Predictions Series 2021: TechBytes with Jon Miller, CPO at Demandbase
Tell us about your role at Demandbase and how you arrived here.
I’m currently the Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Demandbase. I was a co-founder for Marketo and was previously the co-founder and CEO of Engagio.
I became the CPO of Demandbase after the merger of Engagio and Demandbase in June, 2020. I lead the product team and oversee the innovation development we bring to our customers.
Hear it from the pro: What’s so different about being a CPO of a Martech / ABM company compared to other SaaS-based companies?
Coming from being a co-founder, CMO and CEO of a martech company, I’ve seen that building products for marketers is certainly a unique place to be — you get to have your best customer in-house to be the guinea pig for everything. I’m enjoying leading the product side and creating the best possible tool for our customers.
How much has the Sales Intelligence industry evolved in the last 2-3 years with the arrival of Automation, Customer Experience and Enterprise Apps?
Sales intelligence used to be primarily about providing insights about first-party data. Things like: which companies or accounts are visiting the website? Who is opening emails? Who is attending webinars? But what’s happened in the last 2-3 years is that more and more of the buyer research is happening off your site and out on the open web.
Therefore, sales intelligence had to evolve even more to provide information about third-party intent and what content your accounts are researching. By lighting up those insights, you can start to get some of the engageability of traditional inbound with the targeting precision of ABM.
How do you focus on Martech innovations driven by ML and AIOps techniques?
The amount of data that is available about our accounts and the people at those accounts is staggering. Just in the last question, I talked about tracking third-party intent data — that means we are literally looking at hundreds of billions of transactions every single month. And the only way to pull insights from all that data is with AI and machine learning.
AI and machine learning are used to look for patterns that show key insights about your accounts and take scoring algorithms to the next level. For example, lead scoring used to be all about “points.” Open an email, get a point. Attend a webinar, get 5 points. But now with AI and machine learning, we can actually look at the pattern of behaviors that our best accounts do as they lead up to becoming an opportunity. And then we can look for that same pattern in other accounts and that can identify where our sales teams should be focusing their time and energy. That frankly makes the old point-based system look like the stone age compared to today’s technology.
Tell us about the role of a CPO in a pandemic crisis – what makes you an enabler of digital transformation in such a scenario?
What we have seen is six years of digital transformation in the last six months. Traditional B2B marketing approaches, like investing in trade shows, used to be at their center of budgets and strategies, but now we can’t do that anymore.
That has forced people to move their dollars to digital advertising. And that is changing our product strategy: we are doubling down and making sure that our customers have access to the best digital channels to deliver personalized experiences to their buyers and drive growth.
How did you stay on top of your game and inspire others in the Product Engineering, Marketing and Sales teams?
Like any product executive, the closer I am to the field, the better I am at my job and understanding customer needs.
Therefore, I spend my time and energy building deep relationships with sales executives, sales managers, and individual sales reps on both the new business and renewal side. And because of these relationships, they pull me into deals which means I’m constantly getting to talk with customers. I get to hear what customers are saying, which then allows me to bring insights back to the product team to build better products.
Every product person will say how important it is to speak to customers, but the secret sauce for me is how you get to customers — and for me it’s working in the field.
Tell us about the role of ABM for B2B marketing? How are these different from those applied to retail and non-SaaS industries?
ABM isn’t just for SaaS or specific industries; it is for any industry that is sold through a sales rep and that has ACVs more than approximately $25,000. ABM is like fishing with nets instead of spears. It’s targeted and takes advantage of data in strategic ways. In my opinion, it is the future of B2B marketing.
Where is Demandbase heading to in 2021? Which new markets and industries are you keenly following to grow your business?
While technology companies were the early adopters of ABM, Demandbase has always had a fairly significant list of companies in other industries. We have customers in financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications, healthcare, medical, education and more.
With the launch of our latest platform, we now have this incredible “brain” that ingests data and learns and knows everything about what’s happening at the accounts and people at these accounts. We’ll keep building on that, adding more intelligence and more channels. I’m excited to see the impact the new platform will have with customers and how the platform will continue to evolve in 2021!
What does your remote workplace technology suite look like- could you tell us about the platforms / tools you use to stay connected with your business colleagues
I use the obvious tools like Zoom, Slack (now owned by Salesforce!) and email. And I’ve found remote working to have many benefits. Recently, I’ve implemented a series of 30-minute one-on-ones via Zoom with lots of people throughout Demandbase and got to know people in the company in many ways better than I would have done if I hadn’t been remote.
We also use a tool called Donut which randomly pairs you with different people within the company to strengthen personal connections. Just this week, I connected with an implementation manager and learned about parts of the business that I don’t typically pay attention to and got a lot of feedback around things. It’s a virtual water-cooler!
I’ve also recently started taking more meetings on the phone while taking a walk. I find that in many meetings it’s easy to get distracted and check emails instead of really engaging, but when I’m on the phone and away from my desk, I’m paradoxically much more engaged.
Optimistic predictions / trends you have for your industry for accelerating business development and revenue performance.
ABM platforms will soon reach the same level where marketing automation has been, e.g. it won’t be a question of if you need an ABM platform, but which one is the right fit for you. I know what it’s like to create a new MarTech category and what it feels like for it to take off. I did it as the co-founder of Marketo with marketing automation. I now feel like this is the time for ABM, because the solution has finally come together to deliver everything customers need in the right way at the right time.
Intent data and AI will increase “engageability”. Everyone is used to inbound, which was great because people were raising their hands to speak with you. But the issue was, there was no targeting. Then ABM emerged and it was extremely targeted, but nobody was raising their hands. This is all changing with intent data and AI. These will allow us to deliver the engageability of inbound with the precision and targeting of ABM.
A deepening synergy between ABM platforms and the revenue acceleration platforms, or simply more usage of ABM platforms by salespeople. This isn’t just about marketing, it’s about sales and marketing working together really closely and creating more connection points and integrations between these teams.
Tag a colleague or a person from the industry you know who you would like to feature here:
Jimmy Montchal, VP of Demand Gen at Coursedog
Oleg Solodyankin, CEO at Ignitium
Thank you for answering all our questions!
Jon Miller is the Chief Product Officer of Demandbase. In his role, Miller is responsible for delivering Demandbase’s product vision to delight customers and fulfill its mission of transforming how B2B companies go-to-market. Miller has a long history of establishing and leading some of the most notable marketing technology companies.
Most recently, Miller was the co-founder and CEO of Engagio, the leading Account-Based Orchestration Platform. Earlier, Miller co-founded and held the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Marketo (acquired by Adobe). He is recognized as one of the most influential executives in the marketing technology industry. Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Demandbase is the leader in Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and an indispensable part of the B2B tech stack. The company offers the only end-to-end ABM platform that helps B2B marketers identify, win, and grow the accounts that matter most. The biggest and fastest-growing companies in the world, such as Accenture, Adobe, DocuSign, GE, Salesforce, and others, rely on Demandbase to drive their ABM strategy and maximize their marketing performance.