CUSTOMER INSIGHT 01:
CEO, Growth Intelligence
We are delighted to share TechPros.io’s interviewer Paul McVeigh’s fireside chat with Tom Gatten.
Tom is CEO of Growth Intelligence, a platform helping B2B companies prioritise their marketing spend.
12 months since launch, their Network Sunday programme has already delivered annual recurring revenue (ARR) sales pipeline of £6 Million. Tom explains why it works so well and shares lessons learned.
Growth Intelligence CEO
Why did your company decide to hire Network Sunday, instead of choosing a different marketing services provider?
We had a strong recommendation from someone who was working for us called Edwin. It’s a tangential way of marketing, I think the best marketing is tangential, something that is participatory content creation as Network Sunday is or, as I was speaking to someone earlier today - sending architects a brick, and asking them to draw a sketch on a brick, and then having a ‘sketch a brick’ competition for architects. It's totally tangential to what they're trying to sell (bricks), but they’re not selling the bricks to the architects, they are getting them to draw on the brick, hold it, feel its texture, and its weight and its quality because they're going to draw a picture. But it's really because they want to get the product into the person's hands, and it's a bit like what we do with Network Sunday. It is getting exposure to them, letting them see that the human beings at Growth Intelligence, are intelligent, thoughtful, and will listen to you.
When you’re buying a B2B service, a lot of what you're buying is the quality of the relationship you have with people. And so, it allows you to show, but not tell, which is always much more convincing, but very hard to get sign-off for a programme like that. It's like any of the most effective marketing campaigns - how did they get sign-off for Salesforce marching through Oracle CRM events waving placards, saying, “No Software”?!
The most effective marketing campaigns are always tangential where you're talking about something that isn't directly selling because no one likes to be sold to.
The most effective marketing campaigns are always tangential where you're talking about something that isn't directly selling, because no one likes to be sold to.
When you’re buying a B2B service, a lot of what you're buying is the quality of the relationship you have with the people.
You've touched on this, but compared to other marketing providers you've worked with in the past, how is Network Sunday's methodology different?
It is because it is participatory, it's collaborative. It's a collaborative process, and you are saying to someone, "Let's do something together. Let's create this whitepaper together,” so that's why it's successful.
It's less direct - It's not selling, it’s creative, it’s engaging. So we make them the hero of a process that doesn't just involve an interview, and then a write-up, but it involves significant thought about that interview and what they've said, their background, their context.
And then a really thoughtful exploration of key themes, which helps them develop their understanding, and then a piece of content is produced, and events that we run where we get people together that have been interviewed. People’s peers are together in a room, and they absolutely love those sessions.
And when we do go through the process and people become a customer... someone - I won’t say their name, but they’ve recently become a customer of ours, after having been interviewed by you and being through the process, he said that it was such a good sales process that even if they hadn't purchased, they still would have got value out of going through the process, which is brilliant. So, we are adding value to someone, whether or not they end up purchasing.
And that all works from a marketer’s point of view, if you can be highly targeted about who you're going after. With tangential marketing programmes, one of the ways in which they fail, of course, is if you are giving away free iPads or whatever it is - inviting people to expensive conferences at the Four Seasons that are not ultimately going to get value.
We are adding value to someone, whether or not they end up purchasing.
How helpful has the third-party, TechPros.io brand been in facilitating a dialogue with participants?
I think it's a critical part of the process because it makes it non-linear. It makes it not a sales process. People tend to react differently when they're in front of a vendor versus when they are in front of a market research company. That's a dynamic that most businesses use and make use of, all the time. People are much more comfortable speaking to a non-biased third party about anything.
That's the dynamic that we use in Network Sunday/Growth Intelligence - TechPros is the brand that is on point - that is being creative. So, I think it is very important.
Getting people together with peers works really well.
To what extent do you think that interview participants, that you've spoken to, have found the experience valuable, and why?
I consistently get people saying that they are pleased - I think people like being listened to by intelligent people that have thought about what they're saying. I think the people are very important - the interviewers being clearly informed and respectful. The process is respectful - persistent! You know, chasing people down and if they have a hint of wanting to speak, it's polite but respectful.
And when people feel listened to, and their thoughts are not just listened to but interpreted in the context of other things they've said, in intelligent ways - I think people get value out of that, actually, even if we do nothing else.
The other thing people get a lot of value from is me saying, “well, this is what these people in these industries said in answer to this question”, we’ve done 70 of these EXPs (exploratory follow-up calls with interviewees) – here are the five themes that came out of them. Here's something you didn't say that everyone else seems to have said and here are things that you said that were totally unique.” Either way, it's really useful for them.
Besides meeting interviewees, what other benefits have you seen from the marketing programme?
Learning about the perspective, it’s very easy to have an insular view of the market. And the thing that people don't do consistently, even if it is one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do, is talk to your prospects - understand their worldview, and that's what we get from it. We understand what they're worried about or what they're not worried about. I might go into this thinking, “we're going into a recession, people's budgets are going to be cut”, and then I speak to people, and they say to me, “actually, you know, we just got way more money to invest in this programme because we want to acquire commercial mortgage customers that are being rejected by the big banks right now.”
So, basically, you have your preconceptions challenged and get closer to your customers and your market and understand what they feel and think and like and want.
It's not selling, it’s creative, it’s engaging…TechPros is the brand that is on point.
It's one of our most important channels and it's become so over the last year.
What advice would you give a new TechPros sponsor planning to follow up with an interviewee after the interview?
It has worked for us because I have done the follow-ups. I think that is really guaranteed to work. If you've got someone very senior - in our case, it's the Chief Executive doing the EXP ones (follow-up calls with interviewees).
Because people get value from their peers, and people want to spend time with their peers. People are facing the same challenges as them.
That's why our events work. And that's why, for example, Julia Nixon at AVK - Just because we happen to be talking about her - You know, her best marketing is where she gets Engineers together with other Engineers, both of whom love valves. Getting people together with peers always works really well, and I think people are very sensitive to that, and respectful, Again, if they feel like the process is not respecting them and their position in society and the industry, then I think it wouldn't work, so I think you've got to invest the time with the right peer. You've got to work out who is the closest we have to a ‘peer’ for that person and put that person to do the EXP one.
How do you switch the conversation into more of a ‘sales-type’ conversation?
I think that's easy! In fact, it becomes trivial as long as you've developed some rapport. I don't even talk about our product in the EXP one: I just say, “I'd like to show you something.”
It’s not quite like that - But I could probably do that, and it would probably still work, because it's not a sales pitch. It's genuine. Once they get to know you, they know you're not trying to fool them or trick them, and it's so much easier.
You’re creating a community, that’s how we see it. But you’ve then got to continue to add value, not just a one-off, you've got to continue to add value to people.
We're probably going to win three customers this year, each of them representing about £2million worth of ARR (annual recurring revenue).
What value did you get from the programme and what have the results been so far, and if possible, could you list the expected total contract revenue from sales and pipeline so far?
Hmm. It's one of our most important channels and it's become so over the last year. It's sort of taken over from one of the more linear channels that we have, obviously, we have other channels as well, that are also effective - digital advertising being a really important one, content creation being a really important one, events program being a really important one. But it's become one of our most important channels.
In terms of like how much revenue it's going to bring in... we're probably going to win three customers this year. Each of them is probably representing about £2million worth of revenue. ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue), that is, rather than revenue.
You have your preconceptions challenged and get closer to your customers and your market and understand what they feel and think and like and want.
So, is there any other advice that you would give to somebody embarking on a Network Sunday programme for the first time?
Follow-up - because they get so much care and respect, if they're then dumped after the EXP one, which is frankly what we did for the first six months - We just sort of just, sort of, didn't do any more follow-up content - I think they feel that that's quite abrupt.
So, running an events programme, where we get these interviewees together is the answer to that for us, but for other people it could be follow-up content, or interviewing them over video or getting them on a podcast or whatever it is.
You’re creating a community, that’s how we see it. but you’ve then got to continue to add value, not just a one-off, you've got to continue to add value to people.
The other thing is that none of this works if you don't have full confidence in your total adjustable market, and you can hand that total adjustable market to Network Sunday and say, “these are the people we know we want to target”. If you have doubts about that, then everything else is going to fail. You're going to be annoyed at having to interview someone that is going to turn out to be a waste of your time. It's going to feel like they're wasting their time. They're going to pick up from you that this isn’t a good use of your time, and you can't invest in them for the long-term to get the revenue from it, because you don't believe in them enough, so it's only worth doing .
The first thing you need to do, is know the names of every account that you want to target, and you need to be reasonably confident that this is the full set of accounts that you need to target (you don't need any more) and that each one of these is genuinely a good fit.
If you’ve got that, then it makes sense.
The first thing you need to do, is know the names of every account that you want to target.
Growth Intelligence provides an Account-Based Marketing platform that enables marketers to create, run and measure highly personalised marketing campaigns at scale.
Our technology unifies your CRM data with our unique company intelligence to create a single view of your best fit accounts. Marketers can then run multi-channel campaigns at scale to digitally warm up every account with highly personalised content. Once accounts reach are sufficiently engaged, they are automatically routed to sales teams for a more timely and personalised follow-up, dramatically improving go-to-market effectiveness.
The world's most innovative marketing teams at companies like PayPal, American Express, Vodafone, and many others use Growth Intelligence to drive sales and marketing alignment, lower acquisition costs and improve lead conversion rates.
For more information, please visit www.growthintelligence.com.
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