Demandbase's CEO Chris Golec: Finding the Companies That Should Be Buying From You

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Chris Golec is the CEO of Demandbase.

In this exclusive interview, CRM Buyer discusses with Golec the challenges and rewards of intelligent targeting.

CRM Buyer: How do you define account-based marketing?

Chris Golec: Account-based marketing is really about marketing to the accounts that are aligned with your sales team. It's been done for years, but today there's a whole technology and practice around being able to market to accounts at scale, and this wasn't possible until about four or five years ago.

It's a focused, targeted marketing approach. The other thing I would add is that ABM is not a single point solution. It's really about marketing to accounts from the top of the funnel to the bottom, and it's also about marketing to accounts that are already customers. It really spans the full customer lifecycle.

CRM Buyer: Why do you think ABM is an effective strategy?

Golec: It works because you're eliminating an incredible amount of waste. A lot of marketing solutions are volume-based, whereas the sales team is really focused on quality. So there's a huge breakdown between marketing [and] sales.

ABM is really about focusing your marketing programs and dollars on the accounts that are most appropriate for your company. People are adopting ABM because it offers a better ROI on their marketing.

Golec: It starts with sales and marketing aligning around target accounts or industries. That sales and marketing alignment is crucial. And as companies get more mature in their use of ABM, it's about aligning the success metrics that are tied to sales.

When you start aligning the sales and marketing teams on opportunity generation, deal size, and close rates, you really get true sales and marketing alignment.

CRM Buyer: What does artificial intelligence have to do with ABM?

Golec: A lot of B2B companies know who their target companies are, but others are still searching. You can apply artificial intelligence when crawling the entire Internet and understanding businesses and who they do business with, and you can also use it to help craft the right messaging to the right people at those companies.

CRM Buyer: How can an organization best identify and target key accounts?

Golec: It can be as simple as profiling your current customer base, and going after companies that look like them. A lot of companies do that by looking at their current customers, making up a list, and connecting it with sales.

More sophisticated approaches involve looking across the Internet and finding companies. There's so much information out there, and you can find companies that should be buying your products and services when you have AI to do it at scale.

A lot of companies wonder who they should market to. Paid search is all about finding companies in the market, but it doesn't filter based on account.

If you crawl the Internet and find signals, you're finding companies that are in market for your product and services. If you sell security solutions, for instance, there's enough information on the Internet that indicates who is investing in security.

The information is out there -- social signals, SEC filings, etc. It's one thing to create algorithms, and it's another to make it useful for a B2B or ABM space.

CRM Buyer: How can ABM be made vertical-specific?

Golec: It helps customers to relate to and understand how they can apply ABM within their vertical. It's incredible to see how many industries are now applying ABM. Every large vertical now is starting to adopt ABM. They all have the same problems, and their teams are trying to focus on their accounts, but when you can put it in their language, it becomes much easier for them to understand how ABM can be applied to their business.

CRM Buyer: What are some of the most significant trends in the ABM space?

Golec: One key trend is the application of ABM across the whole funnel, all the way through sales. That's important. The other piece is that ABM is not just digital. You have to think about it with your offline programs as well. When we go to an event, for instance, we look at last year's event, and we filter based on types of accounts that are most valuable. Combining digital and offline efforts is important.

CRM Buyer: What's in the future for ABM? How is it evolving?

Golec: There's going to be increased automation and optimization, and there's going to be an increased ability to make disparate marketing systems talk to each other at the account level. We're just getting started with AI, and you'll see a lot of things in the next year -- everything from the personalization of websites to the triggering of advertising. There's so much data out there, and we're just at the beginning of harvesting and mining it.

Freelance writer Vivian Wagner has wide-ranging interests, from technology and business to music and motorcycles. She writes features regularly for ECT News Network, and her work has also appeared in American Profile, Bluegrass Unlimited, and many other publications. For more about her, visit her website. You can also connect with Vivian on Google+.

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