Creating Pipeline Miracles with ABM: Storytime with Justin Keller and Kevin Vanes

The working relationship between Sales and Marketing is everything when it comes to Account Based Revenue. We’ve heard this over and over. But it’s elusive. When it happens effortlessly it can feel like lightning in a bottle.

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Trinity Nguyen
Trinity Nguyen
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Christian Kletzl
Co-host

“We had ABM capabilities within our product and we had to drink our own champagne. We were like, we have to do it. We didn't even really need to build the business case for it. It's just, we gotta do this.” ~ Justin Keller, VP of Revenue Marketing at Drift

The working relationship between Sales and Marketing is everything when it comes to Account Based Revenue. We’ve heard this over and over. But it’s elusive. When it happens effortlessly it can feel like lightning in a bottle.

It’s been years since SigStr first launched into the B2B SaaS space. So when we got Justin Keller, VP of Revenue Marketing at Drift and Kevin Vanes. VP of Sales at Terminus, together to reminisce about launching their successful ABM initiative at Sigstr, it served as a reunion filled with behind-the-scenes goodness.

Key Takeaways:

  • How they created instant trust between Sales and Marketing
  • The key factors when it came to launching and scaling ABM
  • Generating a robust pipeline by narrowing their focus
  • Setting the tone for behind the scenes start-up magic

Things to listen for:

[04:56] Kevin: “It's the whole cycle that we're going to help you with. And it doesn't have to be the biggest, it doesn't have to be the smallest, it just has to be the right account. It hits those indicators that change your business faster deal cycle, maybe a little bit or a little bit, but bigger deals. You win a few more. You're not going to move all those, and you need to pick the one that it's going to have the biggest impact on your business.”

[06:25] Justin: “When I looked at the pipeline I needed to be building, I was like, there's no way I can make this budget number turn into that pipeline number. Some miracle. And so it ended up being one of those things where, rather than do that kind of bombs up funnel math. Here's how many deals I need to get in the sales guys pipeline. Here's my cost per opportunity, all the way up to cost per lead. I was like, screw it. Let's say there's a thousand total accounts that could go after. If I can turn, you know, 50 of those into pipe opportunities. There we go. I did the job.”

[11:44] Justin: I do ABM at a vastly larger scale now and I can't capture the magic that we had there because I think why it worked so well for us was, it wasn't ABM for ABM that works because we threw a bunch of money at it. It's because we threw so much love at it. We had 200 accounts that we had over a six month period. It was like, this is all that matters. This is all that matters. Like let's do nothing but create magical experiences.”

[15:00] Justin: “Knowing that everyone is doing everything they can, it's such a hard covenant to come to. I think that's when the thing. Kevin and I, we're lucky to have it. We did trust each other and knew each other were smart and had the company's best interests at heart. So we were able to kind of short circuit really difficult conversations and be like, look, we're in this together.

[30:16] Justin: “That is the hardest thing to scale. I think with an ABM program is that amount of partnership between marketing and the sales team. Understanding what everyone's doing. To look at where to be when they're going to get the ball passed to them. How to look at data, how to communicate. That's the really hard stuff.”

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Trinity Nguyen:

Hey, everyone. I'm Trinity Nguyen.

Christian Kletzl:

I'm Christian Kletzl, and we are back with an exciting twist for season four of The First 100 Days.

Trinity Nguyen:

This season we want to ask sales, marketers, revenue ops, to share their actual real live examples of how they build an alignment with their peers. Our guests today are Justin Keller, VP of Revenue Marketing at Drift and Kevin Vanes, VP of Sales at Terminus.

Trinity Nguyen:

Before they held those titles, the two worked together at Sigstr, a company later acquired by Terminus, where Justin sat in marketing and Kevin in sales. Our conversation today is going to focus on their time at Sigstr, where they first met and worked together. Specifically, on how they were able to establish a target account also called ABM or ABX program.

Trinity Nguyen:

Well, thank you so much, Justin and Kevin, for making the time and joining us and talking about all things' revenue and revenue alignment. So, before we get started, can you give us a little bit intro about yourself and then how you started working together?

Justin Keller:

My name is Justin Keller. I am the VP of Revenue Marketing at a company called Drift. I remember the first time I met Kevin, I was in a little call room at my old company in San Francisco. I was interviewing for this job as the head of marketing at company called Sigstr, and I'm like, "I need to spend some extra time with their head of sales just to make sure he and I will vibe. That's going to be the most important relationship, so I'm going to ask him to take an extra hour out of his day just to make me feel good," and he did a great job.

Kevin Vanes:

Yes. Spoiler, Justin took that job. That's why we're here on this podcast together.

Trinity Nguyen:

Kevin, do you want to give some intro?

Kevin Vanes:

I'm currently Vice President of Sales, working with our customers in the existing business at Terminus and ABM Software Solution. And as Justin was just sharing, I was one of the first employees, probably too early of an employee given my background at Sigstr, and I vividly remember going through the head of marketing hiring process. I remember after Justin, to trade stories, J, I remember after you came in your fancy jacket from San Francisco and presented to us in what was office two of ten probably and what was our board room, grabbing Bryan afterwards and just like, "Yeah, that's it. Justin's going to be who we're going to work with."

Justin Keller:

I love it. I don't remember wearing a jacket, but hey, if it worked.

Trinity Nguyen:

That's such a great attention to detail. You have a really good memory.

Kevin Vanes:

Memorable moment. Created a couple of years of partnership for Justin and I.

Trinity Nguyen:

So, it sounds like you guys started up on a really strong foot, great vibing from the beginning. So we're going to get a little bit specifically, but one of the projects, I think Justin, you mentioned to me that you guys worked on the account moving from lead-based to account-based.

Justin Keller:

One of the things I love about working with Kevin is we were always on each other's team, understood all the headwinds that one another faced. The one thing that was tricky, and we both worked together to figure it out, was that transition to being account-based. I remember it was one of those things where we had to do it as a company. We were in MarTech's space. We had ABM capabilities within our product and we had to drink our own champagne as it were. So we were like, "We have to do it." We didn't even really need to build the business case for us, just like, "We got to do this." I remember trying to figure this out with Kevin like, "How do we actually get our marketing team, get our sales team to worry less about the entire world and just care about a tiny sliver of this universe?"

Justin Keller:

The first time we did it... It starts with like the account selection, right? We're like, "Who should we go after?" And I think we're like, "Well, let's just let the AEs pick accounts. We'll let them pick 10 each." And we did that and they came back. We were a B2B company, small, scrappy startup. They came back with accounts like Nike and Norwegian Cruise Lines, companies that were never going to buy our software, but also were not in our ICP. We disagreed. It was one of those things, that was one of the first hiccups we had.

Kevin Vanes:

It was email signature software, so theoretically, any B2B company could use it because they're all sending emails. Then, who AEs wanted to sell into was very different than who the business was good at selling into. "Yeah. I want the biggest companies, the biggest deal size." Right? I think there was also just a... I learned a ton, like how we positioned it to the AEs. I'd go back and start from scratch, right? Like, "Hey, this is going to help us warm up accounts." I remember that was a lot of what we talked about, right? Where now, four years later, deep, deep in ABM, it's so much more than just warming up accounts, helping them get a first meeting.

Kevin Vanes:

It's the whole cycle that we're going to help you with. It doesn't have to be the biggest, doesn't have to be the smallest. It just has to be the right account so that it hits those indicators that change your business, faster deal cycle, maybe a little bigger deal cycle, and you win a few more. You're not going to move all those and you need to pick the one that it's going to have the biggest impact on your business.

Trinity Nguyen:

How big was Sigstr at the time?

Justin Keller:

50 people, maybe like $2 million in revenue. Pretty small, really small.

Kevin Vanes:

Yeah. That's hundreds of customers. So, it gives you a sense of deal size and what we're trying to go after. That's what we ended up chasing so much. Justin, is just bigger deal size. We chased deal size like it was everything, and I'd go back and chase a velocity, if I could do it all over again.

Trinity Nguyen:

To think about like, "Let's do account-based motion." That's pretty advanced. Because I remember four years ago, ABM, yes, it existed, but not everyone talks about it, and usually they're only stable for well accounts. So, what drove you guys to like, "Let's do this, let's drink the champagne, but also do it ourself."

Justin Keller:

I think a lot of marketers or revenue-oriented people have two options. More smaller dealers or fewer big ones. Right? It's kind of like, "Where do you want to park your chips, because you can't do both well." And, I think, at least from my perspective, interested in Kevin's, had a very, very modest budget to work with. And when I looked at the pipeline I need to be building, I was like, "There's no way I can make this budget number turn into that pipeline number without some miracle."

Justin Keller:

It ended up being one of those things where I'm like, "Rather than do that kind of bottoms up funnel math, here's how many deals I need to get in the sales guys pipeline. Here's my cost per opportunity all the way up to cost per lead." I was like, "Screw it. If I can pick..." Let's say there's 1,000 total accounts we could go after. "If I can turn 50 of those into piped opportunities. There we go. I did the job." It just, I don't know, somehow seemed easier, also way more challenging at the same time, because it was a brand new way of doing it. But it also, the economics made a lot more sense to me as a marketer.

Kevin Vanes:

Yeah, said from sales perspective. Justin and I never argued about pipeline, but the driving force was we never had enough pipeline, which is the bane of every startup's existence.

Justin Keller:

The bane of every business. I've never once had someone say, "Yeah, pipeline's great. We're good."

Kevin Vanes:

"Who hit these numbers? We don't have the pipe to hit them. What are we going to do? Let's try this ABM stuff."

Trinity Nguyen:

So, it sounds like it's more how to figure out to build enough pipeline with a limited budget that a small startup had back in the day was, sounds like, the main driver. You mentioned about like velocity as well. I think Kevin, you mentioned that. Was it something that you guys actively measuring yourself against?

Kevin Vanes:

We had our revenue model completely dialed. We knew our win rate. We knew our sales cycle. We knew how much pipe we had at any given time. And so when you start to punch those things through and even dial them up and dial them down. So what did I cover? Deal size, win rate, total pipeline and length. Right? So as you dial some of those things up and down, you start to figure out, what can we actually influence, right? You can train the team to win more, or you can bring in the right companies to win more. And we were using that constantly, because we had good win rates. They were over from first meeting. Not even accepted, just, "I will talk to you." We had a 20 plus percent win rate. So some of the fundamentals of the business were really, really good. We were just never pumping enough through to really hit that point where you're running with your hair on fire. We were running with our hair on fire, but not because the pipeline was sourcing us to do. We're running with the hair on fire to create the pipeline.

Trinity Nguyen:

Got it. So, you guys started out building, "Okay, let's do account motion." And then the first step, I mean, I guess, the first attempt was getting the AE to pick their pet accounts and they went out and they saw billboards, "Looks like a great company," and they list that. What happened?

Justin Keller:

So we said, "First of all, no, these are not going to work. We got to go back to the drawing board." I remember where we ended up, and I don't remember the iterations we went through to get there. I think we probably over corrected and then marketing picked all of their accounts for them. Is that how it went Kevin?

Kevin Vanes:

If I remember you, marketing came back and said, "Now choose from this list," versus completely open ended.

Justin Keller:

Yeah. That's where we ended up, is it was kind of, I think, what we did was marketing shows all of them and then sales was kind of like, "I don't want these." Right. And then I think the deal we made was, "Okay, we'll pick 50 for you to pick 10 from." Right. So there was some skin in the game from, and that ended up working pretty well, I think. And that's kind of how I approach it, even now.

Kevin Vanes:

I remember with Sarah creating a board, and that we were cracking into 10% plus, which is really, really high, because we tracked it. So we did some good things when it came to marketing, sales dev, which different times reported up through Justin and I, they kind of bounced around, and we're successful wherever they were. Not because of Justin and I, because of Sarah. But I remember tracking and just, that was another thing, that was really, really working with getting meetings at a good clip, right? When you think about, Justin, you said it all the time. What's the MQL number? 0.03% of them end up converting.

Justin Keller:

Yep.

Kevin Vanes:

We ended up having good conversion rate. Not just to meeting, but then to customer for, I mean, as a small subset, like Justin said, we were 50 people, eight, maybe at most 10 AEs. So we're talking not a whole lot of accounts we're putting through this program, 50 to a hundred-ish.

Christian Kletzl:

And I think that's always the question, there's always the thought that ABX only works with large budgets or with large targets. But, I guess, if your thoughts there, but I think my first thought would be, if you have a good win rate, I think that influences it even more than anything else.

Kevin Vanes:

I didn't necessarily have to go through the [inaudible 00:10:17] analysis of the software that Justin had to go through. And there's certainly some economics that have to play out. You got to have enough of those smaller deals to create the velocity. But I think it, as long as there's alignment on what you're trying to accomplish and you can feasibly do that, I think it's too easy to say it only works on big deals. I think it's an easy excuse.

Justin Keller:

A vastly larger scale now. And I can't capture the magic that we have there, because I think why it worked so well for us was it wasn't ABM or ABX that works because we threw a bunch of money at it. It's because we threw so much love at it. We had, like Kevin said, a board of, I call it a hundred, it might have been 200, targeted accounts that we had, over a six month period. And it was like, "This is all that matters. Sales dev, AEs marketing team. This is all that matters." Like, "Let's do nothing to create magical experience for these people." And that became, in my opinion, kind of viral, right? We were only going after 200 accounts, but the emotion that kind of reverberated out from that, was something that I think helped the overall brand and demand engine grow.

Kevin Vanes:

Something we usually struggle with is focus, Trinity. Everybody struggles with focus and nobody wants to stick to anything anymore, right? What's every marketer's told, to experiment. Okay. Bunch of experiments. So what are you actually making?

Trinity Nguyen:

That's true.

Christian Kletzl:

I think it's a focus for marketing by itself. And then the same focus for actually marketing and sales. I feel like their two different focus that are creating cats internally and with others.

Kevin Vanes:

Christian, we were both experiencing the same pain. The pipeline challenge was very real for Justin, for myself, and for both of our teams. So the alignment came from the pain we were experiencing and trying to solve together.

Trinity Nguyen:

Was it at any point, after the account selection, because the hard part is like, "Yes, build alignment agreement on both sides handshake, have SLA, but then sustaining that alignment throughout the six months and beyond. Was there any other things that didn't work out the way you guys anticipated beginning and you guys had did a correct course.

Justin Keller:

Yes. So many. Where do we start?

Kevin Vanes:

I would say, made a point to never point fingers about pipeline, but there were times it was hard to be... I will never forget sitting with you, and B Wade, and Sarah in the larger group, and going down item by item and being like, "Events aren't working." But events were a part of our ABM strategy. And I think on the spreadsheet, in the conference room, it clearly said, "Events aren't working." If you walked out that door and asked every single employee, our best marketing activity, it was events, hands down.

Kevin Vanes:

So there was always those that, fighting for true clarity and black and white answers, and black and white answers were hard. I think there was a lot of just faith tests for us along the way that created certainly some doubt, heck we both had to walk into those board meetings and answer the questions, right. And so if things weren't where they needed to be, you see a lot of companies fall apart there, right. Where it's like, "Well, marketing's not doing their job." "I don't have the leads to close. My win rate's 25% this quarter, what do you want me to do?"

Justin Keller:

And that is so, that's such a good point. I think there are times where a marketing leader or sales leaders stop pulling their weight. But I think believing that when another is, then you can hold each other accountable, absolutely. But knowing that everyone, each other, are doing everything they can, it's such a hard covenant to come to. And that is, I think, that's one thing I think Kevin and I were lucky to have, is that we did trust each other and knew each other were smart and had the company's best interest at heart.

Justin Keller:

And so we were able to kind of [inaudible 00:13:55] out of those really difficult conversations being like, "Look, we're in this together." But I have, almost every other time in my career, not had that luxury where I've got a salesperson who's just constantly trying to find a bus to throw me under, because I'm not generating enough pipeline for him or her. And the whole machine works better when you do have that collaboration, like Kevin said, I mean, even to the point of attribution like, "Was marketing responsible for generating this, or was Salesforce responsible for generating this?" Towards the end there, we didn't give a shit. It was like, "Hey, the pipeline's there. Well, share credit, will not take credit. Who cares? The pipeline is what matters for the company."

Trinity Nguyen:

That's music to my ears. So I feel so all warm and fuzzy. This is so great. Sometimes you feel like you're in your own like head and you're silo and talking about these things. But yeah, that is true. So you guys were lucky that you guys hit it off immediately. Maybe it was because of Justin's jacket. I don't know. But what was it that made you guys work so well together? Can it be like replicated?

Justin Keller:

I mean, other than, I think we're both pretty chilled out guys. I think, I mean, beyond that, what was the magic Kevin?

Kevin Vanes:

Because your nice, Midwest nice. There was no ego. I mean, that started with Dan, right? Our founder and CEO at the time. There was never any ego about it. And we talked a lot about being hard on problems, not on people. And maybe to a fault sometimes. Not pushing each other to do better. We were all more experienced in our careers. We had all experienced different types of things. And in fact, all of us had come from different backgrounds. You had done more startups than I had Justin. I was coming from a publicly traded company, which was painful. That's a whole other episode by the way. But all those things layered in it wasn't... Yeah, it was at all scary, but it wasn't the necessarily, the first time we had seen scary. Right. Or, kind of to try and overcome things with collaboration. We weren't in year two or three or even four or five. We were all 10 plus years into our career at the time.

Justin Keller:

Yeah. I think Kevin nailed it. There was no finger pointing. And I came from having no egos. It was like, "We're in this together."

Christian Kletzl:

I think that the comment about how much could this be the founder. Who's this person both report to, and how can this person influence it? Then I think, at least what we are seeing here, the no ego part is probably already part of the interview. Did you find the right people? And then I would say the second step is kind of, how can, in this case, maybe the founder, the CEO make sure that there's this trust. I think as soon as I stop trusting and like, "Okay, I don't think this is the best step, what my sales counterpart is doing." And then I start doing something on the side. So I feel like actually, maybe the advice is less about Kevin and Justin and more about what actually should the manager be doing.

Justin Keller:

Yeah. I think you're right on there, Christian. And I think you may have hit on something. Because I think this may be a one-sided story, but at least in my memory, so our founder, Dan, turned over the helm to a guy named Bryan Wade who became the CEO really, really amazing dude. And he very seldom got up in my face, pried to really get into my marketing program too much. He usually trusted that we were doing the right things. I don't know if the same is true for Kevin though.

Kevin Vanes:

Bryan started in sales. So I think he felt like he'd fit in there a little bit more. So, he'd get involved in the sales motion, but also at that stage of company, your CEO should be more involved in deals, you hit on something. Justin, Dan early on identified, he needed help and he needed Bryan's type of help. And he went and hired his own new boss. That sets one heck of a tone across an entire company, when that's the benchmark for expectation on putting company and team first. Bryan started as a [inaudible 00:17:32] and was in sales before he got into product. So he dug in, dug in more, but yet he was never granular. Right? Like, "Let me see these numbers. Let me see these numbers. Let me..." It was just, "Hey, tell me how you're going to get there," was more Bryan's. And then getting involved, he loved rolling up his sleeves and jumping in anywhere he could customer facing with us.

Justin Keller:

Especially on the customer side. And I think that's retrograde therapy for me, because I do now look back and be like, "Look, he didn't try to run every department. He tried to help his leaders and he trusted them that they're doing the right things." If there was an issue, he click on them, but he wouldn't try and break you down or kind of say, this is your fault. He would just try to get to the problem.

Trinity Nguyen:

So it sounds like the common thread is trust all around. Trust from the management to their team, but also trust among you guys. And then that cascade down to your a team as well. How do you manufacture trust? That's that's hard. How do you replicate that.

Justin Keller:

It's so hard. It's so hard. And I think it's become even harder. I don't know. Kevin could have had the same run because we five X'ed Sigstr in about two and a half years. I don't think we could have replicated that if we were working from home. There was so much of the energy, it was just kind of like lighting in a bottle.

Trinity Nguyen:

Oh no, this is going to be controversial.

Kevin Vanes:

Don't say that. Oh crap.

Trinity Nguyen:

Like, "Oh crap, we have to open an office now."

Justin Keller:

Yeah.

Christian Kletzl:

Justin says this from his home.

Justin Keller:

Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Kevin Vanes:

It is such an interesting topic nowadays. I don't know, because I haven't started another company in today's environment, but there is so much of that early culture and information sharing is things, and now there's tools that didn't exist then to make that could probably help bridge some of that gap. But yeah, there is something too. I was just in the office last week and I forgot how nice it was to sit next to Charlie, Justin, Charlie Bloom. And just to turn to him like, "Hey man, I forget how to fix this. Can you help me? I'm jumping on a call in two minutes." Yeah. Slack could have done the same thing. For me, it was it nice to see Charlie turn to me and just help me. It was really, really nice. And that happens all over the place. I'm converted. I love being at home. Love it. I think absolutely love it.

Trinity Nguyen:

I love the flexibility, but I hear what you guys saying. I want to go back to one of the points you guys mentioned. So your SDR team was moved from sales to marketing multiple times, back and forth. I'm assuming this is part of the account-based motion or is it just overall? Why did you guys do that?

Kevin Vanes:

That was probably one of the more difficult conversations we had Justin. Right. Sarah was a super high performer and we were trying to figure out just what was the right... So the sales side of the argument was they partnered, we paired them with their AEs. It was a development track. It was a feeder system. It was a farm system. They should live in sales. Marketing provided all the messaging and their direction on the accounts. And they needed to be fully engrossed in our go to market verbiage and everything that Justin was doing with content. So I don't think there was a right or a wrong answer. It had been in sales forever and I will never, even Emily helped us work through that. Right? That was a big ego test. Just from a roles and it was a big team.

Justin Keller:

It was a big team. I don't know, I've seen it bounce back and forth. I think it's the cycles of the moon. Like, "Where's the SDR team today?" And there's really good reasons to have it in one or both. I do think though that what I found through that was that, if you are super account focused, if you're trying to get into marketing, if you're really trying to make your SDRs part of your marketing channel then it's better for Northern, in marketing. We did the same thing at Drift, we moved the SDR under me. Here, for that exact reason, that said, Kevin's right. That's your farm for your future needs for the most part. And there does need to be that alignment with the sales team and they've got to have that trust. And that's where I think to your question about how you manufacture trust. When you've got people that report up through you, who are relied upon very heavily by people that are not in your department, trust is critical. Otherwise, that thing's going to fall apart really quickly and people are going to be miserable in their jobs.

Trinity Nguyen:

That's true. Yeah, for us that we have ADR within marketing team. Marketing is responsible for top of the funnel, sourcing. There's no attribution, there's no inbound versus outbound, everyone go out together, source that pipeline. But right now we are addressing like, how do we make sure that there's a career development path because a lot of the EO ones become AEs. So a lot of pairing and coaching to make sure that they ready to become AE level one when it's time. So definitely living right now. What you guys just described.

Justin Keller:

Well, I feel like once they move to marketing, we turned a lot more of our SDRs into marketers than we did. Well, I get started. There may be a trend there. Yeah.

Kevin Vanes:

Yeah. They start picking up those stripes.

Christian Kletzl:

I see that. I'm actually curious, if you start right from beginning then like SDR is being marketing. I think this is one thing that if you actually move them over from sales to marketing, do you actually have internal conflict? Kind of like you're reducing my head count by maybe like 50% as a sales leader.

Kevin Vanes:

Yeah. That's part of the ego check, right? It was a question. Is this because I'm not helping that team perform the way it should be? Or is this a business decision that makes sense. Like, even if it's just a business decision, that makes sense. You have to set that aside, if you're self aware, because you should be asking yourself these questions, if you want to be improving, even if the answer is, "No, this is just an easy business decision. We're going to try something new," makes sense for how the strategy's shifting you can't help, but be introspective a little bit and be like, "Could I be doing something better? What could I have done?"

Justin Keller:

Yeah, it's too like every quarter is kind of that introspection like, "Well that quarter did that go quite the way we hope. What is wrong with me as a human that could have made this better?"

Kevin Vanes:

It came up with the term, a healthy sense of indifference. And that is, I have that mantra now about work. Healthy sense of indifference to separate just that Jay, too many of crisis of conscience or confidence.

Trinity Nguyen:

I'm going to steal that. I'm going to steal that. I'm going to even use that with my team too, because otherwise like it's hard. When the world is going one way and your expectation or forecast is another way the team does feel the burden. Right? So sometimes it's good to be a little bit indifferent. It would be okay. You guys touch on a lot of key points that many revenue practitioners going through right now. So from the account-based, setting from lead-based to account-based is one thing. But also just the SDR, where do they sit? These are the things that I keep hearing people talk about like, "Oh, how do I manage and develop SDR now, now that they under marketing. I want to go from MQL to account-base. What are your tips? If you could distill them, advice top three tips.

Kevin Vanes:

I think about a couple of things, Trinity. One, I'd make sure I have a clear business objective for ABM in that really has to start with, it's not just a marketing tactic. It's a philosophy that's going to achieve efficiency. So start there. And if you don't have alignment, then that usually has to go up to some sort of, for us, it was the CEO. Bryan and Dan, whomever had to be bought into that for Justin and I to be able to go and execute it. So if you don't have that, that's going to be a hard road [inaudible 00:24:44]. And then once you've established that move into what is the one revenue metric I think I can influence because theoretically ABM should be more efficient. "Do I want to shorten my deal cycle? Do I want to get some bigger deals? Do I want to create opportunities at a higher rate?" Right. So don't try and boil the ocean.

Kevin Vanes:

And then the third piece would be start super, super, super small. Don't overwhelm yourself. If you think ABM could easily start to include, not just these accounts, but then they can include different stages of the pipeline, do things different. Then I'm including direct mail and I'm going to include events or like one-to-one outreach. It can get overly complicated, super fast, because it is more than just a channel or a tactic. It's a true program or a philosophy. So pick an SDR and an AE and try and run a few programs, and then start to build and layer slowly, but be a little bit methodical about it. I know that's hard in a world where we want to experiment and try different things. Right? But being methodical to build it the right way, there's so many resources now, it's stupid. To mess it up means you didn't look hard enough or ask for help. Sorry, I should say you're going to make mistakes, but to not get off to a good start because a lack of willingness to look or ask, find the resources is a bit of a failure.

Justin Keller:

Everything Kevin said was a million percent true. And to underpin, our first three ABM campaign, we had no technology for it. It's not like you need to spend money against it. It was literally me in the marketing team sitting down and literally making a hundred landing pages for a hundred different accounts that were all personalized. And getting the sales team to understand what we're doing and to care about it. That is the hardest thing to scale, I think with an ABM program, is that amount of partnership between marketing, between the sales dev organization and then the sales team. Understanding what everyone's doing, where to look, where to be when they're going to get the ball passed to them. How to look at data, how to communicate. That's the really hard stuff. You can buy all the tech you want in the world doesn't mean it's going to work, if you don't have that alignment in that agreement.

Trinity Nguyen:

That's perfect. This is perfect. Everyone just listen to this and then you're going to be okay. So in the board meeting, did you guys present together in one slide?

Justin Keller:

We didn't share a slide other than pipeline? I think pipeline was a both of us thing.

Kevin Vanes:

The way they ran the board meetings changed over time. We were all in there, to start and then we would rotate through the different sections. So we wouldn't all have to sit in these meetings all day. So they evolved over time. But I'd say most of the ABM stuff, Justin like fell to you. I was a lot of rep productivity and deal cycle metrics is what I focused on a lot with the board.

Justin Keller:

I'm just trying to rewrite history. I'm thinking it would've been cool if we, or if your sales and marketing leaders were responsible for the same content in a board meeting, I think that's kind of a good way of forcing some friendship to happen. When you've got the board sharing you, looking at that, I think that's a pretty good forcing function.

Trinity Nguyen:

That's great. Well, I really envy the relationship that you guys have. So I hope that we have it here at UserGems too, because it sounds fantastic, but thank you so, so much for making the time.

Justin Keller:

Love it anytime. Thank you.

Kevin Vanes:

It was fun.

Justin Keller:

This was a great reunion for Kevin and I. So I appreciate, that's all the gift I needed.

Trinity Nguyen:

Sounds like a reunion for you guys. I'm so happy. You guys get a chance to catch up.

Christian Kletzl:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of The First 100 Days. Be sure to hit that follow button as we get more revenue teams to share their stories every week.