What Makes a Successful ABM Strategy? (Rachael Tiow, Auth0)
Matt Bilotti: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Growth podcast. I'm your host, Matt Bilotti. And today, we're going to talk about ABM, account based marketing. We're going to go deeper. We covered this a while back on the podcast. But today I have Rachael Tiow, who is a Director of ABM and Lifecycle Marketing, at Auth0. Rachael, thank you so much for joining.
Rachael Tiow: Hey. Thanks so much for having me.
Matt Bilotti: Absolutely. Rachael's been doing ABM type stuff for a while now. She's got some hot takes and some fundamentals to make sure that we're covering. So even if you've done ABM before, this is going to be a fantastic refresher. If you haven't, with some tips and tricks and all that fun stuff, if you haven't really done it before, it's going to be a great primer to get rolling. So Rachael, why don't you give a quick background on yourself and then we'll go ahead and jump in.
Rachael Tiow: Yeah. So I started out my career in tech as a sales development rep. And from that, it led me to becoming an AE because, let's be real, you don't learn A through Z halfway, you don't finish the whole alphabet cycle. So I thought, Hey, now that I know how to open deals, how do I learn how to close them? So that path has taken me to a variety of experiences. The odd thing is no matter how much I am in the role of closing deals, the opportunity of leading, managing, and starting teams to open deals, keep popping up. And I figured this must be some crazy synchronicity from the universe. So I took on that opportunity, which was what led me to build outbound at Auth0 at a time when 99 point a gajillion 9% of their deals are inbound. That then came to a point where I began to ask the question, okay, so much of what we do in sales can be automated by marketing and in the world of tech, that's what we're seeing. Can I gain new experiences by joining the marketing side of the house? And thankfully, Kerry, at the time, who was our director of demand gen says," Yes, please join our team." So I was adopted under her wing and I began a new career in trajectory under demand gen and built ABM at Auth0. So it all started out sales. And for those of us who are on the call, curious if they should join sales, yes, do it.
Matt Bilotti: Yeah. I did a short stint doing some sales stuff over at HubSpot. It is incredibly valuable to understand what that process looks like, get the rejection, understand how you can create the repeatable systems around it. I fully endorse that comment. So most people think about ABM as like this one to one type thing. And when we were talking about it before we hopped on the podcast, you were saying you think of it a little bit differently. Would love your kind of high level, how do you think about ABM? What makes it successful? What is the strategy that you use to approach it?
Rachael Tiow: That's a multi- layered very jam- packed question. So let's answer the first one, which is, is ABM one on one? Is that the only approach? How do we then approach ABM to make it successful? So I want to start off from, let's take a 50,000 foot view and look at what account based marketing is. It's not a new approach to go to market strategy or tactics. It's something that we've done it for a very long time, except we now have a fancy term, a fad term called ABM. If you think about it, ABM really is an approach and a philosophy to go to market or how we approach our total addressable market, which means how we approach the market can be multifaceted. We can go one on one, straight up," Hey, my goal is to prospecting to Drift. I want to build an entire dossier on Drift." Who are the decision makers? Who are the influences within the account and what are some of the challenges, based on our research, that they may be going through and our services can address? That's super targeted. Another one that we can look into, which is one to few. So let's just say Drift meets the criteria of our ideal customer profile type, we know who the key personas are, we know who the key influencers are. Now it could be departments, right? It doesn't have to be the specific individual. And they meet the criteria of the business industry they're in, could be employee size revenue, business segments, what have you. Let's just say Drift meets all their criteria. Then the one to few is how do we find all the lookalikes to Drift? Because if I can understand Drift that well, how I replicate that across 200 other accounts, which means we can then extrapolate that into one to many. What are all the 2000 accounts that are lookalikes to Drift? So those are the three approach that we have implemented and tried at Auth0, one to one, one to many, one to few. Where we spend a considerable amount of time for us is actually one to many and one to few. We can dive into that later as to why, but did that answer your question, Matt?
Matt Bilotti: Yeah, absolutely. How do you think about which one is right for me? I'm either doing one of them right now, and maybe I should be doing the other two or one of the other ones. How do you approach which one's right for anyone's approach?
Rachael Tiow: The first thing that popped in my head is bandwidth. If you're a one person show, how much can you do? There's no way that one individual can do one on one across, I don't know, 100 accounts. Believe it or not, the amount of time to understanding an account does take time. Let's also put it into perspective. You're on the marketing side of the revenue org. So you are prepping all the information that's necessary so that sales can then take on that dossier or the information packet and execute on it. The hardest part is usually the start. So to answer your question, I always recommend, depending on the size of the company, even if you are a large company like Dell, there is incredible value in starting at a very manual process or in a very manual way. What that means is you pick your top 20 accounts that you can identify as your key target accounts, because they meet all the criteria of what makes them a successful customer, because you can address their challenges. Then you go by one by one and understanding, okay, are there any similarities that we can call out? Are there any traits that I can identify. Now, this could be technologies that are complementary to Drift or for me is complementary to Auth0. Are there any industries that I find that may leverage Auth0, much more than other technologies because they, let's just hypothetically say one of the triggers is they're looking to build more applications. One of the things that Auth0 addresses is how do we remove authentication silos? So if they're looking to expand their business, that is a great business trigger for us. So as you're learning and you're going through the manual process, what you're training yourself to do is to quickly skim through what makes sense for the business and what doesn't make sense. Once you have that, you can then say," Hey, I can go into, I don't know, Discover or Zoom info and plug in some of the criteria to find more lookalikes. So that's how you can start. I would say start small. You don't have to boil the entire ocean, you just need a cup of tea. So microwave yourself a cup of water. Start from there, see what your experience has been based on what you can identify, share those learnings, and then build upon that.
Matt Bilotti: And you mentioned that at Auth0, you do a lot more of the one to many and one to few. Is that for you, mainly you've ruled out that the one to one just isn't quite worth it in the market or is it still more of a bandwidth, you haven't quite gotten the resourcing to do the one to one well?
Rachael Tiow: Yeah. So to do the one- on- one... So this is where, when we think about the ABM team, or at least how I've thought about the ABM team will be people, process, data and technology or tools. In terms of people, to do one on one, because I come from a sales background, I have a bias. I'll be very open and transparent about it, that I want somebody who has done some form of a sales prospecting role. Now this is a skillset, to do one on one. Can this be taught? Yes. But at the pace that we have been moving at Auth0, it's something that, oh, do I run back 10 miles to get this person ramped up, or do we just move in a direction that, hey, you know what, if we do want to one, it increases our pipeline by, I don't know, a fraction of a percent versus if we do one to many and one to few, which one are we going to pick? There's opportunity costs. So with the opportunity cost, what we have learned in the one to one is we started up with one to one to really learn what are the accounts. Are the ICPs that we thought about accurate across various business segments? Do we need to focus on industries or are we industry agnostic? What are some business triggers that we want to focus on? So we actually started up with the one to one to understand fully what our ICP is in a broad way. But the amount that we got back in pipeline gen with all the effort was so minimal that we thought, hey, can we, can we map this out, kind of Xerox copy it across all the lookalikes? And when we started doing that, oh my gosh, it actually works. So that means I don't have to get crazy detailed on a one- on- one, extrapolate the key information, map it out across one to many and one to few, and I can still see results. I do also want to touch on one thing. Right now in the tech space for the last 10 years, you may have heard of this term, how do we automate and scale personalization? Sorry, I don't have an answer. Perhaps this is something we can call Elon Musk about because he seems to be working on some really cool AI technology. But do we see the oxymoron in it? We want to personalize but we want to scale back. Personalization is one on one. It's not something that we can scale across the board. Right? So that's important to keep in mind. So that falls under, okay, if I want to do one on one and dedicate towards that, it almost needs to be a team on its own, whether it's within demand gen or ABM to focus on that.
Matt Bilotti: And looking back, if you could do it again, would you still start with the one on one because of all the learnings that you got from that process, or do you think there are parts of it that you can fast forward through and just start with the one to few?
Rachael Tiow: I think yes and no. So one thing that I find that's very unique to Auth0 was while we were experimenting with the one on one, I was actually building out the outbound prospecting team at Auth0. So what happened was Kerry and I at the time, got to work very closely on me giving feedback on, hey, actually here are some additional personas that we want to look into because as we do outbound, as we prospect those individuals, they actually respond back and our conversations are very positive. So the having that close relationship with demand gen at the time where we didn't have an ABM team, it was just me managing the SDR outbound team, having weekly conversations with Kerry, giving feedback between one another that enabled us to build that one on one on are these accounts we want to go after, here are some feedback that sales leadership says, and the AEs themselves says," Hey, we want to go after those accounts." So no, I would not skip that part because trust, but verify. We may have trustworthy information, but how do we verify that, hey, if we're going to double down and spend, I don't know, 250k on a program, it better work. And before we dump in 250k and we're going to spend 25k building out some program to really test out the hypothesis. Ultimately, it's kind of like science. I just want to test out my hypothesis. Is my hypothesis true? And even if it's not true, is it accurate? And what's the degree of its accuracy? If I can get anything that's 60 to 70% accurate, do it. We're all in, all in. It's not even blackjack. It doesn't even have to be 21 straight. Right? It's just anything that's above anybody's hands on the table, you win. So that's how we approach it. So no, I want to skip it. However, if you do have a team where, and you're at a company and you really know your historical customer information from the demographics, the technographics, the psychographics of your companies, you can skip it, but it's not an exercise that even through advising other startups, I don't advise them to just start that way. I think there's a lot of value in learning the manual work, right? If I may provide another analogy is why do we need to learn how to multiply in our heads when we have calculators. It's just one of those things where, because once you know, you can tell if the calculator is lying or not lying, and you can actually work on your own skill sets in identifying what is right and what's not right.
Matt Bilotti: And it almost sounds like going through the one on one process not only gives you the context and the confidence that what you're going to do is right, but it also generates and develops the relation relationships that you have across the teams and that bond between marketing and sales. And so I would wonder in your example, you start with the one to one stuff, you get the learnings there and then you scale to the one to few, one to many. I almost wonder if just doing a one to one process every now and then is just like a really good reset for any ABM team.
Rachael Tiow: It does. You just touched on a few things that are so critical. I think sometimes when we get so bogged down with work, we forget that we do work with humans. And having that relationship is so critical. It doesn't matter how many sales seminars, workshops, books, and they talk about how relationships don't matter because you got to be the challenger. Great. But you know what, who would you rather buy from, the challenger who is personable or the challenger who is a complete a- hole? We have an answer. So yeah, you're right, I recommend that because when you have relationships across sales or across marketing, the information that people give you will be much more fruitful because there's this baked in human psychology of reciprocity. Hey, Matt's been awesome to work with. I want to give him and arm him with all the information so that he can help me. So it's a very, I help you, you help me kind of situation. And on top of that, doing this, maybe depending on the pace of the company, sometimes quarterly can be, whoa, this is a lot because we don't have that big of a team and sometimes we just have to move very, very, very fast. But even if you do it once a year as a team exercise, and not just only limit it to ABM, if you can bake this into a culture of the team, I think it's very, very valuable. At Auth0, we have this value that we all live by, which is n plus one is greater than n. So if we can always learn and we add on top what we already know, the results would be greater than what we had, right? So it's a very useful exercise. In fact, we do that too. When I say that we don't do one on one, it's not something that is part of our core menu, so to speak. It's a special kind of thing. So every quarter, we will reach out to our strategic sales team and understand what's been going on. Did the previous program work? What would you like? Here is what we've done for the one to few and one to many. We want to get your feedback on if any of those things could work or can we build something new from scratch just for your set of accounts.
Matt Bilotti: Awesome. I love that. One thing that you mentioned a few minutes back was the four components for how you think about ABM. It was people, process, data and technology. I would love to just step through your philosophy on each, if we could do that.
Rachael Tiow: Yeah, definitely. So ABM, at the start of our conversation, I've mentioned that it's a way of thinking, it's a philosophy really, and it's also an approach. Now we can have all the thinking in the world, but if we can't execute on the thinking, it goes nowhere. So four things that I've learned through other mentors and leaders are to build a team in general. We need people. As the quote says, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team. So we need people. The second thing is once we have people, we need process in place. What this does is documentation." Hey, Matt met, what did you do? How did you do what you do? And are there anythings in that entire start to finish of your program that we can templatize?" Ultimately, what I'm hoping to do with the process is to help team stay focused on the task at hand, opens up partnership with other teams. Because once we know who does what, when it's due by and what needs to be completed, it makes it smoother. Now, as long as we have people involved, there's always some form of a friction. But with the process, hopefully it minimizes that. Another thing that I am very focused on with process is I don't want my team to spend countless hours doing repetitive tasks that can be offloaded to a tool or a process because human time is incredibly valuable. We can't buy it back. And when I have such talented people on the team, what a waste of talent and time for them to do repeated stuff, right? So that's one part. So then we talk about technology. Process and technology, they kind of go hand in hand. So what tools do we want to use so that we can implement a program, automate maybe 70% of a program? One of the few tools that we use right now on the ABM team is Sendoso, for online gifting. Alyce is another one. 6sense is a huge one. 6sense, I'm a huge fan. I'm not paid to say this on the call, but it has a very, very good ability to understand and study historical customer data, and pair that behavior up to all the accounts in the marketplace and start to bucketize them on their buying stage. So that's critical because that can feed into a process of, hey, what ABM programs do we run in life cycle two? How do I move accounts from the early buying stages or leap frog them into a different bucket so that we can all get to pipeline. And then data, right? If I have people process and technology, we need to somehow measure what is working and what's not. I think this is an old adage, you can't grow what you don't measure. Those are the four things that I've learned along the way that is super critical to ensure that we have a well oiled engine and also inviting people across different sales org, marketing org, to partner up with us and us with them as well.
Matt Bilotti: Love it. I got a couple questions on the different buckets. On the people side, how do you think about team structure? If someone's listening and they're saying," Oh, we want to build out a team or we want to evolve our team," any thoughts or tips on how to approach that?
Rachael Tiow: Are you thinking about building out an ABM team from scratch or evolving an existing team into an ABM team?
Matt Bilotti: Maybe we could just do both. So if you're doing it from scratch, do you just hire someone that's been doing ABM for 10 years or do you start it as a side thing of someone else on the marketing team? And then if you have one or two people, what do you from there?
Rachael Tiow: So we can take the cautionary approach with a lot of experimentation or we can take the approach of it's all in. So let's talk about the experimentation approach. This is huge at Auth0. That is, let's try it with something small and simple. Does it work? And if it does, let's double down. If it doesn't, what are some key learnings and how do we reiterate? So I'll give you an example. This is straight up from my experience at Auth0. Before I even officially pitched the idea to Kerry that," Hey, I think this is an ABM team," what we started doing was leveraging my sales experience, my prospecting experience and my sales manager experience in how do we test out ABM? Because how I actually truly think about ABM is how do I replicate what one sales rep can do across thousands of accounts, leveraging a process technology with the proper people, and then measure that data, right? Ultimately, I'm not trying to get sales people out of a job. They will never be out of a job, the rockstar ones. But how do we replicate what we can do one on one across multiple accounts. So when I was looking at, from that perspective, it was okay, let's pick top 40 accounts, let's study those accounts, let's see if they work. And if it does, let's replicate it across many more accounts. Thankfully it did work. And as I was in this role of, I don't even know what title I had at that point, but I remember Kerry recommending let's keep it generic, demand gen. I'm like,"Great, demand gen." But it came to a point where, as we were testing out this in depth understanding of what's in our total addressable marketplace, hey, SoCal enterprise is very different than Northeast enterprise, right? Once we understand those nuances, how do we start to work with each region based on the business segments as well and the account types? In the first year, all we did was direct mails. That was it. It was," Hey, I know these accounts work. Let's use a direct mail as a hook to open up doors into conversations." That really worked well. And then that opened up more opportunities, which was well, instead of sending Matt a direct mail straight up, is there a way that I can soften the approach? Can we have Matt join us at one of our developer marketing's event. Then send Matt a coffee gift card with no ask. Then a few weeks later, we drop him a direct mail. That actually worked even better, because we actually built a relationship with the person, with the company. And that was when we started to open up the flood gates to let's buy Sendoso, let's look into how we can collaborate across different demand gen teams on webinars, on developer marketing events, to physical events, well, when we were able to do that in person. So we didn't have an official ABM team until a year into me being on the demand gen side of the house. Now all of that is to say it can evolve, right? Because ultimately, if ABM is a way of thinking and a way of approaching our total addressable market, or it's an approach to the way you approach a market, the question that I ask is, do we actually need an ABM team? It's sort to, I don't know, you don't need to be Chinese to cook Chinese food.
Matt Bilotti: Yeah. It's a great question.
Rachael Tiow: It's a recipe I can teach you. I right. All of it is to say, there are many ways we can approach it. So that's the experimentation, let's learn and failing is part of learning. There's no way around it, right? Or, we can do the let's go all in, which is, let's just rewind back the clock. It was 2017, 6 months into it we know that ABM stylish stuff works. Rachael, let's go on and hire an entire team. We can as well. I've just been very hesitant in trying to do too much all at once. There are big numbers to hit. There's always big goals. But guess what? Those goals and numbers will always, always increase. There's no way around it. My job is to deliver on the company's goals, the team's goals. And very importantly, my role and my job is to also how do I maintain composure and calmness so that I can think so that we can actually attain and accomplish those numbers as well. So there's this push, pull thing. I think it's a very individual approach. This really exposes a person's way of thinking and way of living and accomplishing their goals. But my approach has been the surfing adage, slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
Matt Bilotti: Awesome. And when we think about process and programs and the data around it, would love to get maybe an example from the past two years when the process and the data comes in question, because the world flips on its head. How do you approach, all of a sudden our market has shifted, we have to change our processes around it, we have to look at the data differently? How have you approach that and how would you recommend others do the same?
Rachael Tiow: Yeah. I think the process changed because some of our programs changed. And let's use direct mails. Direct mails is one of our top performers. It's just one of those things where we live in a very digital world. But if you have something that's valuable to offer and it's tangible, oddly enough, people do respond. And because I used to work at Apple, truly the way Apple... I'm giving credit to my sales journey because I started out selling Apple. Apple doesn't care if people want to buy Apple. Apple cares about your experience the moment you walk into their store, the moment I'm on the phone call with you as a prospect, not even a customer yet. You're just a curious prospect. That allowed me to think about marketing from that perspective. I want you to have an experience. When you get the direct mail and you open up the direct mail, what's the experience? But all of that changed with COVID. Everyone's bunkering down at home. And we tried a few things. Sendoso has a feature, which is very, very helpful, which enables the prospect to update their mailing address. That can work potentially for sales and marketing folks, because we are so adapted to this world of gifting, direct mail, that can kind of stuff. But our personas, developers, IT, product managers, architects, security folks, they are super cautious. It's just in their nature and the line of work they're in. And on top of that, we're selling an identity platform, right? That did not work. The moment they click on that link and they know that it's not Auth0. com, it died. We went from a ROI of 15%, accounts to SQL, to less than 1%. So our world just got flipped upside down. So we went on this while goose chase on trying to figure out what we're going to do. How do we adapt and readjust? That then changed our process. So the process that we built for direct mails are irrelevant. So what we then did was, hey, the new program that we have, someone on my team did a bunch of and back and said,"You know what, Rachael? Why don't we just move everything online?" I said," Great. Go build it. Let's test it. Let's see what's up." So now we have a landing page and it's called a meeting maker and we show our prospect what they're going to get and what they have to fill out to then get in touch with one of our reps. This entire process has changed because the physical one in the online version though the outcome is the same, the experience of it is different. So that has changed our process. But that's more of at the program level. In terms of people to people working together on how other teams can work with us, it has actually opened up so many doors for us because now that it's virtual, we now then discussed with the events team. How about we change our direct mails and adapt it online for pre and post event? In the past, we would have a pre- event, direct mails to set meetings and we call it sweet to meet you and send Aquafina gummy bears. I didn't know that Aquafina gummy bears are the top notch kind of gummy bears. I just thought, great, I love the play on words and the gift. And then we would send a post event to get a meeting and its identity with the answer is unbearable with the bear highlighted, and also the gummy bears. So we try to do that online. That process has changed too, because now it's changing the way we work with other teams. It's changing what we're going to be delivering. But it was not something that was difficult. Let me take a step back. It wasn't difficult on us, but I'm suspecting that the person who has to help us bake these processes in was not easy. And then during all of this, amidst COVID, we had a huge upheaval of project management tools. So we consolidated. We had a bunch. Any startup people here knows we had Monday, we had Trello. There was a gajillion of them. And then we consolidated all into Asana. Now I'm just waffling on, but I hope that answered your question. We have a process where it's program oriented and then there was a process change, which was tools oriented that helped us communicate with one another and partner up with one another.
Matt Bilotti: Yeah, that was great. Gave a ton of insight into how you approached it and gone about it and I'm sure people could take away a bunch from that. Cool. So I don't have any more. We're coming in towards a wrap here. Any other high level things you want to make sure that you touch on or tips or anything in the sort that you didn't get a chance to talk about so far?
Rachael Tiow: I would end on this note, and it's a summary of what we've talked about. We don't need a dedicated ABM person to do ABM. But does having somebody with ABM experience help? Most definitely. Now this depends on the stage of the business that you're in. Right? I have talked to clients where," Rachael, we've done demand gen and we have growth. They're doing very, very well. Should I hire an ABM person?" It really depends, and that's the beauty. It's the frustration because we don't have a clear cut answer, but it's also the beauty because you get to adapt and adjust it to your company. The other thing is ABM is not limited to only driving pipeline for your business. Right now at Auth0, what we are doing is leveraging 6Sense Insights or account intent information to building out programs that can move accounts from one buying stage to the next. Now, I know in the industry it's called life cycle. I don't have official marketing background, but one thing I do have is how do we make money? So if everybody's fishing in the pond where all these accounts are ready to flip into an SQO, that's the red ocean. How do we play in the blue? That's really how I think about. So that's why I make these strong argument, you don't need a person to have an ABM experience to drive ABM. What we need is somebody who's tenacious and determined enough and has a thirst for driving revenue. And if they do, they'll find their way.
Matt Bilotti: That is an awesome note to end on. Rachael, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. For those of you listening, thank you so much for joining in here. Hit the subscribe button, check out the other episodes, I think there's 80 of them at this point, with amazing experts and people that go deep on topics. Each episode is like a how do I think about X, Y, Z, with tips and tricks. And so go ahead and check those out. Thank you again for listening. I know there's so many things you could be working on listening to, watching, whatever it might be and I appreciate you spending that time here. My email's Matt@drift. com. If you got any feedback, ideas, whatever it is, feel free to drop an email. If you're a fan, would love a review on whatever review platform. I think Spotify has reviews now as well, or a five star review would be great. Written reviews go a long way as well. So thank you so much and I will catch up next episode. Bye.
Rachael Tiow: Thanks guys.
Rachael Tiow, the director of ABM and lifecycle marketing at Auth0, has spent three years building an account-based marketing team from the ground up. Now, she's ready to share what she's learned to help you think about what makes a successful ABM strategy at your organization. Whether you have an existing ABM strategy, or you're thinking about implementing one for the first time at your organization, Rachael shares tips applicable to both.
- (0:50) Rachael's career journey in tech
- (3:08) Is one-to-one ABM the only approach?
- (6:01) How to figure out which ABM approach is right for you.
- (9:07) Why Auth0 chooses a one-to-many ABM strategy
- (17:59) The four components of how Rachael thinks about ABM
- (21:47) Rachael's approach to building an ABM-focused team
- (28:16) Rachael's advice for shifting processes when markets shift
- (34:00) Do you need to hire an ABM-specific marketer?
Like this episode? Leave a review!