The turn of the year is a time when we often see predictions in the B2B martech space with headlines such as “Five B2B Marketing Trends to Watch.” Rather than create another post with a laundry list of wishful thinking, we wanted to pin our colors to the mast and make just one prediction.
So what is this one prediction?
In 2020, ambitious B2B organizations will realize there is a missing third revenue platform.
Let me explain what this prediction means, why we’re making it, and what’s necessary for it to become true.
Today, every B2B organization realizes that they need two revenue platforms: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation (MA). They need a CRM for their sales team to manage opportunities, deals, accounts, and pipeline. They need an MA platform for their marketing team to manage campaigns, programs, leads and engagement.
These platform categories are established. They are budgeted for. It’s not a question of whether you need a CRM or MA platform. It’s merely a question of which one is best for your business. Is Salesforce Sales Cloud, Hubspot CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle CRM, Copper, or Zoho the right CRM choice? And is Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce Pardot, Eloqua, or Act-On the right Marketing Automation choice?
There was a time when we questioned Marketing Automation platforms
But it wasn’t always this way. I was fortunate enough to be part of the Marketo leadership team that helped build the Marketing Automation category. I remember when we would encounter quizzical looks from prospective customers who wondered: “Why would I need a second platform? I already have a CRM with all my leads.”
We would have to articulate why the needs of marketing were different from sales — and thus the necessary platforms had to be different too. But it wasn’t immediately obvious to everyone, although now no one questions whether an MA platform is needed for a B2B business looking to grow.
But since the establishment of Marketing Automation as a category, the world has changed beyond all recognition for B2B businesses. The buyers inside the accounts that matter to a B2B business now operate very differently. These buyers are more informed about potential solutions than ever before. These buyers have the ability to collect far more data about their possible options. These buyers have more control of when and how they engage with potential vendors. These buyers have far more potential vendors than ever before to choose among. These buyers operate as a committee with 5-10 people typically involved in a purchase decision. And the consequence of all these behavior changes? The digital “exhaust” of these buyers is more data rich than ever before.
CRM and MA platforms were built for a world before these exponential changes. Thus, with only a tech stack of CRM and MA, modern revenue teams are largely blind to much of the current B2B buyer behavior.
That’s why we believe there is a missing third revenue platform.
Why a third revenue platform will become essential
So what does this third revenue platform do that isn’t already handled by the CRM and MA stack? How does it drive growth and revenue attainment for marketing teams with revenue accountability?
To answer this question, we need to define the three related concepts of fit, engagement and intent:
- Fit is a measure of how well an account matches your ideal customer profile. Not every company will be the right fit for your solution. Firmographic and technographic factors such as geography, industry, revenue, annual growth rate, number of employees, and existing technologies will play an important role in filtering down the accounts that are a fit for your business.
- Engagement is a measure of which accounts are engaging with your business through activities such as email opens, digital advertising views, website visits, webinar registrations, physical events attendance, blog post reads, and online product demos. Not all activity is equal (a product demo is probably a stronger signal than a blog visit). However, aggregating activity from all the people who are interacting with your company at the account level is critical so that your sales team can respond rapidly when engagement is spiking. Speed matters in this digital, always-on world.
- Intent is a measure of which accounts are engaging with your solution area but are not (yet) engaging with your business. Intent is measured through buyers consuming business content relevant to a solution area or topic. B2B buyers often consume content from 10-15 sources, and 80%+ of them are influenced by this content in their purchase decision. Imagine a buyer reading G2 reviews of your competitors but not your reviews. This is intent: accounts showing strong interest through their web behavior in your solution area but not your solution. These are the accounts that are traditionally invisible to you.
So the missing third revenue platform brings all three of these concepts together. With fit, engagement, and intent tied together in one platform, ambitious marketing teams can now answer these critical business questions:
- Which accounts are a fit for my business? (The accounts in the blue rectangle)
- Which accounts that are a fit for my business are engaging with us? (The accounts in the blue section of the Engagement oval).
- Which accounts that are a fit for my business are demonstrating intent for our solution area? (The accounts in the blue section of the Intent oval).
With this account intelligence available to a marketing team, they can then confidently take actions that will drive business impact. For example, teams can now reallocate resources being used to engage non-fit accounts (the white section of the Engagement oval) towards accounts that demonstrate both fit and intent (blue section of the Intent oval) so that only those accounts engage with your business (blue section of the Engagement oval).
The missing third revenue platform drives business impact by providing account intelligence that helps you focus resources on accounts that are a fit, give you visibility into “hidden” accounts showing intent, and execute marketing programs to move those accounts to engagement.
But can’t Marketing Automation platforms do this today? Not really. They were designed and built to measure engagement, and they do that well. But they don’t tie together fit and intent, so marketers are blind and spending valuable marketing budget on accounts that will never buy from them.
What a third revenue platform needs to succeed
So what is necessary to make this missing third revenue platform a reality? At RollWorks, we’ve been building an account-based platform to fill this void. We believe this missing third revenue platform must have two essential foundational components:
- Account Data Foundation. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” An account-based platform is only as good as the account data powering that platform. That’s why we’ve developed an account data foundation driven by an open data strategy that has three core attributes. First, our account data foundation combines first-party and third-party data. Second, our account data foundation ingests multiple third-party data providers and doesn’t rely on a single source. Third, our account data foundation uses the level of agreement and disagreement to score the confidence of the buyer profile and the account with which it is associated. This account data foundation has to be able to operate at scale covering hundreds of millions of buyers and tens of millions of accounts.
- Extensible Machine Learning. With data sets this large and buying behavior so dynamic, old-technology approaches such as “rules-based” hard-coded approaches simply do not work. You need an extensible machine learning capability to handle these large, dynamic, multi-dimensional data sets. The RollWorks Account-Based Platform is powered by a machine learning infrastructure that powers over 70 billion predictions a day. This extensible machine learning capability now helps companies with as few as 200 closed-won accounts create fit-based models powered by 20,000 attributes.
What do you think? Do you think the market is demanding a third revenue platform?
Interested in how the data-backed, machine learning power of account-based tech can transform your business in 2020? Check out the Account-Based Guide to RollWorks.
About the AuthorMore Content by Robin Bordoli