The ability to pivot go-to-market strategies based on business needs is vital to continued success in the B2B world. Even in the most volatile of industries, adopting an all-account funnel strategy can better position marketers to provide sales teams the support they need to continue to close deals and drive business.
ServiceMax, the cloud-based field service management company, has had great success adopting an all-account funnel that allows the marketing team to understand how engagement with key stakeholders at target accounts is accelerating deals. Taking this approach has helped the company uncover key areas in the funnel where engagement is vital for boosting win rates, which ultimately led to more productive marketing, inside sales and account executive engagement that streamlined the customer experience.
Since the start of 2016, the company’s go-to-market strategy has pivoted and evolved heavily. Most recently, ServiceMax’s sales team adopted a “sales pod” structure that includes a mix of account executives, customer account managers for cross-sell/upsell, inside sales reps and solution architects that focus on roughly 80-120 accounts per pod. In total, the company is targeting more than 4,500 accounts.
However, continuous organizational structure changes over the past four years put the company’s marketing team in a unique position to adapt and align to sales’ needs.
“Four very distinct, different sales strategies adopted over four years had a lot of effects on the [marketing] team,” said Pat Oldenburg, VP of Demand Marketing and Operations at ServiceMax, during a session at the B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Specifically, continued changes in sales strategy resulted in several challenges:
- No performance history. “I couldn’t tell you the win rate in the East region, for example, because the East region didn’t exist last year, but it technically existed two-and-a-half years ago. Same with lead routing, account ownership velocity and win rates — we had none of that stuff.”
- One- to two-month reset each year. “My operations team hates life two months out of the year, because we have to completely redo everything. As far as lead routing, account ownership and opportunity ownership, the sales reps are always fighting and saying, ‘Well, I have this opportunity, I haven’t talked to them in six months, and now you’re giving them to Pete, and Pete has never talked to them.’”
- Heavy reliance on inbound. “From an inside sales perspective, [the above] causes a reliance on inbound. [Reps] have no idea what they’re working on for the first two months out of the year. So, they sit at their desk and wait for an inbound call or a new contact form because that’s the only way that they know who they’ve been assigned.”
- Inconsistent reporting. “There are reporting needs that change with each reset. Of course, if we have a named account strategy, it’s very different than the inbound strategy from before.”
With ServiceMax’s 2019 go-to-market initiatives, Oldenburg and his team committed to a variety of activities to support the sales team. This included trade shows and one-on-one events with prospects, as well as air cover through marketing collateral such as press coverage, blogs and other content. Oldenburg and his team were also committed to creating content for sales enablement, such as pitch decks, competitive analysis and more.
Prior to this, the team committed to producing leads and automated qualified leads (AQLs), which was a challenging task.
Oldenburg noted that things needed to change in order to meet those newer commitments.
“First, we needed to get rid of this lead/AQL/opportunity funnel. It’s no longer relevant for our particular business,” Oldenburg said. “We needed to go to an all-account funnel. We also needed a reporting framework that can be tiered and repeatable. The worst thing that can happen is we go into one of these operating reviews and sales and marketing are showing completely different numbers.”
Moving Beyond The AQL
By taking an all-account strategy, ServiceMax needed to readdress its stance on AQLs to focus more on account engagement to drive action from inside sales reps, account executives and the marketing team.
“But to get beyond AQLs, we had three main things to address,” said Oldenburg. “We had to be better with account selection, we had to move toward stronger intent signals and then we had this new funnel stage we had to address.”
For account selection, Oldenburg and his team understood that they had to reassess their ideal customer profile by assessing a variety of explicit and implicit data from current customers.
“We had many stakeholder interviews,” Oldenburg said. “We also looked at win/loss rates by industry, company size, geography, CRM, install base and more. We then came out with this finite list of [attributes] that can differentiate good and bad accounts.”
ServiceMax then identified accounts meeting the attributes within its new target market, which ultimately became its new target account base.
“We gave it to sales and said, ‘Here are the accounts that we consider our target accounts this year. We would like you to pick 20 — 120 per pod — that you feel you’ve either made traction with or can make major inroads with for massive revenue within the next 12 months,” Oldenburg said.
This push to focus on intent data was vital to ServiceMax because it positioned reps to engage accounts based on those buying signals, instead of waiting for qualified leads to be passed along to them — increasing productivity and enhancing the buying experience.
“[Intent] is kind of the big moment for the inside sales team, since they have been relying on these AQLs to trigger a call or email within 48 hours,” Oldenburg said.
The company works heavily with Demandbase and Engagio to gain a deeper understanding into how stakeholders at target accounts are engaging with owned properties and relevant topics on outside sources. For example, the Demandbase reports are sent weekly to account owners and the ISRs that own the contacts within them to showcase three things:
- It highlights your accounts that are in the news for a particular area — for ServiceMax, it is for field service management software related terms;
- It shows the activity from accounts on the website, such as what and how many pages they engaged with; and
- It shares how many times these accounts are searching for related terms on the company’s website.
“This has been really helpful; it helps the teams prioritize their week, have a calling plan with their account executive and just tier accounts this way,” Oldenburg said.
The company also looked to uncover real-time intent signals through a Demandbase integration with Slack. The integration positions reps to receive alerts on stakeholders within target accounts who are engaging with the ServiceMax website — offering opportunities for more relevant and timelier outreach.
For the new “qualified account” stage, Oldenburg noted that it came directly from the company’s use of Engagio and positions accounts within the funnel similarly to how AQLs used to previously be placed in the company’s sales funnel.
“It’s a pre-funnel predictor of future opportunities,” Oldenberg said. “This qualified account stage is set by multiple contacts within the account. [This] helps us get around the problem of the bulk account loading where certain accounts have AQLs, and then we get one opportunity.”
The reporting from Engagio aims to help Oldenburg and his team identify how multiple stakeholders within a target account are engaging with the brand. Once the account reaches a certain engagement threshold, it can then be moved along the sales funnel.
“Ultimately, this stage is time bound, people bound and activity bound,” Oldenburg concluded.
ServiceMax’s Three-Tier Reporting Framework
Oldenburg noted that one of the other outputs from taking an all-account approach to their go-to-market initiatives was in the company’s reporting framework. He added that the reporting and measurement was broken down into three tiers to ensure everyone from the board to the campaign managers had the information they needed to understand performance.
For the board of directors, Oldenburg stated that, “in addition to forecasts and actual attainment of bookings, they are looking for information on pipeline generation, bookings coverage, penetration of target accounts and a comparison between the committed and actual sourced opportunities.”
The marketing and sales leadership teams meet weekly to discuss four key areas:
- Velocity: “This is from stage zero to one, which is a demo,” Oldenburg noted. “Then, stage one to stage two is the handoff from inside sales to outside sales. These are two pivotal moments in the opportunity when, if they don’t happen fast and at a certain rate, our win rate drops pretty significantly.”
- Stage Progression: This is the conversion rate of accounts from stage one to stage two;
- Account Activity: This represents the number of active accounts, based on engagement minutes, that have yet to be engaged with by sales; and
- Opportunity Influence: “We use LeanData to see all the successful marketing touches and all the sales touches on and off,” Oldenburg noted.
Finally, Oldenburg highlighted the three main types of reports the campaign managers in the marketing team review to understand performance. The first is a heat map of channel performance, the second is the overall performance of marketing per campaign and the third is a report on the account funnel broken down by regions.
“All 40 regions have an account funnel that the field marketing teams review with their sales rep,” Oldenburg said. “They go over what accounts have no engagement and discuss ways to partner and try to get those accounts forward in the funnel already, or to wipe them out of the selected accounts.”
Ultimately, taking an all-account focus at ServiceMax better enabled Oldenburg and his team to not only streamline marketing efforts for the company’s new sales initiatives, but it also helped set a new reporting framework that clearly highlights the insights needed by all tiers of the organization to do their jobs. Oldenburg stated that identifying key areas of the funnel for engagement helped “increase win rates dramatically,” while also streamlining marketing efficiency.