MarTech Interview with Derek Slayton, CMO, Terminus

Derek Slayton

“The movement to metrics that is less about lead volume can be challenging for others who don’t live in this space every day.”

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Tell us about your journey into ABM?

It seems like I’ve been running, or trying to run, Account-Based things in marketing for decades. Probably because my first few gigs running marketing were for software companies that had solutions purpose-built for larger, more sophisticated customers. But in the early 2000s, the data and tech in marketing wasn’t really satisfying what we needed to do it right.

I just always felt like we were too focused on volume in what was being asked of marketing — and how Sales and Marketing were communicating. So I was a believer early-on. But when I married those experiences with my stints in data-centric companies and working with sales and marketing teams on how to structure and leverage data systematically, I really was hooked.

How has the ABM industry evolved over the past decade?

Is “a lot” an acceptable answer here? In all honesty, I think the principles have remained fairly consistent, but the movement has just become significantly more informed on what marketing teams need to have access to in order to do this right. And, we have learned our lessons on how to compartmentalize what is, and is not, in scope. The tools and the skill-sets are maturing, and the expectations are more managed than in some of the early days.

What is the current state of ABM? How does Terminus deliver on its ROI promise?

I really believe this “account-based thing” is starting to become more mainstream. Initially, it was a bit of buzz (and overblown), then it fractured off into an “I’m going to run this over here” kind of effort. Now we are starting to understand that account-based can mean different things in different areas of my business, but I want to start bringing it into the core of what marketing is doing broadly in the company. And the ability to measure and scale is critical to this happening.

We focus a huge amount of our investment in these areas. How can our solution help marketers identify the best cohorts of customers to target? How can we provide scale so that marketing teams can effectively run engagement-focused activities around those accounts and the decision-makers they are targeting? How can we make it easy for them to measure where they have traction — and understand the drivers so they can dial-up what’s working and dial-down what isn’t? In our experience with customers, that’s what drives ROI — scale and measurement.

Which geographies are you targeting (DACH, EMEA, APAC etc.) to propagate your product range in the next five years?

We’re primarily focused in North America currently, but Europe is an important market looking forward for us. A lot of the way companies operate there is already oriented in account-based principles so the fit is strong.

In which industry vertical (enterprise, start-ups, SMBs etc.) does your product find the most acceptance? Why do you think this is so?

For us, growth is the operative word. We help our customer drive quality growth. So companies leaning into sales and marketing are key. But they also need to have a lifetime value lens on their customer relationships. That really makes a difference. Fortunately, in today’s subscription economy, this is more the norm in B2B. We definitely focus a large portion of our efforts in mid-market and small enterprise companies as they typically fit our solution best.

How much have the Marketing and Advertising operations changed since the arrival of Automation? How do you leverage these tools at Terminus?

More in-house stuff is happening. Whereas, I used to go to agencies to run a large portion of my activities, this was many years ago of course. Now we have tech-savvy operatives who are digging into this stuff daily and being a lot more nimble in what gets put in the market.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies does Terminus use at the moment? Personally, which is your favorite Marketing Automation tool?

We partner with most of them so I’m not going to pick favorites!

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Technology for 2018-2020?

Well. We sell one, so I’m certainly biased. But I wouldn’t have joined the team here at Terminus if I didn’t believe that account-centric is the way B2B marketing gets run over the next 2-4 years. It’s just a matter of how do we help practitioners make this adjustment.

What advice do you have for B2B marketers who wish to leverage ABM to drive ROMI?

Focus on how you measure the outcomes. Be incredibly committed to helping the organizations understand what the new way of measure looks like. The movement to metrics that is less about lead volume can be challenging for others who don’t live in this space every day.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

Do I have a choice? I think it’s great. In marketing we are always looking for efficiency/scale i.e. how can I get better results in a non-linear investment curve? It’s actually the key role of marketing I believe. The important thing is to automate/use Machine Learning where you can, but have the expertise to know what to do with it to make it serve the business strategy and outcome of your desire.

One word that best describes how you work?

Scattered. Is that a good thing? Probably not. But I think marketers are forced to figure out how to balance a lot of spinning plates. I actually think it’s important to give yourself time to dive in deep and work with folks on the team and across the organization. Marketing can help in very strategic ways across functional boundaries. Collaborative. Let’s go with that. I love spending time figuring out how we can better attack and solve a problem.

What are you currently reading?

“This is Marketing” — the new Seth Godin book. It really connects with a lot of what we are doing at Terminus.

“The Song of Achilles” — A fun retelling of the story of the best of all the Greeks.

“Born to Run” — the Springsteen biography. Incredibly honest self portrait of an amazing artist.

I guess I even read scattered.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Mark Templeton (former CEO at Citrix, now running DigitalOcean) sat me down years ago and talked to me about the difference between being a “connect-the-dots” person and a “paint-by-numbers” person. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but understanding how you’re wired allows you to lean-in to who you really are and how you make decisions.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

I’d love to hear how Josh Mueller at D&B would answer these. He’s driving a ton of cool things with a great team of marketers at a company many think of way too narrowly.

Thank you, Derek! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Derek Slayton is a B2B marketer and a product guy with over 20 years of experience in technology sales and marketing. As CMO his role is to align the company’s product roadmap with its go-to-market engine and create relationships with other B2B marketers that want to improve their revenue engines through better, more targeted, and continuously managed marketing data.

Terminus Logo

Founded in 2014, Terminus is the leader of the account-based movement. The company delivers an account-based marketing (ABM) command center that enables B2B marketers to identify and prioritize target accounts, engage them across multiple channels, provide actionable insights to sales, and measure the success of their account-based programs. Enterprise and growth-stage companies such as Salesforce, NetSuite, WP Engine, and Pendo use Terminus as a foundational platform for ABM.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.