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New Demandbase CEO Discusses Pivot From ABM Evangelism To Category Definers

Featured New Demandbase CEO Discusses Pivot From ABM Evangelism To Category Definers

While ABM has been widely adopted within B2B marketing and its awareness is higher than ever, new research from Demandbase and Demand Metric has revealed that ABM tech stacks are still in the “immature” stages. Marketers are having a tough time choosing the right technologies, especially with the explosion of ABM solutions hitting the market. This, in turn, has given vendors the opportunity to position themselves as educators and thought leaders in the space to help practitioners accomplish goals.

Demandbase recently promoted CRO Gabe Rogol as its new CEO at a time when ABM has become a foundational aspect of B2B strategy, leading to a large growth in competition and confusion in the ABM tech landscape.

I had a chance to sit down with Rogol to discuss how he has seen Demandbase grow and evolve over the last several years. He shared insights into what he plans to do at the helm of the company to further innovate the brand’s products and services.

Demand Gen Report: What's your opinion on the current state of ABM in the marketplace?

Gabe Rogol: ABM has moved so far so quickly. Yet, I'm certain that a lot of the promise is yet to be realized. This is because the transition to account-based marketing is a big one. You could certainly inch your way into it, which is what we encourage people to do. But what I've seen is that we've gone from a fairly straightforward approach to B2B marketing, which is you drive leads, you get them into nurture tracks and you hand those over to sales. That has been completely blown up.

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What's happening now is that people are researching digitally. There's a lot of data about what's happening across the people in the accounts, and that must turn into insight and action for the sales team. It's not about handing over a lead anymore. That shift is dramatic. It requires a new skill set. And given our heritage and our investment in the category, that's where we really see ourselves differentiated. Not only do we have the technology that enables that, but we have a lot of the expertise to be associated with so that B2B marketers can continue to move further into the future of ABM and B2B marketing, generally.

DGR: What is your recommended approach to promoting change within an organization looking to adopt or refine their ABM strategies?

Rogol: We know that the promise of ABM has absolutely been adopted, but there have been challenges because it involves change. I think that change starts with the fundamental alignment of sales and marketing. We try to break it down into a few simple, powerful steps. This includes:

  • Identifying the accounts that are important to you. And that's an important first step because this must be mutual between sales and marketing;
  • Attracting those accounts through digital technologies and actions and advertising, engaging those accounts with the right content; and
  • Enabling the salespeople to react to marketing programs through delivering insights.

We try to break it down into steps to get people started, and then we enable more sophistication through certifications and playbooks. You can get started with simple, powerful steps, it just requires that sales and marketing alignment.

DGR: What is your perspective of Demandbase's growth since you joined the company in 2012?

Rogol: It has definitely been an exciting run. My first role was to help launch our ad product. At that time, it was obvious to me — having a long background in publishing — that this idea of focusing on accounts was really powerful because I had heard it from a lot of very large software companies. That proposition was exactly what Chris [Golec] had landed on and developed the technology to do it.

The first couple years that I was here, it was very evangelical. The awareness wasn't super high and ABM as a term hadn't really solidified. In fact, we were calling some of our ideas "company-targeted advertising" and those sorts of things. But we really did a good job of working with early adopters — like Nick Panayi at CSC and Megan Eisenberg, who was with DocuSign at the time — that really understood the power of focusing on accounts and aligning sales. Through that drumbeat and being evangelical, I think it really shifted in 2015 and ABM emerged as a category and that we were the leader of the category. That was an exciting period when ABM was solidified. Then marketers started to understand it and a lot of competition came in. There were a lot of fast followers and a lot of confusion.

We went through a period of moving from evangelical to being much more competitive with point solutions. That made us a lot stronger ultimately, leading to the release of our platform and a much bigger vision of what ABM could be. That, at a high level, is kind of what I've seen over the last seven years: a great, powerful approach to improving B2B marketing. Being extremely evangelical in the marketplace, being ahead of the time and the market kind of catching up, a lot of competitors coming and us establishing an even bigger vision.

DGR: What should people expect from Demandbase with you at the helm?

Rogol: I believe the community should expect a bold product vision that continues the journey through the quick evolution of B2B marketing, where we're going to be able to take insights in, turn them into action and enable them to make more of an impact on revenue and align with sales more closely. We're going to focus on [our client’s] success and the challenges that they have on a day-to-day basis. We’re going to go out of our way to make them successful. They're going to have a partner here that solves the same challenges that they have and has the same love for B2B marketing that they do.