Q1: What are the biggest technology or data focused issues the (martech, adtech) industry is facing?
Cole: When it comes to data specifically, most B2B organizations don’t just have a single, good data team or committee. Typically, a sales team will pull a list for a sales organization, but there’s no cadence on how up-to-date that list needs to be. There’s no approach to data enrichment. There’s no thought process on “how are we going to utilize this to watch someone move through the user journey.” It’s just straight up: let’s pull a list. And the first thing a B2B organization usually does is send out cold emails to this list. And in truth, that’s one of the worst things one could ever do.
There are also email regulations to consider. There will be high bounce rates as well as high spam rates. Trying to utilize this from a digital perspective is just a nightmare especially if you have no idea where to even start. Basically, even if someone has the capabilities to upload a list as described from a technology standpoint, in to the individual platforms, the response may be a 60% match rate or less.
The challenges for the individual user are as follows. There may be a huge knowledge gap in addition to a fear of the many regulations that control certain kinds of data. Questions such as “Where are you getting this data from? How are you utilizing it? Is it going to come across as creepy?” Challenges are concerning the access to the data, and additionally from a concierge perspective, the challenge of “how do I even know what data to pull?”
Most sales organizations are focused mainly on the decision-maker. A sales person wants to know to whom should I speak and who is going to write the check? The buying committees are much more complex these days: there are influencers, naysayers, budget holders, and champions. All of these people have to be taken into consideration relative to who is in that buying committee based on these personas.
Being able to use tools like Versium to segment out all of these different audiences in different ways, and being able to increase your match rates, to be able to find more of them at a higher frequency, is both a challenge, but the result is finding yourself ahead of your competition.
Q2: Has the technology opportunity combined with the complexity of the issues surpassed people’s current competence level?
Cole: The tech stacks that are involved today are so complex. From the infrastructure of your CRM to your marketing automation software, making sure that they are working together properly, all the way to the complexities of intent data. Right now, most people are just looking at your own properties. The actual decision process happens in what we call the “dark funnel.” This relates to all the research you do online that happens prior. Being able to tap into things like intent data, and actually buy data from companies that are seeing people within an organization, those taking the first step. And recognizing they are at an inflection point or doing research before they even hit you as a potential candidate, to solve that particular problem for them.
People are just starting to scratch the surface. It is somewhat like ying and yang, very dualistic. You need to understand how to do this, not only from a technology and a platform standpoint, you have to also know how to connect with the end user from a content standpoint. You have to know on what level they exist in the buyer journey. What’s going to interest them at that point in the journey? People don’t want to have someone come at them from a sales perspective in a spammy way. They want them to be there when they are ready, at their time, and when they are poised and situated to specifically work with them.
Q3: Is it early days in the industry?
Cole: We are still in the early stages. As an example, during COVID, a lot of companies suffered greatly, and while I really do feel for that circumstance, I had the complete opposite result happen to my business.
It was akin to having a long sought-after medicinal cure because I could give a solution to a B2B organization which had never thought about doing digital. Most business organizations are doing an inbound approach where they are throwing out a big net, and we are promoting laser focus on one individual and following them around until they are ready to be sold in that buyer journey.
Q4: In a complicated industry where should simplification occur?
Cole: It would behoove all of these technology partners to really focus on the education level in a white-glove type of service. I think the company who wins is the company who can give personal, catered service. Versium has so many great opportunities because they have higher match rates, they have a lower cost, they can do a lot of really, really great targeting perspectives.
Q5: What about your firm and what keeps you enthusiastic?
Cole: I started this agency because I wanted to do something different. I started the firm around B2C with a large focus on trying it with paid media. We were really great at having an obsession with not just targeting hundreds of thousands of people, but targeting the exact right person. The foremost question was: What if we could just target one person? It was almost like a game to see how we could accomplish this objective. It wasn’t until we started to work with other consultants and other agencies, when someone came to us and said, “Hey, from a B2B perspective, can you do the same thing?” And we said, “Sure, we totally can.”
We did everything we could to research how to approach this from a B2B standpoint. And then we started to grow the agency, we started to realize that what we were doing was account-based marketing.
Being able to utilize a tool like Versium where we can target both a day and night profile for a human being, is a game changer because the platforms themselves have limitations.
Also, making sure that good sales and marketing alignment is a huge priority for us. When you think of data, you always think of numbers and letters, but data is also determined on how sales teams are putting in information, and how they speak to the end user. This includes everything from past customers to current customers, but that data is the most important data of all because it has one’s perspective. It tells us what a sales team feels more comfortable selling. We figure out who all the target accounts are after the TAM. Our goal is to realize the crème de la crème type of customers. Identifying the smaller segment within those target accounts… these accounts are the proverbial golden ticket.
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