Hi Etai. Welcome back to MarTech Series. Can you tell us about your most memorable moments in MarTech from 2011-2019?
Professionally, the most amazing thing that happened to me during that time was Co-founding Folloze in 2013 and building it into an innovative and successful company. In addition to creating an important product that solves a very real problem for B2B marketers, we also focused on building a company grounded in transparency, where open communication and helping each other were just a standard rather than something that had to be mandated and to stay true to those values as the organization grows and matures.
It hasn’t been easy, but I am proud to say that these grounding principles are still very much part of who we are. They help guide how we look at the market and how we treat our customers. It may sound cliché, but we really do see each other and our customers like family and a community. In fact, when our customers provide feedback, we consistently hear how great it is to work with our people as often as about how much our product has helped their company to be successful. And that, to me, is truly amazing.
How much has the B2B Marketing landscape evolved since you first started Folloze?
The landscape has evolved tremendously, all the way down to the fundamentals, as there has been a clear shift away from traditional, lead-centric marketing KPIs, to a revenue marketing mentality where Marketing is expected to directly – not just indirectly – impact the company’s revenue. This has led to new strategies for targeting and engaging customers, best illustrated by the breakthrough of ABM, which has also been fueled by the rapidly expanding quantity and depth of customer data available both internally as well as from third parties. And these new KPIs, strategies, and data, coupled with new AI-enabled technologies, have given rise to the emergence of modern digital experiences for B2B customers, replacing older static web pages.
For example, back in 2013, automated processes did little to truly personalize for the end customer, and marketers were more concerned with quantity of touchpoints over quality. But by leveraging relatively recent advancements in AI and hyper-personalization, marketers are now able to make much more meaningful connections by leveraging data collected throughout the buying journey in order to offer customers an experience that adds real value to their buying journey, resulting in much more engaged and longer-term customers.
Folloze works with enterprises such as Autodesk, Cisco, Marketo, Microsoft, and Oracle. What kind of customer success benchmark do you have to sustain your relationship and Sales growth?
I often say, “success means success.” In other words, as vendors, it is our responsibility to ensure customers gain actual value from working with us. To that end, at Folloze, we focus on making sure our customers mature quickly through a well-defined playbook:
– First, let’s work together to get your strategy right.
– Let’s make sure we all agree and work to a specific time-to-launch for your first campaigns.
– Let’s optimize digital engagement depth – i.e. maximize the number of prospects in your target audience that actually engage in-depth with the campaigns, leveraging our tools that let you measure it fully.
– Once all these pins are standing, we can dive into the business of transforming that engagement into conversation and ultimately pipeline and revenue.
Our benchmarks are efficiency, engagement, and outcomes, and the key to accomplishing the above KPIs is strong partnership beginning with the very first conversation with each of our customers. In fact, one of the key assets we have as a company is the strength of our relationships. We actually invested in customer success before even sales and take it very seriously, which is why we have strong relationships with our partners. Our team works directly with our customers from the very beginning and collaborates closely with them to help them not just deploy a product but to build the right playbook for their Marketing strategy through experimentation and innovative techniques. Companies we work with view us as a strategic partner, which has been crucial to the ongoing success of Folloze.
You recently announced a Series B round of $11 million. How do you plan to extend the benefit of this new funding to your employees, tech partners, and customers?
In addition to boosting Sales and Marketing efforts, we intend to invest heavily in our technology, particularly in the areas of AI and ML-based personalization, all driven out of our R&D center in Israel.
Folloze now has Peter Isaacson (CMO of Demandbase), Sydney Sloan (CMO of SalesLoft) and Jill Rowley (former Chief Growth Officer at Marketo) as advisors, as well as Brian Gentile as Chairman of the Board. What prompted the company to add these MarTech leaders? How will it impact your reputation as a fast-growing MarTech company by having these leaders in your Advisory Board?
We welcomed these Marketing leaders to our advisory board and our Board of Directors because we wanted to collaborate with people who are passionate about revolutionizing how businesses are selling and marketing to enterprises. The industry is changing rapidly and we are in the center of that, so having these key players on our team will allow us to evolve our strategies and stay ahead by continuing to innovate our products and services.
Tell us about your AI and Data Science team who work on the Intelligent Personalized Marketing platform.
– First and foremost is the data that drives customers’ personalized journeys. This is about the ability to aggregate a variety of data sources into one world view of the account or prospect. This is the true context surrounding the prospect and allows us to deliver the very best and most useful experience to them.
– Next is ensuring the content delivered is optimum and matches that context. For example, content that fits a certain upsell opportunity, competitive threat, or a new account engagement.
– The final focus is the ability to create fully personalized journeys, which essentially means ensuring the customer’s touchpoints throughout their engagement paths are contextual, educational, relevant, and supportive of the buying team, whether they’re engaged with a Marketing motion, a Sales motion, or a true joint motion. That requires decoupling the experience from the channels and being able to support any channel. We call it “Full Funnel Personalization” and it is a real game-changer in the world of customer engagement.
Online Customer Experience Management is a very recent phenomenon in B2B Marketing. Where exactly do you trace its roots?
The inspiration for online customer experience management in B2B marketing actually comes from the B2C space. Over the past two decades, B2C marketers have been investing in ever-more sophisticated tools that offer more personalized experiences for their audiences, which are now considered the norm. Because everyone expects a hyper-personalized experience in Marketing, it is now expected in the B2B market as well, but that’s not an easy feat. Traditional Marketing tools cannot operate with the precision to achieve it but, with new disruptive technologies like Folloze, it is becoming easier for Marketing teams to break through and include true and deep personalization in their strategies for the first time.
What companies are doing it best when it comes to delivering personalization to B2B teams? What impressed you the most about them?
Two companies stand out from our client roster, Cisco and Autodesk. Cisco is a company that is in a mature industry, one that is not easy to grow in, but because they are constantly innovating, they are able to stand out in the global market. They do this by using different digital personalized tactics. For example, they had a clever way of determining companies that were likely to buy soon, sifting through the data and identifying companies that already had Cisco equipment, but would need replacement soon because it was outdated or near end-of-life.
Clearly, these were hot prospects because they knew what they were doing and were aware that they had to buy soon, but were also likely considering the competition too, which was a challenge for the company. Cisco would then leverage hyper-personalized campaigns that were ready to go on a specific topic – like upgrading aging networks or competitive comparisons. This allowed them to engage the customers super quickly and made sure sales had everything they needed from the start to work with them. And it worked incredibly well, resulting in a nine-figure boost to the pipeline.
Autodesk is another example of a company that used personalization well to launch and scale an ABM program. As a company, they are very focused on great design and customer experiences, so it was important that their Salespeople provide very personalized experiences to prospects. In other words, ABM was key, and they were able to equip hundreds of reps to provide a deep, tailored, personalized touch for thousands of prospects. We helped them do it and, as a result, they were able to scale their ABM program from zero to ten-thousand accounts in less than one year, as well as implement a strategy that helped them tell a better story to their customers through personalized content. This, in turn, enabled them to increase direct Sales engagement.
What kind of Marketing, Sales technologies, and Automation tools have you missed having in the early part of your career? How do you work with these tools now? Tell us about your tech stack for Marketing, Sales, and Collaboration.
Time really flies in this area. Considering that early in my career we didn’t have smartphones, social networks, accessible video collaboration tools or online ad buying, and marketing automation was just in its infancy. So you can imagine how excited I was to be one of the first Salesforce users and found the whole idea of Cloud-based apps with no in-house servers or customer coding to be simply magical. We’re also not talking 100 years ago either; this was all only 15 or so. So yes, times have really changed.
Today our Marketing and Sales stack relies on many tools (in addition to Folloze of course). Some of the principal tools are Marketo, Drift, Salesforce, Salesloft, Gong, Zoom, LinkedIn Ads, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, DiscoverOrg, Invision, and Slack. And I’m sure I’m missing some in that list!
In the early days, we were missing a way to make meaningful connections with customers and prospects – everything was product-centric and made our marketing strategy less impactful. Since we couldn’t find a solution in the market, we started our own company to fill the need, allowing companies to create meaningful relationships with their customers based upon sharing knowledge and fostering trust. They can now offer an experience of information that is highly valuable by nature of its being contextual, educational, relevant, and supportive of the buying team, thereby making the overall buying process easier, faster and more efficient. They can provide a deeply relevant and value-driven experience for their customers, boosting business on a platform of trust. As we like to say, “at a human level, but at an industrial scale.”
As the CEO of a technology company, what kind of specific training and learning do you undertake regularly? What keeps you sharp in your game?
I recently joined a peer CEO coaching program called 10XCEO to help strengthen my skills and to be more creative and bring new ideas to Folloze. The group meets every quarter with a coach where we present initiatives that our companies are executing and things we are working on so we can brainstorm ideas and learn together.
I also stay sharp by immersing myself in other interests outside of work. I am always learning new things, for example, quantum mechanics, because when you open yourself to other skills, you never know where it may spark innovation elsewhere.
How do you pass the learning and development lessons to your Marketing and Sales teams?
Naturally, I pass along these pieces in meetings and 1-on-1’s – whatever new ideas I absorb from my peer group, advisors and elsewhere. But beyond that, I constantly encourage my team to find ways to step outside of our day-to-day activities and to challenge ourselves to think and try new things. We bring expertise from the outside when needed even if for just short durations to address specific dilemmas, and leaders in the company offer mentorship to team members wherever it makes sense.
Most importantly, we try to foster a culture where we can all make mistakes, learn fast and change course as required. And I work hard to never forget that learning from my team is every bit as important as teaching them – I do not have all the right answers, it is a two-way street.
For the New Year 2020, what message do you have for your young Marketing and Sales professionals?
– Mass Marketing is dead. If you want to be successful either in Marketing or Sales, you have to provide actual value to every prospect and every customer each time you have a touch point with them. You have to educate them, earn their trust, and earn a seat at the table. It’s no longer just a game of volume and networking, it’s creating an ever-truer partnership around ideas, concepts, beliefs, and knowledge.
– You cannot operate as an island. The days are gone where marketing could operate in a lead-centric fashion, attracting and nurturing prospects, then throwing the qualified ones over the fence to sales to pick up the ball and try to independently run them across the goal line. Instead, now Sales and Marketing absolutely must operate as a tightly-knit team, running the ball down the field together as a soccer team would – passing it back and forth from start to finish. In 2020, you are truly each others’ best enablers and a path to combined success.
One Business Quote that made the biggest impact on your workplace:
I sometimes think Leonardo da Vinci may have been the first start-up guy. I love this quote of his and try to live by it every day: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do.”
Which superhero character/movie do you most profoundly relate to:
I love the movie “Apollo 13.” I find it to be a story of true heroism and incredible resourcefulness. Failure was literally not an option for these teams, and they snatched three absolutely doomed people from the jaws of death and brought them home. Breathtaking.
Tag one Sales leader from your community whose answers to these questions you would like to see here:
The list is actually quite long, but Gerri Elliot, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Cisco, definitely springs to mind. She is a remarkable change agent and an inspiring leader.
Thank you, Etai! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Etai is Co-founder and CEO of Folloze. Prior to Folloze was Sr Director and GTM Operations of Juniper Networks. Etai completed his Bs & MBA in Tel Aviv, Isreal.
Account-Based Marketing is changing the way we think about B2B marketing and sales. Companies that target mid-large customers face significant pressure to step up marketing contribution to day to day sales needs. ABM is the answer, scale of ABM is the challenge. Implementing ABM at scale involves re-thinking of traditional categories like demand gen and sales development, it involves re-considering usage of traditional tools like marketing automation and sales enablement.
Folloze was built around the very concepts that unlock ABM – personalization of content experiences, delivery of marketing quality reach outs by sales using marketing templates. Folloze is the leading Enterprise Account Based Marketing and Sales Platform. We power Sales to use tailored Marketing strategies, accelerating revenue growth through increased customer engagement, at scale.
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.