Latane Contant is the CMO at 6sense and author of No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls. Her book, which dropped in July 2020, offers a fresh take on how to bring the customer back to the forefront of marketing.
First Step: Treat customers and prospects like humans.
Did you laugh? Scoff? It may seem too simple, or better yet, obvious. The truth is that too many companies are putting more of an emphasis on MQLs or KPIs rather than delivering personalized content at the right time.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
When was the last time you researched a solution or service for your company? Once you found an interesting white paper or video, were you met with a form? I bet the answer is yes. And I bet you either diverted away from the content or provided false information to bypass the gated information. That way, you could prevent the inevitable cold call or a swarm of emails that are sure to follow.
In No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls Contant helps readers understand the problem with this everyday nightmare. She explains how forms, spam, and cold calls end with what she coins the Dark Funnel™.
Her book then dives into how businesses can right the ship through account-based-marketing (ABM) or, in simpler terms, personalized outreach. The approach requires a fairly robust tech stack and a heavy investment in those tools. If companies have the means to invest in the technology, the results of Contant’s approach is entirely worth the effort.
Contant’s (and 6sense’s) Dark Funnel™
As marketing and sales have settled into a spray and pray method of prospecting, buyers have moved into what Contant calls the Dark Funnel™. According to No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls, buyers now remain anonymous for 70% of the purchase journey.
The less time a buyer spends with a brand’s content, the less control the brand has over the buying journey. There are significant repercussions from this:
- Customers may be getting the wrong information - think outdated content or competitor misinformation.
- Insufficient data for marketers - lack of engagement on relevant content, low ROI on campaigns, and lack of insight on where buyers are in their journey.
- Wasted time for sales - too much time spent spinning their wheels on leads out of the market and less time spent engaging warm opportunities.
Contant’s solution to the Dark Funnel™ trap is personalized outreach. She wants marketers to invest in a tech stack that allows them to know who is in the market, who the stakeholders are, and what phase of the journey they’re in. She recommends focusing both sales and marketing efforts on accounts in the Consideration/Decision phase with this information.
Her approach involves omnichannel messaging that speaks to the buyers’ primary needs and the buying stage. Let’s say a prospect finds their way to the 6sense website and is both (1) interested in ABM and (2) in the Consideration stage of their journey. That prospect will be routed to a microsite that houses content on AMB and has CTAs focused on booking a demo.
Since the prospect has reached a buying stage that historically engages with the 6sense sales reps, the account will move into a BDR’s pipeline to begin outreach. That BDR will know who to reach out to at the account and specific topics to bring up to ensure their message is relevant.
The title of the book does not imply that marketing will never send another email to a prospect or that sales will never call someone without explicit permission. Instead, Contant wants sales and marketing outreach to provide value to the person on the receiving end.
Heads Up, It’s Going to Cost $$$
This highly personalized approach requires a robust tech stack. Thankfully the book provides a template for the types of software necessary to bring Contant’s vision to life. If you haven’t guessed yet, 6sense’s software, or a tool like it, is the crucial piece for Contant’s strategy to work.
The full list of recommended tools includes:
- Customer Data Platform
- Intent Data
- Account Identification
- AI-Driven Predictions
- 3rd Party Data
- Data Segmentation
- Display Advertising
- Sales Advertising
For companies with a limited budget, it begs the question, how can they bring the customer to the forefront of marketing without investing in each of these tools? This topic wasn’t covered in the book but is one I hope Contant explores in the future.
For companies with the budget to spend, the book not only highlights which tools are necessary and why but how to lead the charge of such a revolutionary project.
Imagine the Possibilities
Contant’s methodology is one that has the opportunity to turn the entire B2B purchasing process upside down. Buyers could come out from underneath their rocks, step out of the Dark Funnel™ and make their way back to doing research directly with a company.
For 6sense, their customers and prospective customers appreciated Contant’s approach. Metrics from across the marketing and sales organizations are up:
- After integrating account-based insights into their chatbot, there was a 118% increase in conversations.
- BDRs are consistently hitting goals even after increasing their quota by 50%.
- Despite COVID, 6sense’s commercial team ended Q2’20 at 125%.
Contant has found a way to help guide customers and prospective customers back into the light, as she so eloquently puts it. As they enter the light, they feel comfortable engaging and speaking with the brand, either through content or speaking with a sales rep. With numbers like 6sense has reported, it’s clear data-rich, personalized ABM is a winning strategy.
Put Your Company to the Test
How does a company know if Contant’s ideas are right for them? It starts with testing your buyer’s journey through the lens of your customer.
Start with a product or service in mind that your company offers. Now pretend you have very little information on it. Where do you go to learn more? Is it easy for you to locate relevant and helpful information?
Make a note each time you hit a form. Even better, notate what information you lost at that point of the journey. Better yet, what would the cost be if the buyer stopped researching your company altogether at that very moment. Compare that to the gain of getting yet another MQL that SDRs have to follow up with. Was it worth it?
If you start to notice the experience is less than buyers deserve or that you leave the exercise with minimal information on your product/service, it might be time to pick up a copy of Contant’s book.