Smart Deployment of Marketing and Sales Technology in B2B Sales

A discussion with Gino Palozzi, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet.

Personalizing the B2B sale while being mindful of new privacy laws that are coming, and how to deal with the proliferation of marketing technology and revenue technology tools. This is a transcript of a discussion with Gino Palozzi, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet.

Tim Hagen: Hi everybody. It’s Tim Hagen, and welcome to another video podcast. Today, we’re going to talk marketing with a special guest from Dun & Bradstreet. We’re going to introduce Gino Palozzi. We’re going to have a very interactive discussion and talk about some of the typical problems and solutions in the marketplace. Gino, how are you?

Gino Palozzi: Good. How are you?

Hagen: Good. Tell our audience a little bit about yourself.

Palozzi: I lead and I’m the SVP of marketing at Dun & Bradstreet. We’re focused, specifically my group, on the sales and marketing solutions that we offer that provide the data, the insights and the activation for companies to go out there and really reach the right buyer at the right time through the right channel.

Hagen: So what are some of the challenges that you’re seeing currently in the marketplace, especially with everything that’s occurred over the last 24 months?

Palozzi: Yeah, things have changed, right? They’ve changed over my 25-year career, and they’ve changed, probably in an accelerated way, over the last two years. One of the things that we’re seeing with everybody working from home through the pandemic is people are a little harder to reach, specifically in the B2B space that we play in. Not everybody is working from an office; everybody is kind of working odd hours… But what they’re really challenged by is this need and desire for people to understand who they are and who their customers are. The need to personalize is really important. There’s a desire and an appetite – and people expect it. They expect it from the B2Cs they’re working with, and there’s no difference [for B2Bs].

B2Bs are still selling to individuals, and personalization is becoming really important and difficult. One of the reasons is we continue to see challenges [is] the flipside of personalization, which is the privacy. As we see privacy starting to become more and more important and top-of-mind, to know people – to understand who they are – requires you to understand and collect data on them, and not everybody wants that. They want the option and the preferences that they expect. So privacy is kind of challenged with the need to also try to be personalized.

And then the last challenge that I think we as marketers have seen just continue to explode is just proliferation of data – data as well as the tools that we are using, right? So we’ve seen thousands of martech tools put out there, hundreds and a growing number of sales tech tools, — what we call revtech – and it’s creating some additional challenges to reduce the complexity that those tools were intended to solve for. It’s creating real problems.

Hagen: So how do you go about solving some of that? You’ve talked a lot about personalization, privacy, proliferation. How do you specifically solve that? And what are some potential stories or case studies you can share with our audience?

Palozzi: When you think about personalization, you have to recognize that you are selling not to companies. I’ve always believed in my career that you’re selling to the individual buyers and the people within those companies. So understanding who the people are that you want to engage with, and not just try to reach and spray and pray to the companies that you’re going after. My own team has a pretty robust set of capabilities leveraging our own tools. We look at really understanding the people that are having the highest propensity within those companies. So we identify the companies that have propensity, but then we say, “Who do we believe we bring a very strong value prop to?” I think that knowledge of the buyer personas, as many people call it, and then you get into knowing and tracking and working with them to see who you’re reaching. And who’s actually engaging. And even those that are not engaging, who are showing intent? So we try to really understand their behavior, both in the signals that they’re sending to us directly, as well as kind of looking out and seeing the third-party signals that we’re tracking through intent. So that helps us understand who’s in the market. And we try to also then let them go through their own journey. We don’t try to guess what that journey should be. We let them chart their own path or their own journey and engage as we go along with the people that we think are showing those signals. So that’s how we’ve been tackling it in our own house.

I think from the privacy [standpoint], obviously you need to be very cognizant of CCPA, GDPR, especially if you’re global or where you’re doing business, type of regulations. And we are very cognizant in tracking things around people’s privacy and preferences. We do that in a way so that no matter where we want to engage them, through whatever channel, that we do that in a more centralized way, which is really important and challenging to most companies. So whether we’re having our SDRs outreach, or whether we’re having people that are sending emails, they all understand the preferences that we need to respect. You can’t be tracking that, or it’s very hard to track that in five, six different channels.

[With] the proliferation, I think looking for tools that work well together. Companies don’t want these independent tools that don’t take advantage of all the tools that are already invested in. Most of the larger companies we work with have a quite an amount of investment in their tools. [You need] to be able to play nice in the sandbox and integrate and identify those partners, whether it’s our tools that integrate with those or as a marketer myself, making sure that the tools that are fundamental to our demand gen engine are going to work together with whatever tools we bring in.

Hagen: Do you feel like there are too many tools? As you know, I’ve talked to a number of people at your company and it’s interesting that making sense of all the sales tech, all the marketing tools out there, that’s got to be a challenge for corporate clients today, especially in the B2B environment because they come out every single day.

Palozzi: Yeah. Too many tools? I think there are a lot of tools that are not used to their fullest. The number is something like 60% of marketing teams have over 20 of these tools in their environment. You’d think that those tools are designed to work well together. They don’t always. But more importantly, what I think that creates is actually added work. The correlation of the more tools you have means you’re actually doing and working harder. That’s a really interesting dichotomy. You’re building out this stack that is supposed to save you time and drive better efficiencies, but in some cases it’s actually costing people their time, and time, as we all know, is the most important resource, especially as we’re working so hard in this environment.

Hagen: You’ve identified the three Ps, you’ve talked about some of the challenges with tools, what are some of the specific solutions you provide clients by name or if you happen to have the opportunity to cite a case study or a story. Because it’s really interesting when you think about what companies are going through today with the different tools and making sense of all of it. It almost can be overwhelming. Walk us through how you go about specifically working with a client, some specific products or services you provide, and how that’s gone about helping your clients.

Palozzi: I think the one that we’re kind of hitting on here is something that we just announced back in May. D&B Rev.Up ABX and ABX is account-based experiences. It’s really a solution that was not meant to be specific for ABM, but certainly to support these account-based strategies that B2Bs have. The solution, at its core, has a CDP (customer data platform), What it also is intended to do is to really understand and unify your data from multiple systems of record, whether you’re storing things in the CRM, or you’re storing things a marketing automation platform. It can have many sources of your own data, but the CDP should also be able, and the Rev.Up ABX does ingest data, and you can pull data from our third-party data to augment what you’re doing and to help you really build those audiences that are the starting point, right?

Without a good understanding of who your customers are – who your prospects are – in one unified place, it makes it very difficult to operate in an omnichannel way. Rev.Up ABX does bring that together with a CDP at its core. What it also does is allows you to syndicate that audience that you’ve identified and even done some analysis around as you’ve shown propensity or people that you want to upsell to – whatever that audience is – and syndicate it through the channels that you need to activate. What we did when we announced Rev.Up ABX was to recognize that sales and marketers think channel. So as a leader in marketing, I don’t necessarily think about capability of a product or martech. I think about how do I improve my performance in my email channel or through my sales channel or through my web engagement, and certainly through paid media, where we spend a lot of our money.

So we’ve designed that product to not just bring your data together and bring you the sophistication to target and analyze who you want to go after, but to make it modular to say, “I’m going to send those audiences through these channels.” What that allows you to do as a company is to be consistent and coordinated, and not just engaging at the right time, but knowing where other channels [or] somebody else might be engaging on another channel, right? Without that, you’re really just operating in what I call a multichannel type model. Yes, I’m engaging you, Tim, on an email, and I have my sales guys reaching out. But if you’re not coordinating where you’re engaging and what we’re learning along the way, you’re not doing a very good job with that personalization that I talked about.

So the Rev.Up ABX product allows you to start in one channel and expand if you want. We don’t want to say we’re going to do everything. You may have tools. If you want to go and focus in on, “How do I optimize my, my ad – my paid media,” then start there, But it has that same foundation that easily allows you to say, “I want to leverage that into these other channels and start leveraging the same insights and data to help me optimize my email.” That modular, step-by-step approach so you don’t have to buy the whole galactic empire to start.

The only other thing that I think is important to think about is these offerings are really meant to not necessarily replace. It’s really about Rev.Up ABX plus not Rev.Up ABX and… What I mean by that is people already have the Eloquas, the Marketos, the HubSpots and the different tools. So that’s your choice of your system of what I call engagement. Then it can send those audiences right to where you’re leveraging those tools so that it syndicates it to them and you don’t have to rip it out and replace it. We wanted to build it modular. We want it to build it open. I think we’ve had a lot of early success and feedback and demand for this. Companies came to us early on, when we were announcing and putting this together, and in many of them were already doing this. These are many of our product and capabilities that were disparate. Some of them, one in particular – a large logistics company we’ll call them in the U.S. – they had built out that CDP. They had done some things in some of these products that were doing addressable market and total addressable market work. They had been doing some of the work to kind of send to the different tools that they use. When I met with them, I was like, “Wow, you were a Rev.Up ABX customer before there was even a product out there!” They were already kind of leading the way. I was really excited to see that. It reinforced that where we were going was the right direction. Now, that company is very much involved. But we had other companies besides them. A friend of mine [who] I used to work for ends up as the CMO over at a company at Rackspace. They use this amazing tool set to really help optimize their sales channel. We’ve seen tremendous improvement in the ability to engage and convert with the sales teams, leveraging the capabilities that they built out initially with our CDP, but leveraging those connectors and those integrations into their sales engagement tools. There are a lot of great stories and everybody approaches it their own way, but we’re seeing a lot of happy customers who are then wanting to learn and do more with us.

Hagen: Cool. One of the last questions I have for you is you just mentioned the narration of a couple of different stories. There is a lot out there, and I’m going to ask you an unfair question. If you had to step outside of yourself and you were to advise a customer to get educated, not just on Dun & Bradstreet, but just to get educated, because you mentioned Marketo, my company uses HubSpot. We sometimes as customers don’t even know what’s out there to bring these things together. If you were to advise a customer what to do next to get educated, what would you suggest?

Palozzi: The one thing I try to do myself, as a marketing leader, is read a lot. I read through the different kinds of publications that are focused on the martech today type work – what are doing? I also try to engage with various analysts, not everybody has that option, and really read about some of the things that they’re doing in their work. Whether it’s a wave or a new wave, I want to understand not just what’s in market and what I know, but to your point, what are the emerging things that are happening? And what, more importantly, are the capabilities and the use cases that they’re trying to address with those things? It’s really going out there, reading the marketing pubs, reading the analysts [and] meeting with them if you can to help me get educated.

Then the third is kind of an obvious one, I try to network. I try to join these teams of other marketing leaders and communities where we had to share quite a bit, like, “What are you doing?” We all have the same challenges. Reading analysts and just good, basic, sound networking with your group of professional networks, and learning about what they’re trying and what they’re challenged by. Marketers are always willing to share. We’re not one of those groups that tries to keep everything top secret. We want to learn – learn from the mistakes and learn from the successes from each other.

Hagen: Cool. So how do people learn about Dun & Bradstreet? How did they get educated by you? What do you do to educate your prospective customers?

Palozzi: There are a number of ways. Sales and marketing teams tend to be visual learners. I don’t want to box myself in, but since I am one of them… One of the things we want to make sure we do often [is] videos. We do monthly demo days, where you can join in and see something. But more importantly, I think having the ability to capture stories of others, similar to what I meant when networking. We’re in the process of putting a video series together where we’re going to talk about a case study, but right from the person that had the challenge – from their experiences. And they need to be short. I love to read the Forrester or the Gartner stuff, but I don’t always have the time to read the five reports that I want. Sometimes, five-minute snippets of just testimonials of what others are doing tend to go a long way. We try to put some of that out there on our Web.

We also try to be a part of broader events where we are all meeting and congregating. We’re coming up on Dreamforce, where we’ll be hosting our own events. We do webinars. We try to do it in a more visually engaging way where there’s dialogue. That tends to, at least in the market we’re in, do very well. All of those types of things are certainly in process. And you can come to our site. We try to promote that. We send it to the people we talked about that we think would probably be interested in that.

We don’t only just wait for the inbound. We outbound to the targeted audiences that we think would be interested in the topics that are relevant to them. That’s the key. Then it’s not just a guess-and-send because you’re a marketer. There are a lot of things I worry about and care about, but there are certain things that are very much timely and top of my mind that my touch team and myself are researching. You can get those insights. “I intend” type data so that you really get that person at the right time and you send them the right relevant content they should be interested in.

Hagen: So send our audience somewhere. Where do they need to go to find out more about your company?

Palozzi: If you go to dnb.com, the sales and marketing solution area right at the top will give you an understanding of the broad set of things that we do. It’s not just this engagement and Rev.Up. We help you clean and enrich the data that is so important – that fuel into that demand gen engine. You’ll learn about how we help you really bring together that data in a unified way, but more importantly, ensure that it’s trusted. You’ll learn about how we help with that cleaning and enrichment, the reaching and engaging people with relevance, with things like Rev.Up or Hoovers, which is really targeting that sales audience to go out there and prospect the folks that are in market and most likely to buy from the sellers that are engaging. Those are the three core solution platforms: Rev.Up, ABX, Hoovers and our data management solution, which involves both our optimizer and our connect offerings. It’s a great place to learn. There are some great assets out there. I encourage people to take a look and see how we can help you.

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