6sense, a revenue AI platform that seeks to revolutionize the way B2B organizations create, manage and convert pipeline to revenue, held its fifth annual Breakthrough customer conference in Frisco, Texas from Oct. 16 through Oct. 19. The event brought together more than 1,000 sales and marketing leaders to participate in three days of immersive sessions, discussions with peers and targeted meetings aimed at identifying opportunities to address go-to-market (GTM) challenge. The event’s theme was simple yet profound: “Be More.”
With the concept of being more present, open and happy laying the groundwork, 6sense’s CRO Latané Conant opened the event with, “The Antidote To More…,” which touched on the need to redefine what marketers expect from technology, lean into a new era of intelligence and get more aligned than ever before. She explained that 95% of the buyer’s journey takes place on someone else’s website, and buyers’ penchants for anonymity — aka the dark funnel — is causing organizations to throw more resources and manpower at illuminating the darkness, which often doesn’t work.
“The typical response to the growing dark funnel is more: More marketing, more campaigns, more advertisements, more BDRS — more, more, more,” said Conant. “And then we have to keep up on the sales side: ‘Let’s get more data sources, let’s train more of the sales team, let’s find more tools, let’s make more calls!’ And you throw it all at the dark funnel, and guess what? Some success happens, but then the cycle starts again — unsuccessfully.”
It’s what Latane calls “1990s marketing” — and it’s not working. Specifically:
- Only 7% of prospects visit websites;
- Only 3% fill out a form; and
- 78% of accounts predicted to be in-market are not even in an organization’s CRM.
“This ‘more, more, more’ mentality creates a poor customer and prospect experience,” said Conant. “It also impacts our employees — they’re the ultimate representation of our brand and 81% of them are burnt out. We need to break the cycle of more for our employees, for ourselves and for our prospects and customers. We need to start reimagining how we work.”
With the stage set for growth, the main topics covered at Breakthrough included:
- Inspecting and setting clear expectations for workflows and processes is important for success;
- Ensuring sales and marketing are aligned and triggering the right opportunities at the right time is critical for winning deals;
- Leveraging technology to work smarter, not harder; and
- Working as one revenue team.
1. Be More Data-Defined
Data is the lifeblood of all marketing functions, as indicated by the 71% of marketers who utilize it. However, 47% of practitioners are struggling to collect the right data on prospects due to the sheer amount of it available.
“There are many different pieces of intent data: First-party data, data from tools like 6sense and then there’s your own data,” explained Sarah Sehgal, Director of Demand Generation for digital experience platform FullStory, in an interview with DGR. “A big area for marketers is figuring out how they want to define intent and determine which area they want to look at, and then the second component is why they want to look at it and what do they do with it. Instead of getting distracted and overwhelmed by all the data, you need to focus on what your use cases are and what you’re trying to do and pull in pieces of your data from there.”
“Once we have data in our internal systems, we pass it over to our AI tools to get a holistic picture of both marketing-sourced and -influenced impact that our campaigns are having on revenue,” said Leaver. “We’re using all that intent and engagement data to get our campaigns up and running. It’s much easier to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one, so we’re taking data beyond the initial prospecting sales motion and applying it to how we expand and retain our customer base.”
Intent data doesn’t have to stop at buyer-focused insights, either. According to Julie Kornerup, Marketing Associate, Intent-Driven Marketing for sales enablement and training platform Allego, another key use of intent data revolves around creating “competitor takedown campaigns.” In her session, “Revolutionize Your Intent-Based Advertising: How To Build & Scale A Retargeting Machine,” she explained that Allego utilizes technographic data to double-down on targeting competitors’ customers with as much product-related messaging as possible.
2. Be More Technologically Inclined
Given Breakthrough’s theme of being more and doing less, technology and automation were two key focuses throughout the event. Several speakers noted the role of technology in their campaigns, with the specific purpose of automating time-consuming tasks. For revenue lifecycle management solutions provider Conga, that takes the form of orchestrating outreach sequences.
“We’ve created outreach sequences based on factors such as vertical, persona, industry and intent,” said Claire Couch, Demand Generation Marketing Leader for Conga, in an interview with DGR. “Within our outreach sequences, we've used prompts and variables to create outreach that’s 80% core content already established and 20% personalized. That’s mixed in with some automatic steps, and we’re really trying to drive prompts for outbound prospecting.”
Couch continued that in Conga’s 1:1 and 1:few efforts, target accounts are served up advertisements with their company’s name, and then are directed to Folloze pages that are co-branded with Conga, the prospect’s company and other partners. She then explained that Conga uses the 6sense platform to surround those advertisements with omnichannel strategies, such as outreach sequences and direct mail.
“It really does take the reps effort to do that and a mix of technology to complement how we're getting that prospecting out there,” continued Couch. “We’re ultimately using the intent and insights from 6sense and tailoring it by looking at keywords surfaced to work into the messaging. It’s building the muscle of how our reps prospect, and then seeing how we can provide tools that create more efficiency so they can conduct this outreach at scale.”
Interestingly, FullStory’s Sehgal noted that while martech spend has increased over the past few years, the utilization of it went down. With that in mind, “consolidation is going to be the future,” she explained, highlighting the importance of ensuring multiple teams — including marketing, sales, RevOps and customer success — have access to data, as it’s easier to justify spending with stakeholders when many teams are utilizing it.
3. Be More Aligned
Despite multiple speakers pointing to aligning internal teams as a key to success, the truth is that 46% still struggle with aligning sales and marketing. This, of course, leads to inconsistent messaging, lack of accountability, decreased customer experiences and wasted resources — all factors cumulate in creating more work and animosity.
“You need to create a culture that promotes open and honest communication, so when there are issues or questions about data, everyone’s comfortable to ask those questions,” said Sehgal. “This creates a space for sales to ask those questions and raise the flag of, ‘Hey, why does it say this is a strong fit account when it’s not?’”
That communication extends beyond existing processes and into the potential adoption of new strategies, tools or technologies. Couch noted that promoting internal alignment also helps with ensuring the entire organization is on the same page when it comes to new tech adoption.
“We’re all humans, and we can be resistant to change,” continued Couch. “When we launch something to, say, the broader sales organization, we like to start with a pilot group to get feedback early on. Oftentimes, we just assume we can roll something out, focus on enablement and then it’s done. Instead, you need to focus on ongoing training, feedback sessions and create focus groups to understand what’s going on.”
Expanding on the importance of communication was Matt Grebow, Sr. Manager of Enterprise Marketing for ServiceTitan, a home and commercial software. In his session, “Smarketing Besties: Building Well-Oiled Orchestrations Between Sales And Marketing,” he explained that it’s not about “perfect alignment” — instead, he suggested organizations find ways to share unique perspectives, work toward a common goal and coordinate outreach closely.
“Our sales and marketing teams speak at least once a week and talk about what they’re seeing in the campaigns that are running and share insights,” said Grebow. “This helps us understand that we’re all working toward the same goal, and we can share different perspectives that can only tell a story when we bring them together, which creates a lot of trust. When marketing and sales outreach is not well coordinated, it can come across as spammy and annoying.”
Grebow then suggested the following outreach tips:
- Allow marketing to take the lead when communicating with leads that need more nurturing, as it’s often not worth sales’ time;
- When an account doesn’t have a sales director but is showing high intent, marketing should incorporate a sales perspective into the conversation to start building a relationship; and
- Marketing and sales should work jointly on crafting outreach to existing accounts.
4. Be More Kind
Aside from the litany of marketing and sales advice practitioners shared to help attendees enhance their campaigns and internal communications, one of the event’s key takeaways was ensuring that work isn’t, well, work. 6sense’s Conant explained that she believes eight out of 10 workdays should be fun — and that doesn’t always take the shape of foosball and snacks at the office.
“You need to ask your teammates what their ‘fun factor’ is,” continued Conant. “It’s a great way to open a dialogue about how your co-workers are doing and growing.”
For Conga, Couch explained that the “fun factor” includes going all-in on launch events and other office activities to create positive associations with different activities.
“We did a ‘Taco Tuesday 6sense Fiesta’ to get our team fired up about adopting the platform,” said Couch. “It comes back to the human element of ensuring that people feel heard and helped. You need to create positive associations in the workplace so workers understand that it’s not just another thing they do — it’s how they can achieve success.”
Shifting away from workplace-based fun, the event also encouraged marketers to prioritize their “five to nine” post-work hours. Conant explained that employees can’t have fun at work and feel motivated if they’re not focusing on taking care of themselves personally.
“It’s hard to have a zest for work if you don’t have a zest for life,” Conant concluded. “When I think about the antidote to more, it’s about securing your own oxygen mask first. You need to be more present in your family, friendships and relationships. You can’t just do more — you must be more.”