A Lively Discussion with Olivier Thierry on Mastering AI-Powered ABM to Increase Sales
It was incredible to host one of the breakout sessions this year at Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference in Las Vegas. The premise of the session was that ABM is incomplete without predictive and AI capabilities. While most companies are just starting their ABM journey, Olivier Thierry, CMO of Quorum Software has become a master. So, it was fitting to have him lead our discussion and share how he’s bringing his vision of ABM-at-scale to life at Quorum.
Since AI was in the title of the session, participants were eager to dive into the bits and bytes. However, Olivier’s advice was to think about AI more like Augmented Intelligence, Augmented Understanding, Augmented Discovery, and Augmented Targeting. As Olivier put it, “I believe a platform that has AI at the core is a much better approach, but I’m not overly concerned with the models and algorithms, it’s the results that matter.”
And Quorum is seeing results. Moving away from a “spray and pray” approach to a much more targeted and personal approach, has led to a YoY 40% increase in opportunities, allowing Quorum to reach their annual pipeline goal in less than 9 months.
Olivier credited the success to a few things:
- Rather than waste time on “picking accounts,” Olivier started by uncovering what we at 6sense call “the dark funnel.” These are the accounts that are anonymously coming to Quorum’s website, or actively researching their products and/or services on third party sites. After all, we know 70+% of the sales cycle is done via digital research before you even speak with a prospect. Every participant was nodding their heads agreeing with this as a major pain-point they all face.
- Quorum put their ABM platform to work right away. As a CMO with no inclination to hire IT resources, it is important to Quorum marketing that all of the tools in the stack be SaaS and open to multiple integration points. Deployment and integration needs to be straight forward. Olivier said that deployment of 6sense during the evaluation phase consisted of dropping a small tag on their website in order to demonstrate the discovery of “dark” accounts and their activities along with the ability to perform some initial behavioral segmentation. Once the purchase decision was made, no other installation was required and the ABM platform was readily available for use in order to target the right marketing touches, with the right message, at the right time. From ads, to personalized videos, to driving traffic to a trade show booth, Quorum was rapidly able to make their marketing dollars and efforts yield far better results.
- Shifting Quorum’s focus to an account, not a person. Gartner cited that, based on their research, 9.6 people participate in a typical B2B buying decision. This is up from last year and will likely grow next year. The buying committee, or what Olivier calls the “demand unit,” is the critical point of focus. Olivier’s team has invested the time to really understand each of the personas that make up an individual product’s demand unit. Once personas and demand units are built, technology can be utilized to enrich account data on each persona, determine which personas are engaged and not engaged, and then determine the next best content stream and medium that drives augmented engagement and conversions. In fact, Olivier plans to abandon the traditional “lead” measurement during 2019 in favor of 6sense’s 6QL approach or MQLAs (where A is for account) – which is all about scoring an account, not a lead.
- A well-orchestrated and careful roll out to sales. Salespeople are, of course, a critical part of the equation, but are unlikely to spend time digging for information. The shift to an ABM strategy needs to be clear, concise, and accurate, or Sales is unlikely to adopt. Olivier is in the process of delivering accounts to Sales that are “in-market” with the right level of detail on the personas who are engaged, along with suggested next steps for Sales reps, making it easy for them to quickly engage on the account and drive revenue results. He is doing this with selected products and a portion of the sales team in order to gauge success before a broader rollout.
At this point in the session, participants were excited but were questioning if this might all sound too good to be true. Surely, something like this must have taken Quorum forever to set up and cost a fortune in piecing together different technologies to make it all work.
Fortunately for all of the session participants – and all B2B Sales and Marketing professionals out there – Olivier put that notion aside. In fact, not only did it not take forever to set up, Quorum was actually able to start uncovering their “dark funnel” within 48 hours, and in just a few weeks had established targeted segments for accounts and personas that were generating results.
From a technology perspective, the combination of 6sense, Tealium, Uberflip, Pardot and Salesforce for CRM and email automation, Quorum has been able to execute a range of use cases from a simple ad targeting campaign to a highly complex multiple touch build-up and follow-up for a big trade show. Olivier is even going to begin leveraging this strategy for creative use cases like influencer marketing and partner engagement. Using Quorum’s 6sense enabled Martech stack, Olivier and his team have been able to augment their targeting, identification and engagement with existing and newly found accounts, and drive significant value to Quorum’s business.