/Break Free B2B Series: Jon Miller on How ABM Can Help Marketers Keep Their ‘Ship’ Together

Break Free B2B Series: Jon Miller on How ABM Can Help Marketers Keep Their ‘Ship’ Together


Do you know that account-based marketing (ABM) is like spearfishing? Or that effective ABM requires sales and marketing departments to act like a unified soccer team? Or have you heard that some say B2B marketing may be heading for a shipwreck?

These were just some of the great analogies that Jon Miller, CEO and co-founder of Engagio, shared with our very own Susan Misukanis during a recent Break Free B2B interview. And, while Jon threw around analogies like a doting owner tossing a frisbee for his dog in the backyard, he also provided deep insights based on his impressive experience in marketing which also includes being a co-founder of Marketo.

According to Jon, all signs point to a dramatic shift in B2B marketing tides.

“Marketers need to break free over the next 10 years by radically changing how they work with sales, stopping the baton handoff model and really moving to a much more of an integrated team,” he said.

Marketers need to break free over the next 10 years by radically changing how they work with sales, stopping the baton handoff model and really moving to a much more of an integrated team. @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM Click To Tweet

Jon believes that ABM is essential for the future health of B2B marketing. But while he’s all in on ABM—it’s his business after all—he admits that there are some significant obstacles to perfect implementation including cross-department communication and consistent data. “It’s really hard to be aligned when you’re looking at different information,” he said. 

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The excellent news is that Jon had plenty of suggestions to help marketers stay afloat if B2B marketing veers from its current course. So, check out the full interview to learn why B2B marketing is changing, the value of ABM, and how to keep your ship together when things get choppy. 

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Jon Miller

If you’re hunting for specific ABM insights, use the following to jump ahead to specific sections or check out some interview highlights captured in the excerpts below. 

  • 0:36 – Why marketers need an ABM system
  • 1:54 – ABM is a new way to fish
  • 2:47 – Taking proactive measures to land the right fish
  • 3:54 – Resources required to build out your ABM team 
  • 4:32 – How ABM is like a soccer game
  • 7:03 – B2B marketing heading for a shipwreck
  • 8:00 – What’s privacy got to do with it?
  • 9:13 – Old revenue models aren’t sustainable
  • 10:08 – The explosion of digital noise
  • 10:38 – The future of B2B Marketing
  • 12:31 – How an ABM stand-up unsticks opportunities
  • 15:37 – The importance of data in marketing and sales alignment 
  • 17:23 – Using 3rd party intent data, for all intents and purposes
  • 20:56 – Scaling ABM based on deal size
  • 25:17 – Who’s winning at ABM?
  • 27:40 – The future of content marketing 
  • 29:40 – How can marketers break free? 

Susan: Account-based marketing is still arguably in its infancy. What what are the drivers? Why does a marketing professional need an ABM system?

Jon: When I was doing marketing at Marketo, we were responsible for generating as much as 80% of all the pipeline that the sales team was closing … What we had been doing [in demand generation] was fishing with a net … We’d throw these campaigns out there, … we didn’t care which fish we caught; we just cared if we’d catch enough fish. 

When we started to go after the bigger companies—our existing customers and so on— it was something more like fishing with a spear where we would identify who we wanted, and then we’d find ways to … proactively go after them. That was a pretty different model. That model is ultimately what came became known as account-based marketing. 

The drivers of ABM are really capturing that story. It’s the need to go upmarket. It’s the need to find new growth engines. It’s the people realizing that inbound only gets you so far. You don’t get to control who responds. So I think those are the main factors why ABM has become hot.

The drivers of ABM are… the need to go upmarket. It’s the need to find new growth engines. It’s the people realizing that inbound only gets you so far. @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM Click To Tweet

Susan: You write about B2B marketing heading for a shipwreck? Can you dig into that?

Jon: In the era of marketing automation, I think marketing did a lot to change the way people thought about the marketing department … And that helped shift the perception of marketing to be a real part of the revenue process … but that model that was built, the linear handoff [between marketing and sales]—that’s breaking down.

For example, privacy regulations have really come around. And that means that’s a lot harder for marketing to send emails at the top of the funnel. And at the same time, you’ve seen the rise of tools like Outreach and Salesloft.

So that’s a big change in the role of marketing. You don’t get to just be the email people at the top of the funnel anymore, because that’s going away. You’re going to have to shift and adjust where you spend your time and energy. 

And another big change on top of all that is the rise of recurring revenue models … the vast majority of revenue that companies create today happens after that initial sale. And yet, most marketing departments are still focused on generating new business … there needs to be an adjustment about how the marketing department thinks about what their job is.

The explosion of digital noise means that traditional marketing channels like ads are becoming less and less effective … What marketers need to think about is, how do I orchestrate multiple channels together?

The explosion of digital noise means that traditional marketing channels like ads are becoming less and less effective … What marketers need to think about is, how do I orchestrate multiple channels together? @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM Click To Tweet

You put all that together, and I think we’re going to see a very different role for B2B marketing departments in the next 10 years. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more interviews to provide inspiration to your marketing efforts. 

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