TOPO’s 2020 Virtual Summit Key Takeaways

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Several members from Insight Onsite’s Marketing Center of Excellence attended TOPOs Virtual Summit, aptly named Sales and Marketing: What to Do Now. While we can all attest that “Zoom fatigue” is real, we gleaned some new, practical and actionable insights (in other words –  keep reading – it’s worth it). 

Insights From Barrie Markowitz  

Since I spend the majority of my time working with portfolio companies in our Digital Marketing Hub program, I was seeking new, non-obvious, practical Account Based advice from the sessions I attended:

  1. The COVID-19 Pandemic: The New Framework for Revenue Growth
  2. Doubling Down on Account Based in a Digital Environment.  

Here are 3 insights I found especially useful.

  1. Provide “Extreme Value” to prospects and existing customers. Executing on this idea was easier for some portfolio companies than others and those that acted quickly have seen strong success.   It’s so true that the greatest innovations happen during times of extreme constraint.  We are now seeing portfolio companies reprioritize resources to deliver extreme value in a scalable way (e.g. free trial offer). For example, many Enterprise CTOs, CIOs and CISOs are struggling to accelerate digital transformation.  What can your company do to offer “Extreme Value” to your Target Account Buyers and Key Influencers that compel them to want to talk to you.  Hint: No one needs another demo offer – give them insights/info/product that adds value now.
  2. Overall, I have found the TOPO frameworks very helpful to use with ABX programs.  Eric Wittlake provided a great one for digital marketing plans during and post COVID-19. Here are the steps:
    • Create ABX marketing plans (including testing) and determine budget allocation vs "always-on" air cover digital. Don’t stop your “always on” digital campaigns – they are needed for continued awareness building.
    • Within ABX, have plans for:
      • Planned Target Account lists (which should be sub-divided into 3 buckets, Strong, Moderate and Hold done in conjunction with your Sales team). Determine tactics and allocation between Strong and Moderate.
      • Triggered accounts (from intent data). Test new tactics – especially digital ones.
  3. High touch direct mail and digital gifting continues to be impactful for reaching key personas, but there are MUST KNOW details to executing well. 
    • For mail, use either a fulfillment vendor that has processes for protecting or destroying home address information or make sure you have a process for doing it and are disclosing one time use only.  Be careful not to store personal address information in your CRM (i.e., you don’t want to cause an unintended negative impact to your brand by inadvertently sending info to people’s homes).  
    • Send e-gifts that are relevant for the here and now (e.g., virtual workout offers, donation to COVID-19 causes).  

Insights From Meg Fitzgerald

There is no “new normal” because the COVID-19 landscape is changing by the day. With this ever-evolving environment, coined the "next normal", comes the need to continually refresh your messaging and how (tactics) you’re driving engagement across the revenue lifecycle. All customer-touching roles are extracting critical insights by the minute for properly informing your messaging. But, how do you operationalize this data?

The Marketing COE has been doing a lot of thinking in quarantine around the concept of creating intimacy without the ability to meet face-to-face. We see companies struggle when they assume they know best and drive messaging blindly without engaging in active buyer listening. Unsubscribe rates are sky-high right now, which is why I feel fortunate I attended two sessions:

  • Evolving Buyer Messaging and Insights to Provide Extreme Value
  • A Revenue Leader’s Perspective: Actions to Make The Most of 2020

See below for key takeaways from the sessions I attended:

  1. Leverage Slack or Microsoft Teams to set up a newsroom for the collection of real-time buyer insights. Make this available to the entire organization. Assign one dedicated buyer insights ops manager to maintain structure and hygiene for easy analysis and dissemination purposes.
  2. Re-evaluate your target buyers (hint: they may be different now) and update existing persona templates. There is a new role in many organizations (TOPO has named this person “the deputy”). This persona has been given a top-down mandate to address strategic change throughout the organization. Instead of relying on the VP of Marketing as your decision maker, for example, it may very well now be the CFO or CIO. Bottom line: This new person is how deals will happen. Know your “deputy”. In addition to identifying the deputy, ensure you are updating your existent persona (even if you just did an update in February, they are not stale). Restructure your persona templates to incorporate 1 or 2 mission-critical priorities the buyer cares about more than anything else right now. From there, show sellers how to offer compassion (we get it, it’s really difficult to drive pipe with only digital channels), share buyer peer insights (this is what we’ve seen other VPs of Customer Success do), and collaborate (would you like to jump on a Zoom to discuss strategy an how we could help?). 
  3. Create sincere offers that provide business-critical value. Re-humanize your offers to ensure you’re extending product experiences that align with priorities the deputy and other key buyers are actively dealing with. Be thoughtful and sincere. 
  4. Focus on engagement instead of ruthlessly driving pipe. It’s easy to focus solely on the numbers in our competitive environment. Try to take a step back and instead of making it all about driving pipe, drive meaningful engagement with prospects and customers in the form of Zoom meetings. 
  5. Turn your C-suite into a selling asset. Leverage your senior leadership to drive human engagement, especially with the new deputy persona. Chances are this person exists at your own company too. 
  6. Double down on the double funnel and build pods. Many companies are seeing COVID-19 act like a gasoline for their account based motion. Don’t forget about your MQL-based funnel, but bottom line is that now is your time to double down on account based. Separate the noise on your target account list and form cross-functional pods (Marketing, CSM, SDR, AE, and PS) and meet regularly to share insights on your most strategic accounts. 
  7. Protect your team and manage your metrics. We are all on meeting overload; both internally and externally. Consider making Fridays no meeting zones to ensure your employees are able to get their work done (and achieve their targets). Consider incorporating new metrics (e.g., meetings/human touchpoints) into your regular weekly dashboards. 

Insights From Whit Rothe 

Many of the questions we get from marketing leaders across the portfolio are around demand generation tactics and the Martech stack. I was curious to better understand the trends out there in the greater B2B software ecosystem, so I attended two sessions:

  • Demand Generation: The Go-to-Market Prescription for Continuing Success
  • Re-tooling the Tech Stack to Address Mission-Critical Priorities 

I provided a few key callouts below, but the primary takeaway is that demand generation needs to be an organization wide focus as hitting targets will become increasingly difficult and will impact the organizations’ ability to create additional cash flow

  1. Buyer prioritization has shifted to mission critical items only to ensure organization continuity. You have to meet your buyers in their mind set and think about positioning your product for that short list. To echo Barrie’s observation above, only by offering extreme value to your buyers, will you break through the noise.
  2. Campaigns have to be fully integrated and in lock step, and that includes sales enablement. Marketing messaging is under increased scrutiny, and a lack of coordination will be noticed by your buyers, and even worse, called out. If your last mile sales messaging isn’t aligned with the shifts in your top of funnel and mid funnel content, expect declines in conversion rates.  
  3. Organizations need to operationalize an account-based demand gen since Marketing can no longer afford to focus on prospects that won’t convert. Understanding the dynamics of your target market and prospect list is crucial, and Marketing needs visibility into market signals through data sources such as intent data. TOPO sees ABX platform components as winners in this environment.
  4. GTM has shifted to 100% inside sales and reps are already having trouble getting meetings. Investments in sales enablement technology are now key to align departments, especially since everybody is now working remote. 
  5.  As far as Demand Gen tactics, everyone is shifting their budgets away from tradeshows and events but mainly trying to fill the void with webinars, virtual events and e-gifting. Digital ad spending is down across the board, so now is a good time to test out digital for brand awareness channels. The early data is that direct mail can still work to buyers at home, so worth exploring vendors that can help facilitate deliveries to top accounts.
  6. Conduct weekly cross-functional Demand Generation meetings: Demand Gen has always impacted the entire organization, but now the market is changing every day. Tactical timelines are days, not months, and data is your friend.

If you aren’t quite Zoom fatigued and are interested in watching, here is the link to the session recordings and the presentations from the summit. As always, we encourage you to email us at MarketingOnCall@insightpartners.com to let us know what you have tested, what’s working, and even what isn’t.

  • Meg Fitzgerald

    Meg Fitzgerald, Vice President, Marketing COE

    Meg Fitzgerald is a Vice President on the Insight Onsite Team. She partners closely with portfolio company executives to accelerate growth and capture value, specifically through marketing and channel sales strategies. Meg also works closely with the investment team to drive operational due diligence. She specializes in lean user acquisition…
  • Barrie Markowitz, Executive Vice President, Marketing COE

    Barrie Markowitz joined Insight in 2019 as Executive Vice President on the Insight Onsite team. Barrie works with portfolio companies on accelerating growth through marketing performance and talent management. Prior to Insight, Barrie founded bmark & others, a marketing consultancy specializing in high growth, recurring revenue businesses. Prior…
  • Whitney Rothe, Director, Marketing COE

    Whit joined Insight in July 2019 as a Director, Marketing COE. He partners with Insight’s portfolio companies to build, analyze, and scale demand generation marketing during their different stages of growth. He also supports investment due diligence and advises on martech best practices. Prior to joining Insight, Whit led marketing programs for…