Sushant Shetty is the Sales Director, India at Epsilon. Epsilon is a Global leader in offering end to end integrated marketing solutions. It provides unrivaled data intelligence and customer insights, world-class technology including loyalty, email, and CRM platforms and data-driven creative, activation and execution. Sushant is head India Sales and is responsible for the India Growth Story. In this discussion, Sushant explains the state of MarTech adoption in India and shares his insight on how a company should go about while implementing ABM in its Marketing Strategy.
Santosh: Do you think that Indian Market is ready Marketing Technology in terms of Infrastructure and Need?
Sushant: With respect to need I would say, Yes. CMO’s and mid-level managers have seen what happened in developed countries. India is going from a developing to the developed phase and has been always known as the technology hub for the world. This is where a lot of CMOs and digital marketing leaders knows what is required for their organization. In a country like India where there are so much competition and very high number of target customers, marketing technology helps to remove the clutter in the marketing process. From the infrastructure point of view, I think we are still developing. Larger companies have better clarity and understanding of the need for the infrastructure in next 2 to 3 years, as they have more matured pipeline.
Santosh: What is the checklist a company should have while evaluating a tool for their Marketing?
Sushant: It depends on company to company and from manager to manager. What I have seen in India is that there are four to five key points that typically most of the companies consider
One is to understand what their most significant need is; unless you know your pain point or your biggest requirement you cannot target that area.
Next is to determine your budget, and key business stakeholders to have the clarity that it should go ahead either with the CIO, CFO, CMO or is there some particular department which is going ahead with the evaluation process and do they have complete buy-ins from the stakeholders.
Another thing I have seen is how to define the program success rate. Marketing Technology can be in the region of unknown and probably you would not know what you will get. A lot of the companies now are good at is how do they define their entire evaluation process. There will be many product companies portraying themselves as the end-to-end product solution. It is critical for a company to have a proper team, to evaluate this and to give the responsibility to determine who the right vendor is. Many companies are doing it well. They are appointing the program manager who jointly reports into different departments and has access to departments under associates to determine the need which is very critical.
There should be a realistic timeline for the implementation of the technology. What happens is you get into the process, talk to companies and the entire contract awarding stage gets extended, which in turn effects your end timeline. Delays affect the Vendors and organizations as well.
The last one is how do you evaluate the success of implementing the product and presence of evaluation metrics is significant for MarTech success.
“There is a need of common KRA systems where both Sales and Marketing works towards the same revenue target and that is why I am so much in favor of ABM as it helps to align into one team.”
Santosh: In our ABM survey, you mentioned that you have a completely aligned Marketing and Sales. Can you tell us what were the difficulties you faced while getting both together and how did you overcome them?
Sushant: The good part of being in a mature organization is that both sales and marketing know the definition of where the company wants to be. I have worked before in the companies where marketing and sales have been working in silos. It is also how KPIs are defined in the organization. Marketing is traditional in India, defined by how many events you sponsor and how many PR events have you done, while hardcore numbers drive sales. There is a need of common KRA systems where both works towards the same revenue target and that is are why I am so much in favor of ABM, as it helps to align both sales and marketing into one team. It is important to have weekly or bi-weekly joint call along with senior management input to ensure where we are going and to bridge the gap. It is essential to have the top management aligned with it to have a well-defined structure to how sales and marketing should operate.
“There are so many advertisements which are going on and a customer will be attracted to those which are relevant to them.”
Santosh: To what extent should marketers be using ABM? Should they go all in?
Sushant: In a company like Epsilon, which wants to push its brand across, not every marketing event is for sales. We have other business as well. In the future, I don’t think that an organization will have a meaning full revenue without an ABM strategy. In one of the surveys, it was mentioned that ABM delivers the highest ROI than any B2B marketing strategy. There are so many things that go along with ABM. Like, we have limited marketing and sales resources, and that is why it becomes very important to bring to bring these two aligned together. Another is customer point of view, customers don’t want mass communication but want it to be personalized. There are so many advertisements which are going on, and a customer will be attracted to those which are relevant to them. These are the reasons because of which ABM is getting so popular over the years. I won’t say you should go all in, but probably you can have 60-65% of ABM in your marketing strategy.
Santosh: What will be your advice to somebody who is planning to implement ABM?
Sushant: In most of the Indian companies Sales and Marketing work in silos. Sales is a very revenue driven part of the organization, and their productivity is defined by how they work month to month. It is difficult but possible to align sales and marketing teams completely. Otherwise, this entire ABM programme will not work.
Another step is to get a buy-in from the senior management. The management needs to believe in this programme, and they need to allocate resources. If it is something you want to do on the fly, then it will never work. You probably need to have defined numbers for your strategy.
Then it is essential to have clear metrics to define key accounts and strategy. You should be clear how do you want to decide that this organization fit not just into your product and services but also the culture. You might want to know that the target account may or may not fit into the culture while working together. I think that is very important and needs to be done at a very early stage.
It is critical to understand what the strategy is. If you are going after an account, then you should have the content to target these accounts in place. You should have all the collaterals in place.
Last is how are you planning to evaluate your ABM strategy. It is essential to know how you are planning to define your evaluation process. You could have a point for feedbacks which can help to tweak your strategy a little for effective results. Do a timely review with the stakeholders to understand where we are today and where we need to reach.
Santosh: What are your expectations from the ABM Best Practices Report: India, 2018?
Sushant: I am very happy that a detailed report on ABM is coming soon. Some of the key things that I would like to know is what do the other fellow Sales, and marketing professionals in India think about ABM.
I also would want to know what are the difficulties that they have faced while implementing ABM and how did they overcome it. In the report, if its possible for you guys to have few CMOs who probably were targeted as part of ABM strategy in the organization and did they find that engagement more relevant than some other marketing strategy. It will be good to know what the end customer thinks when he/she was targeted.