Last week more than 1500 sales and marketing professionals made the trek down to Pier 27 in San Francisco Bay to take part in one of the best educational conferences centered around all things account-based. I say “all things account-based” because there was a little bit for everyone at this show, with sessions catering to marketing, sales development, sales, operations, and there was even a track for executives this year. This marks the third year of the Topo Summit and it feels like the show has really hit its stride and found its identity.
The show was opened by TOPO’s CEO, Scott Alboro, proudly proclaiming that ABM has come out of the hype cycle and is now just “B2B Marketing.” B2B marketers have definitely accepted the fact that taking an account-centric approach to their marketing is the right thing to be doing and that “spray and pray” tactics no longer work, so in this regard, he is definitely right. I think there is still a long way to go in terms of getting most B2B marketers to understand and execute the right tactics to support it. And that is why this event is so valuable! TOPO has a mantra of “specificity wins” and you could see the spirit of this mantra in just about every session that took place. The content has moved way past the ideas behind why we should all be going to market in an account-based way and transitioned to a series of success stories outlining how companies have done it successfully. The other key concepts were:
My Favorite Sessions
Jennifer Pockell Dimas from Plex was one of my favorite sessions of the entire show because it was an all-out assault on the notion that you can only do ABM to a small number of companies. In her ABM strategy, she targets 30,000 accounts. She stressed the value of account selection, a process she referred to as, “An executive-level effort including strategy, sales, marketing and product organizations.” This list of accounts, as well as MQL criteria and conversions to pipeline, is reviewed frequently and changes are made when appropriate. She also noted that this process resulted in 26 percent increase in revenue and sourced 70 percent of Plex’s pipeline.
Kevin Dorsey offered a fresh take on scripting for SDRs. As someone who is vehemently opposed to scripts for SDRs, I sat in on Kevin’s session expecting to shake my head “no” the entire time. To my surprise, I was shaking my head “yes” far more than I expected. Kevin stressed the fact that having a script gives everyone in your org the structure they need to deliver a strong talk track to prospects over the phone. To consistently deliver a great message, SDRs should focus on the tone of their messaging, not the exact words, which I could not agree with more! Kevin is also an incredible presenter and really had the crowd reacting strongly to his presentation. Great content, great performance.
Kelvin Gee’s session was easily one of the most buzzed about sessions during TOPO this year. Why? I believe up until now, most B2B professionals believed that ABM was a practice reserved for small to mid-sized businesses. I’ve been guilty of this as well for a few reasons. First, after working for an enterprise company, my thought was that bureaucracy at large companies would make ABM impossible since it requires buy-in from all members of a GTM team. In larger companies (like the world’s largest software company) these teams can be so divided they barely know each other by name. Second, I always thought ABM was the way for smaller companies to disrupt their enterprise-sized competitors. Well, this certainly isn’t the case for Oracle, because OMG, they’re running one of the most sophisticated ABM processes I’ve ever seen. Kelvin and his team utilize a process that involves leveraging Fit+Intent+Engagement data to determine the best accounts to target for their ABM programs.
I’m looking forward to next year’s TOPO summit. What are some of the things you’d like to see next year?