Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Marketing automation may have helped reduce the gap between sales and marketing teams, but it’s also causing many marketers to think too linearly about their customers, according to Domo’s VP of marketing.
Speaking to CMO during a recent visit to Sydney, the business management software company’s marketing leader, Christelle Flahaux, said that while the transparency marketing automation gives B2B marketers around lead management has helped improved their relationship with sales, it’s also made marketing very “single threaded”.
“You’re just looking at a lead or a lead’s behaviour, and that lead has to pin to a contact, and that contact then has to get touched with an opportunity,” she said. “That is very linear.”
The rise of account-based marketing (ABM) will be a “forcing function” that helps align both sales and marketing to a common destination, Flahaux claimed, adding that varying flavours of account management will come into play.
“For big enterprise B2B plays, you could go all the way to personalising a landing page, advertising, customising content based on a particular use case and who’s in the market at that time,” she said. “But you could still do ABM for customers you know you’re going to after where there’s a specific function you’re targeting. That becomes a very focused campaign.”
Domo itself is taking a tiered approach to ABM this year, and Flahaux has appointed a dedicated employee to oversee ABM for the first time. “We have Domo gold, which is our top 50 accounts, then there’s a second tier that’s not as personalised, which is more vertically or role-based,” she explained.
“It’s still more customisation than you’d have in a traditional advertising campaign. Then you have a pool of accounts to pull in at any time. Once they’re in pipeline, you’re going to have to personalise that journey because people will tune out more.”
Flipping the marketing funnel
When it comes to understanding the dichotomy between sales and marketing, Flahaux describes it in terms of opportunity versus nurturing.
“To me, sales lives in a world of opportunities, and what’s right in front of them. They do not live in a world of leads or preparing for two quarters out,” she said. “Marketing fundamentally can’t do a tonne for the quarter it’s in. It’s usually the stuff that’s two quarters out, which sales doesn’t care about. Never do the two agree.
“Where I’ve seen a lot of positive interactions start to happen is where you can agree on the data you’re looking at. Having transparency and fact-based discussions with sales takes the emotion out of it. It doesn’t matter if you say ‘yes, I delivered 10,000 leads’ if a sale rep says I don’t know what you’re talking about.
“But if you can take the emotion out, and have a solid conversation around where those leads have gone, looking at every sales rep, where they got the leads, what happened to them and if they started converting, then you start having a quality versus quantity discussion.”
That’s where lead scoring and marketing automation comes in, but it’s also where marketers need to be careful about how they view the customer, Flahaux said.
“Fundamentally, where the breakdown has been is that it’s always been a hand off,” she continued. “Marketing automation caused a lot of the issues we’re having today. If you think about a funnel, there is an endpoint to it. You start by casting the net wide at the top of the funnel, get them in the system, then through marketing automation you nurture them, score them, and hand them over to sales when it’s time.”
Flahaux said the concept of the “bowtie funnel”, where marketers take a role in ongoing management of a customer through the lifecycle,is where things have started to shift to.
“Once they become a customer, it’s about what do you continue to do, how does marketing help influence upsell, cross-sell, how do you get them to become a customer advocate, bring them back into the fold, influence the product, or change your messaging,” she said. “There’s always been that concept of ‘aftermarketing’, what happens after a deal is done. It’s still a hand-off though.”
A more recent concept that Flahaux is excited about is ‘flip the funnel’, an idea introduced by co-founder and CMO of ABM vendor Terminus, Sangram Vajre. This is about switching the perspective of marketing and sales to start with the target account and customer.
“Instead of looking at it as marketing at the top of the funnel and leads trickling down, it’s flipping it over and starting with the customer,” Flahaux said. “How do you go after an account, then how do you expand? That requires you to think about it very differently, which is an easier conversation to have with a sales rep.
“If they have Cisco on their list for example, you talk about Cisco – you know there are 20 business units, which ones you’re going after, and so on. It’s more planning.”Read more: REA Group appoints first CMO
Building marketing’s credentials
Flahaux has been in B2B customer and field marketing for more than 15 years, and is well versed in the dynamic between sales and marketing as well as the evolution of marketing technology. A highlight of her career is her time with Ariba, first in field marketing then moving up to run marketing globally, where she tapped into early iterations of ExactTarget’s email marketing platform and Omniture’s Web analytics software. From there, Flahaux went into the human capital management space with Taleo, then worked for Marketo for a year before switching to Jive Software, overseeing field and international marketing as well as demand generation.
She took a sideways step to join open source player, MapR, before joining Domo nine months ago.
Domo offers a cloud-based platform for managing and visualising business data, insights and intelligence to improve real-time decision making. Now valued at more than US$2 billion, the company has raised more than US$590 million in investment to date, and is rapidly expanding its Australian presence as it looks to bring its platform to line-of-business users including marketers.
For example, local customer, Nude by Nature, is using Domo to pull together hundreds of marketing reports and intelligence sources including social media to showcase marketing’s effectiveness to the rest of the business.
As an internal example, Flahaux said her team can create dashboards through the Domo platform to quickly access pipeline distribution by geography, overlaid with existing customers, and determine where best to hold a promotional event.
For Flahaux, data utilisation is one of the key attributes required in a modern marketing leader. But again, she warns against using data as a crutch.
“It’s about understanding how data can be used to further a conversation, versus pointing fingers,” she said. “Data should be used to help you know where to focus your attention.
“A lot of the time, especially in the sales and marketing relationship, it’s used as a way to show delivery on lead numbers, but then sales won’t have delivered on their pipeline number. Somewhere those numbers are intertwined, so being able to have that fact-based discussion is so important.”