I’ve been reviewing some key books in sales and marketing to refresh my knowledge of some of the fundamentals to building world-class “revenue engines”. I’m sharing my summaries here.
The second book I’m covering is No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls, by Latané Conant.
Latané’s book covers an area of marketing that I have long wondered about: Should you “gate” or should you not “gate” your content?
As you can probably guess from the title of the book, Latané is very much in the “no gating” camp. In fact, she argues that gating content is part of how “we treat prospects like dirt!” Marketing like this she suggests gets in the way of what the buyer is trying to get done, which is research potential solutions to their problem.
When a buyer fills in their contact information to get our white paper etc., we then annoy them with a sequence of emails and finally a string of cold calls. One of the common problems with these follow-up techniques is that they are not well-targeted and therefore not valuable to the buyer. Often this lack of targeting is because we don’t understand the prospect and their situation well enough.
Latané lays out a different approach to generating opportunities. This approach is account-centric rather than contact-centric. By being account-centric it’s possible to remove the need to gate content. This is because companies can be tracked by their IP address, so even if no form is filled in, you can still know that account XYZ visited your website etc.
Another key concept in the book is to focus your marketing efforts on accounts that are “in-market”, meaning that they are looking for a solution to a problem that you solve. One of the main clues that an account is in-market is that someone in that account is searching for keywords that relate to the problems that you solve.
Latané points out that targeting accounts not yet “in-market” is generally a waste of time and money as those accounts will be hard to convince to take action. Targeting accounts that are farther along the buying process than “in-market” will likely mean a lot of competition, as the buyers will have already contacted several firms, or worst-case, will mean you are too late to be considered.
Latané presents this five-part framework for marketing without forms, spam and cold calls:
1. Select the best accounts: Select accounts based on data not opinion. This means using intent data from our own website (or other touch points, such as conversations with sales, event attendance etc.) or from intent data providers that supply information on accounts’ interactions with other relevant websites across the internet.
2. Know about them: Know more about these accounts than just their basic demographics. Latané suggests knowing items such as their tech stack, who is on the buying committee, what they are researching and where they are in their buying journey.
3. Engage the right way: Based on where the account is its buying journey, we need to provide relevant information so that we are being helpful and valuable. Latané points out that this may necessitate the use of AI to model how companies from our past behaved in order to understand how our future prospects may behave.
4. Collaborate with sales: All approaches and follow-ups to accounts need to be a coordinated effort between sales and marketing. Common sense, but of course poorly executed by many (many) companies.
5. Track real stuff: We need to track metrics that matter. Latané is very much against using the quantity of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) as a metric. She suggests tracking “meaningful” metrics such as accounts engaged, new personas engaged, opportunity rate and account win rates.
In the book, Latané suggests you need a pretty sophisticated tech stack to achieve some of the steps above. It’s rather implicit in the book that a tool like 6Sense can help you do this (Latané is the CMO for 6Sense). A question in my mind is whether it’s possible to achieve some of the results laid out in the book using “baby steps” and without such a big tech investment. More investigation and testing needed to answer that…