audience that y'all highlighted around that. I've got to pull my notes. I took so many notes. Six pages of notes. I hope everyone listening is doing the same thing because there are just so many things you said that are so important from the funnel to the audience. You had this to some good audience names that I want to just pull back to their prior roles.
Theresa Woodiel: Is that the buyer role and stuff like that?
Kerry Guard: Yes, you had…
Theresa Woodiel: Buyer, ratifier, technical, champion, and blocker.
Kerry Guard: I havent heard about the blockers.
Theresa Woodiel: We don't like the blockers, very much.
Kerry Guard: Technical, ratifiers, champions, and users, and now we have blocker. The technical user—you guys finding that aha moment and that technical user and not putting so much into that C-suite, was really important in this conversation. And then the inbound, outbound, surround, and then your tech stack, which is very sophisticated. And not everybody needs to go build that, but they can start thinking about those building blocks. And you layered those in, Bryant; you laid those in really thoughtfully. I actually wrote them down in order, from Salesforce to HubSpot to outreach to Google Analytics to demand base, LinkedIn, Google search, and ads invisible. It's almost an order of how you really layer these things in to then pull apart that as analytics, to build that plan around how you're going to surround that audience and then bring them through the sales cycle in a really intentional way.
Thank you both for so much information. I'm going to listen to this again, and I encourage users to do the same to really unpack how to approach account-based marketing. I don't know that we've heard such a thoughtful talk about ABM before, but I really love how you've layered in these three elements, from the audience to the funnel to the tech stack, and how you pull those things through so thoughtfully. Thank you both.Thanks for having
Bryant Pulecio*: Thanks for having me.
Theresa Woodiel: All right, take care.
That was my conversation with Bryant Pulecio and Theresa Woodiel. If you'd like to learn more about either of them as individuals or understand more about their tech stack or how they approach ABM, be sure to reach out. Link to their profiles is in the show notes as well as their company Deep Instinct.
Thank you Bryant and Theresa. What an awesome conversation. So grateful to have had both of you and your perspectives, hand in hand. It was awesome.
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