Recap: #27 - Venkat Nagaswamy: Account Based Marketing & AI
#27 - Venkat Nagaswamy: Account Based Marketing & AI

AI is the biggest change within our lifetime, so learn about it and become ready for it

Venkat starts by introducing the concept of Account Based Marketing as (in his own words) “old wine in new bottles”. So, as he explains, ABM is a series of Marketing activities designed specifically towards a given account.

ABM leverages the knowledge of a given account stakeholders by focusing Marketing activities specifically towards the “eco-system” created by such a collection of specific individual stakeholders and client company culture/ pains/ aspirations.

AI allows finding the target prospect and the people in that company with decision-making capacity, who are interested in a given portfolio item and forward a tailor-made marketing message to them

The edge over Outbound sales

Initially, pure Outbound sales, were supported by email or phone based marketing campaigns. Then a new Marketing channel presented itself under the form of targeted advertising over several platforms (Google, LinkedIn, other) allowing the widening of reaching out potential towards prospects and clients. What ABM now brings it the possibility of orchestrating all of the previously mentioned approaches yet with the leverage of shaping the message specifically not merely towards a given account but also towards a specific profile or person which is a stakeholder/ decision maker within that target account organization. And the “engine” that empowers all of this is AI.

AI allows to specifically send a tailor-made message about a new product that is within the sphere of personal interests of a certain decision maker within a given target account corporation, therefore fostering the sale potential by having someone who is a decision maker informed of one’s product/ service (most likely ahead of competitors positioning themselves).

Over the last 5 years or so, social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn have, by themselves, gathered and became information repositories that allow arranging individuals by their preferences, hence mapping potential laser focused marketing messaging that will directly impact personal aspirations.

Besides the huge advantage of having AI doing such qualified laser focused scrutiny and marketing message selection, the real leverage lays in the possibility of doing it simultaneously massively towards a great number of companies, without the need of hiring a colossal sales team in numbers.


AI is following the exact same market penetration pattern as Outsourcing did when it “arrived” in the market some 20 years ago.

The need to Outsource arises from either not having the internal capability or capacity or because it is a cost effective option.

In a similar fashion AI can upscale any Marketing initiative (in the present “case study”) both in range as in quantity per time unit with a much lower cost and in a more efficient way that if the task was to be done by a team of human beings.

Venkat further adds the example of auditing and inspecting a given factory shop floor; when done by humans, the audit or inspection is performed via a partial small sample of the entire landscape due to the timeframe that would be required to audit all the products in the assembly line, yet if done by AI every single product can be audited and inspected.

Coming back to the concrete offering that Mariana IQ enables if a company outsources its marketing campaigns to MarianaIQ or any other similar service and there is a 5% errors margin, that represents nevertheless a success rate that is much higher than any similar campaign run by humans.

Evolution Potential

AI brings yet another leverage point which is the ability to evolve and learn not only based on the initial data that is provided to it but also having the capacity to prioritize most relevant information over the several consecutive iterations.

Venkat used to run enterprise marketing to Juniper and that was, in fact, ABM marketing focused on the service providers that use Juniper equipment and solutions. Nevertheless, that was a limited number of partner companies with a specific common goal/ reason to buy; likely to be having a set of pre-defined technology enabled features that bear quality and resilience at a given price. Now, if the company was to move one step lower in the potential market layer ladder, and that means going after end user companies it totally became unclear what their real motivations and fears would be (besides sharing the same as the previous layers). Doing such research with just humans would represent a colossal task, which would require a huge team in each geography and take a great deal of time to accomplish

ABM within the “traditional” modus operandi would require a big human team, which inherently could only be sustained by large corporations. Now while empowered by AI, the team scale issue ceases to be an issue, which allows the democratization of ABM by scale factor potential.

Key factors for a successful ABM initiative

Here Venkat starts by saying that to begin with and from an organization perspective, Marketing Sales and Customer care need to be aligned within a framework.

Then the steps that need to be undertaking in a row are:

  • Target Account definition – Which are the target prospect companies to go after.
  • Target Contacts definition – Who are the key decision makers within each Target Account that can become facilitators and buyers of our portfolio items.
  • Activities definition – Which are the Sales and Marketing specific activities (online and face-to-face) that will be undertaken and in which order to assure a sale.

All of the above mentioned needs to be supported by a solid framework that comprehends definition, reporting and review processes and cycles as well as clear metrics that can mirror success levels.

A CISCO initiative to assess the best sales person profile revealed that sales success derives primarily from keeping in touch in between sales.

So, Marketing needs to be a constant flow which supports the client; and in fact, sometimes SMBs have an advantage point by being closer to clients.

Mariana’s offering focuses on the Marketing Execution part, so supporting its client to realize which accounts to go after, who within those accounts is relevant and what is the key message to address to those stakeholders/ influencers/ decision makers over which platforms.

AI supported ABM works best if the client company is composed of sales and marketing structures that are “fragmented”, meaning there is no central awareness of prospects and clients, being such knowledge scattered amongst different teams and or geographies/ market verticals.

In such case AI will allow the establishment of awareness and prospect pipeline clustering within the corporate portfolio.

To be effective at least a minimum of 200 to 300 sales interactions with several clients need to be available as backlog for AI to “analyze” as well as a track record of online advertising.

Some 70% to 80% of B2B Marketing is outsourced through agencies

The Agencies either Creative, Marketing Automation, Media Buying or other are huge potential partners, and MarianaIQ as a solution has a huge potential towards supporting them on making their work more effective.

Between May 2016 and March 2017 all the deals accomplished by MarianaIQ as well as new customers on board have been raised by, hence making the company a success story for its own product/ service. Year to date the platform generates between 20 and 40 monthly internal qualified business leads.

Success Story

ZenDesk is a known B2B marketing company that has earned several awards for their inbound marketing campaigns. At a given point in their business, they reached out to MarianaIQ to assess how they could leverage their outbound lead generation capabilities.

ZenDesk provided a list of around 400,000 individuals who held stakeholder positions at some 40,000 prospect companies in the U.S.; as it is easily understandable, the sheer workload of performing an error free analysis over such a sample universe based on human work, made the task unreachable, so Mariana was called to act and within one day a model was generated based on properly detailed analytics. The interesting thing is that as a proof of concept, Zendesk decided to undergo a human based similar effort with a dedicated team and it took them 3 months to reach approximate results.

So, towards ZenDesk, Mariana was able to create an “Account Model” and a “Personal” model followed by an Audience of around 100,000 persons who constituted the high potential target market; the outcome was the effective increase of high-quality leads and deals with no cost per deal increased, therefore assuring profitability (details not to be disclosed). Maybe one major win has been the ability to reach half of these target market (some 50,000 people), with qualified individually focused marketing messages with just 3 days, which by itself an amazing time to market accomplishment when compared to “manual campaigns”.

Having valuable content to feed the AI is one major initial challenge

I'm an Outsourcerer. I'm a DNN Geek. I help people with their sites @ DeskPal. I'm a #Pomodoro practitioner. I'm a husband and a father of 2 beautiful girls.

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Aderson Oliveira
Aderson Oliveira