The Missing Piece in the Revenue Marketing Engine | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

The Missing Piece in the Revenue Marketing Engine

By Joe McNeill

Double your pipeline with half the resources and a lot less budget. Simple, right? Sheesh... no wonder outbound is under so much pressure right now. Not only does it seem like the most reliable lever to pull, given the circumstance, but it feels like the only one.

What happened? Not long ago the venture capital market was red hot. It was a buyer's market driven by product-led growth. Inbound felt like a cheat code for growing pipeline.

Now what?

More Outbound Volume Isn't Enough

Here comes predictable, reliable outbound to steady the ship. But only 27 percent of outbound teams were hitting their quota at the end of 2022, according to a Pavilion survey. It's a trend that has held true throughout 2023, leading most revenue professionals to conclude that more outbound prospecting — more calls, emails, and LinkedIn messages — just isn't cutting it.

All this focus on outbound also puts a lot of onuses on SDRs and AEs, who are finding it more difficult than ever to get attention in a market now saturated with noise.

The scenario reminds me of my time working for a Danish company. At the leadership meetings in Copenhagen, the chairman would always ask me, "what keeps you up at night?" Sometimes it was those board meetings, honestly. But usually, I was thinking about how 10 to 50 SDRs controlled 75 percent of our total pipeline. They decided who we talked to and who our opportunities were with.

As much as I love SDRs, it was a lot. So, we decided to give them territories, persona maps, and help find the right individuals to call. In the end, we spent more time coaching SDRs on how to engage with prospects rather than how to find prospects.

Similar story for the AEs. Though today the problem is figuring out how to give AEs a scientific method for the first best activity to move their opportunities forward or grow their pipeline. What to do right now to move opportunities forward, to create meaningful engagement with their territory.

To hit quota.

Finding an Answer to "Who to Call? What to Say?"

"All go-to-market motions come down to answering two simple questions," says Matt Heinz. Who to call? What to say? And helping to answer these questions repeatedly — with great specificity — is where marketing can help make sales easier.

But only with a strategy capable of overcoming any misalignment between sales and marketing.
Account-based marketing (ABM) has tried valiantly to do so. It makes a lot of sense to take target accounts and put all bandwidth toward engaging them. But salespeople don't call accounts. Deals don't happen between accounts. And even though ABM's reliance on IP addresses and some individual cookie-ing/targeting can bear fruit, it can be difficult to take action on the information ABM creates.

Contact-Level Targeting and Intent Change the Game

Contact-level targeting, on the other hand, ensures that marketing targets the same people that sales does. Outbound, but for marketing, if you will. Using individually targeted ads, marketing can gather engagement signals on actual people within buying groups, multiple individuals within an open opportunity, and use that information to create a roadmap for sales to follow.

That this works really well shouldn't surprise you. SalesLoft conducted a study on contact rates for prospecting based on how many media types were used. If it's just emails, five percent. Add in calls and the rate doubles. Add in LinkedIn and it nearly triples.

Similarly, the 2023 Ebara B2B Sales Benchmark Report found that the higher the engagement within an opportunity, the higher the win rate. More engagement within a buying group tends to shorten sales cycles, too.

Did I mention that personalized air cover and better engagement happen to be two primary outcomes of contact-level targeting?

Better Unit Economics

We've established that using more media types in a sequence increases reply rates. But once you go through LinkedIn, email, and calling, it's hard to find additional types without spending a lot of time — especially for SDRs that are already busy.

For example, personalized videos will increase reply rates; however, making a personalized video for every prospect will dramatically decrease productivity. Ads targeted at the contact level weave another media type into the sequence without requiring additional bandwidth from SDRs.

This allows for increased reply rates, without decreasing productivity.

Better Marketing Attribution

Don't think that I've forgotten about the fact that marketers always want to prove the impact they're having on the bottom line. If they're warming up individuals and buying groups, they'll want to prove the influence their spend is having on pipeline and revenue results to leadership and the board.

By pushing contact-level intent — more specifically, the engagement data that results from those campaigns — back to the contact records in the CRM, you'll have a good answer when the CFO shows up and asks, Hey, why are we spending money on this?

The influence map is already there.

Let's say that over the course of a hypothetical quarter, SDRs reached out to about 5,400 accounts that marketing did not support at all — a cold audience that those SDRs converted at a 4 percent rate. As for the accounts that marketing provided air cover for in the form of contact-level targeted ads, the conversion rate was 8 percent. That's X additional opportunities for Y million in pipeline because of marketing influence.
All data points that can come directly from the CRM (and that most CFOs will appreciate).

Outbound Still Works. Contact-Level Intent Makes It Work Better.

At a time of significant market contraction, contact-level targeting is exactly what the doctor ordered. I've seen firsthand what this approach can do in terms of solving for latent pain in a down market. With contact-level targeting, your ideal customer doesn't have to be actively trying to solve their pain for you to reach them.
Not if you have a means for targeting those people very specifically.

I've also seen how this model can create a lot more transparency and, dare I say, synergy between sales and marketing. SDRs and AEs know who to call and what to say. Marketing is providing air cover that's aligned with that effort. And the two groups have a line of sight into what the other is up to.
It all starts with a shift toward people-based advertising and engagement data.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joe McNeill is the chief revenue officer at Influ2.