Cracking the Code: The Power of Proper ABM Strategy and Buyer Understanding

Episode 259

October 31, 2023

This week on The Kula Ring, we are having a chat with Chris Moody from Demandbase. We talk about a lot of stuff! Chris is very knowledgeable in the ABM space and walks us through some of the tools that we can use to get more out of our ABM efforts. If this episode is something you are into and you want to hear more exactly like it, you can catch these three having another chat on Demandbase’s SunnySide Up podcast!

Cracking the Code: The Power of Proper ABM Strategy and Buyer Understanding Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: Look, I’m doing well. Happy to be here. Excited for today’s conversation. I love diving into… I like when we have people who are really, really tightly connected to new, emerging technologies, and then we can ask them questions like, “Does this stuff work anyway?” And then see where it goes. That’s kind of the genesis of what we’re doing today and I’m excited about it. 

Jeff White: Yeah. I am, as well, and we know today’s guest is a pretty smart fellow. Had an opportunity to chat with him on another podcast previously and happy to have Chris Moody, the Head of Go to Market and Thought Leadership joining us today from Demandbase. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Chris. 

Chris Moody: Thank you very much. Good to see you both again. 

Jeff White: Yeah. It’s nice to have you on the show. 

Chris Moody: Thanks. Yeah. Lovely to be here. Feel like I should have painted my walls red. I’ll do that next time. 

Carman Pirie: Yes. For folks listening who aren’t seeing the background, both Jeff and I’s background is red, which is why Chris is saying that. There will not be a test at the end of the show. You know, Chris, we’re not gonna just say, “Look, is this ABM, has this shark jumped?” Or have we jumped the shark, I should say. Shark jump. I even get the reference wrong. But we’re not gonna just start right there. So, I think we will start with this kind of notion of beginning to unpack the challenges that marketers are facing these days. And I’m guessing that most of our listeners will know who Demandbase is, but before we go too far, maybe we can give them a bit of an introduction into who is Demandbase and who is Chris, maybe. How did you end up there?

Chris Moody: Sure. Sure. That sounds good. So, Demandbase has been around for quite some time in the account-based space, before anyone was talking about account based, to the point of jumping the shark. I think most still don’t even know what account based is, and everyone’s ready to move onto the next thing, so such is life as a marketer, but we help a lot of folks achieve their revenue goals. That can be with marketing solutions to help with account based. That could be with better, more targeted advertising. That could be with improving their data or the sales intelligence they have that the sellers use to prioritize who to go after. But if I simplify it dramatically, the decisions that we make today impact if we’re good or great and if we hit our pipeline numbers tomorrow, so we’re trying to help folks understand that you need to put your dollars to work harder and smarter right now, and we can help you with our platform, the AI that crunches all the data that exists there, which everyone loves talking about AI, and then ultimately our people, which are going to help you find white space opportunities. 

So, those are accounts that are in market but not obvious to us, which we know is about 5% of the entire account base you may go after. About 5% are really looking to buy, so how do you even get in front of those 5%? That’s what we’re trying to help people solve. 

And what led me here, I’ve been in this space a long time. I mean, I am a marketing dork. I quickly became a marketing curmudgeon. I’m always a bit cynical about most things in marketing, to be frank, but I was an analyst and Demandbase was one of my clients, and we saw a lot of very successful customers, and now I’m here trying to help us catch up some of the brand perception to brand reality. So, trying to close some of the gaps with content, joining calls, talking to customers, talking to prospects, talking to partners, really just being out there and living it. So, it’s very exciting. I call it adrenaline hits. I live on those. I know that I catch grass is greener syndrome very quickly if I don’t have adrenaline hits, so I can get plenty of them here. 

Carman Pirie: Thank you for that introduction. We’ll try to give you enough adrenaline hits through the course of this show to keep you here till the end, but time will tell. Sometimes I think if you were to get like five marketers in a room together and listen to them complain, maybe if they were all turning to be marketing curmudgeons as to your point, I think some marketers are feeling like, “My goodness, is anything working right now?” Like that feeling like nothing’s working as good as it used to. Used to have this set it and forget it in my paid search I knew was always gonna be driving X number of leads, and these channels could do X, Y, or Z. 

Jeff White: Remember when we used to get keywords in Google Analytics? 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I mean, are you feeling that? Are you hearing that? Are you seeing it? 

Chris Moody: Absolutely. I mean, I think most of us have playbooks that we built, established, and refined in the heyday of demand generation, and you know, we can credit Marketo, Eloqua, companies like that, HubSpot. That was the world many of us came up through and refined this stage of what we do if we’re in marketing. And what we continue to see, and we have a lot of access to data through analyst firms, and third-party stats, right? I mean, we see that only about 5% of the buyer’s journey a buyer wants to spend with a seller. 

So, okay, look. 5% of our accounts are in market. Only 5% of the entire time they want to talk to anyone who could best represent our company. How do we get in front of this very small number of correct targeted people with the perfect message at the perfect time, knowing that time is extremely scarce? And then when I was at Gartner, I was in the sales practice, and we surveyed reps, and 70% of reps would say that their number one challenge was getting time and attention from the buyers and the stakeholders. So, the world continues to evolve that way. We want to buy things faster. We want that immediacy. Look, I ordered something on Amazon that was here before I woke up. Last night. A spotlight, because my wife goes crazy with Halloween, so I’d show you a picture if this was visual, but we have three 12-foot skeletons in our front yard so far, and there’s more stuff being added, but it happened that fast. 

And as we move into B2B, that’s happening too. I mean, our expectations don’t change, right? Every time you go through a B2C transaction as a consumer, when you see a shipping cost, I think you probably do exactly what I do. You hit command T, you pull up coupons, free shipping code, like, “I should never pay for shipping. That’s not a thing anymore.” The expectations are the same in B2B. So, if you’re in B2B and you’re trying to sell to a business, they’re researching more without you. They’re deciding more without you. They’re building their consideration set more without you. They are forming very strong opinions before we have the opportunity to get in front of them. 

All of that is while we have this wave of, “Let’s have perfect attribution. Let’s track every dollar. Let’s do more with less. Let’s cut budget.” So, we actually start to spend less on some of the areas to get in front of the buyers early when we’re seeing that that’s probably the most important thing we could do in the entire buyer’s journey. 

Jeff White: It does feel a lot like we’re rebounding to awareness stage marketing. Brand marketing, if you want to call it that. And less or fewer dollars are going towards demand gen these days. You know, are you seeing people kind of reinvesting in  just letting people know you’re out there?

Chris Moody: Yes and no. I would love a perfect benchmark on that. I do think it’s still a controversial topic because many leaders are prioritizing revenue-driven metrics. I mean, most are looking at pipeline, closed-won revenue, opportunity conversion. Deeper things in the funnel. And then I believe the three of us are still huge believers in account based, right? To say, “We should spend more time and money on accounts most likely to buy.” The most difficult part of that conversion in the entire funnel is the first part. So, it’s taking a target account and creating engagement. It was 42% when we… So, every other conversion rate throughout the whole funnel is higher in account based, but we’re still looking at bottom of the funnel metrics as success drivers.

So, we have to have a lot of confidence and almost tolerance for risk to reinvest in brand. We know that it works. We know that it works. I think you go through the last purchases you’ve made, guarantee you brand was huge element. I was just telling someone the other day I bought a new phone. I picked my phone case because of videos that they created. And it’s Peak Design. And if you want to see something amazing, go to Peak Design. Every single accessory that they create, every bag they create for photography, whatever. They put the creator on camera talking about why they created it, and what they learned, and how long it took them, and here’s some of the cool features, and let me show you how this works. I trust them. 

So, if we’re not thinking about that and incentivizing some of those behaviors, we still see a lot of people focused on those bottom of the funnel metrics, and then it’s keeping them from spending more money early to create that awareness, to have people know who you are, to be in that consideration set. So, my yes and no, it was yes, I think the smarter companies, the top performing companies are already starting to be a little looser with their attribution and spending more money early in the funnel to attract the right buyers and to really get in front of them. And my no part of that would be there are still a lot of very smart teams that are looking at bottom of funnel metrics and haven’t quite embraced the tolerance to spend what they should to get in front of brand awareness, and for people to know who they are, and that can be content creation, that could be advertising. This is not just me saying, “Buy ads from Demandbase,” right? 

There are a lot of ways to embrace creativity and brand building that people need to be doing more of. 

Carman Pirie: I think the thing that marketers are really challenged with there in kind of making this case is the second you talk about more brand, more creativity, less attribution, it sounds like marketers just wanting to play around some more. Like it’s not serious business anymore. It’s like we almost had you guys measuring your success, but here you go again. 

Chris Moody: Yeah. Well, you started down the path of nothing works earlier, right? I think in many cases it may be out of desperation to embrace what feels right. So, you’re much easier… You’re much more prone to back off some of the perfect attribution, dollar in, dollar out methodology when you hit a point where things are more difficult, you’re missing numbers, you’re not hitting the growth that you need to hit. Then you have that, “Oh, no. Things are hitting the fan. Let’s figure this out together.” And hopefully you have a marketing leader going, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for 24 months. We need to spend and get them earlier.” 

And once we can get some of that, we can test it. We can do trials. We do ad-first pilots, right? We try to coach people and help build out that early success. But one other thing, I think to the point of marketers just wanting to play, that’s probably always true. I think all of us do want to play, right? That’s part of the job is the creativity and the science. But we can put metrics around it and not everyone is great at telling early success stories, because it’s not a pure conversion rate story. It might be, “Let me tell you the story of these 25 accounts that we went after, and we compared them to 25 similar accounts where we didn’t spend any money on them. And I want to tell you about the meetings we booked, how many meetings we booked, and what those meetings felt like compared to our sellers trying to get in front of the accounts who didn’t know who we were, where we didn’t spend the money.” It’s touchy feely, right? But it is storytelling and I think the better, the top-performing marketers… I don’t mean better. Better is subjective. The top performers, when I speak with them, I feel like they are masterful at telling the story of early success. 

So, they’re able to get that buy-in and that belief by telling the story of proving the value of investing in brand, investing in advertising, catching them earlier, versus hoping they come around and then having this amazing conversion engine middle or bottom of funnel. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I just think that’s a critical point that it’s not about metrics and data being able to substitute for story. You know, if the marketers are listening to this, it’s about identifying what are the data points and metrics that you’re going to pull forward in those early stages to tell the story that needs to be told in order to actually get the momentum required to make something like this successful longer term.

Chris Moody: Yeah. And reverse engineer the story with metrics, right? Take the metrics of how things are falling off a cliff. Hopefully, they’re not. Hopefully, everyone’s hitting their number and things are lovely, and you’re saying, “What do you mean, nothing works? Things are amazing!” I hope every listener you have says that and they can be like, “Yeah, this guy is a curmudgeon.” I hope that’s the case. But for those who are having more difficulty as they progress through quarters, and coming out of the pandemic, if it’s still really over, I don’t know. All six of us had COVID last week. It was not fun. But look at your baseline. Compare 2023 to 2022. Is it a good story? Is it a bad story? Some will be good. Some will be bad, right? But you could almost reverse engineer the story to say something’s gotta give. We need to do things a little differently. We’re seeing a negative trend here and we’re not going to catch up to our pipeline goal if we don’t address this trend, so here are a couple ways I want to combat that. 

And one of those should be spending earlier, catching earlier, building the brand, and we used to track this at TOPO. We had a brand-driven index, so our CEO, Scott Albro, he would go through and track stock performance of the best brands in the world. It was completely subjective, but if a company made best brand in the world, he would go through and track that list versus S&P, and then look at the performance, and we always saw the stronger the brand, the more positive the market responded to everything that they did. 

Jeff White: Man, it’s almost like we need to dive in a little bit into brand archetypes and the power of creating stronger brands, and how much that’s worth per invested dollar in an overall strong brand. 

Carman Pirie: Well, I think kind of connecting to that idea, Jeff, is because we talk about driving awareness, which always typically, on the tip of the tongue is driving brand awareness, and what do we mean by that? And yes, account-based technologies help us get in front of those target accounts we’re looking to grow awareness with. We know that. But I’m looking to go a bit deeper, I guess, Chris. What are the… Can you give us a sense of the… What’s the anatomy of the really successful campaigns? What are they driving to? What are the experiences that are unfolding that you think are pointing the way to maybe things that others might want to be emulating or at least taking some inspiration from? 

Chris Moody: Yeah. I think it’s a really good question. It’s also extremely loaded, so I’ll try to solve it. No, I think the first, the more successful companies do have a great sense of who they are and what their story is. So, let’s call it brand self-awareness, right? I don’t mean spending on the brand. Sometimes it’s not spending externally on the brand quite as much as others. But most of the top performers, they know who they are, and they know their ideal customer profile or ICP, so they know who they are, they know the stories they should tell, and they know who they should be telling those stories to. That’s usually a common. 

There’s no piece of technology that’s going to magically solve that for you. You have to know who you are. You have to know your ICP. Plenty of solutions will certainly help with the ICP part, right? Demandbase, we have plenty of competitors that help with that too. I just talked about this on LinkedIn the other day. We have some great competitors, right? I don’t bash competitors. I think there are good folks in the space, right? And there are differences between all of them, but okay, you have to know who you are. You have to know your ICP. You have to go through it that way. 

You really need to understand your buyer. So, that’s more than just the ICP. What are their mission critical priorities? What are their key initiatives? What challenges do they face? How are you going to deliver against those? And then it leads to well-orchestrated sales and marketing programs. Once you know their challenge, we should be mapping here’s their challenge to here’s how we can solve that challenge and we help them. And that’s where people can win, and the brand is made of people. You put your best people in front of your best prospects, and you have those conversations. And then you both know this, but I’m a huge believer in what we called high value offers at TOPO and Gartner, so that’s building meetings that are so valuable everyone wants to show up to them. 

So, you can get that entire buying committee to show up, where you can share trends, you can share proprietary data, you can share a customer story of someone just like them, who solved a problem just like theirs, and why they should trust you because you’ve helped them solve that before. But it’s the combination of all those things. So, it is know who you are, know who your buyer is, know what their biggest challenge is, then let’s figure out the best way we can solve that in a very unique, extremely valuable way. And it works, man. We run a lot of these. I had one this week where we had 38 executives show up from a very large company. Business units who were not using us and some who were. But it was the opportunity to share. Here’s what we’re seeing in the space. We want you to be prepared for this. It has nothing to do with our product. It has absolutely nothing to do with our product, but here’s some of the things we’re observing. We want you to know about this. Ask as many questions as you want. I’m here as a resource. 

And we had a huge pool. I mean, it was recorded and shared to 96 people, but 38 showed up. And that’s a good hit when you’re looking at directors and above and getting a lot of people at the right company, but the best folks are starting to coordinate all of those things. 

Carman Pirie: I really… I think for manufacturing organizations, manufacturing sales teams, I don’t know how many times I’ve said that selling in these spaces is a team sport, but I would venture a guess to say I don’t think there’s really anybody in this space doing a good job of consistently creating high value offers. 

Jeff White: Where people are clamoring to join you? 

Carman Pirie: That is a missed… There’s an opportunity there. That’s something for people listening to this to think about what that could mean for them. Chris, I wonder if you could just kind of unpack that a little more. The example you just used is an organization that you’ve already had some sales success with. 

Chris Moody: Right. 

Carman Pirie: So, of course, the cynic in me might say, “Oh, yeah. Well, it was easy to get the meeting there, Chris. You’re already selling in a part of them. What happens when you’re dealing with a prospect that maybe is asking a little bit more of the question. Hey, are you trying to sell to me? Because I don’t want to be sold to yet.” I’d just be curious about some of the different anatomy of high value offers if you would. But Jeff, you can blow my question out of the water if you like beforehand. 

Jeff White: No, I wasn’t going to blow it out of the water, but I was going to say an awful lot of the manufacturers that we work with and speak with on this podcast are primarily focused at selling into expand accounts within existing customers. And you know, that is a very similar situation to what we’re talking about here, but they still haven’t managed to bring a bunch of existing customers from within that client and people who are not yet buying from them and bring them all together to have this discussion about the state of things. So, I think it’s remarkably relevant, but I also agree that an uninterested prospect is going to have a harder time perhaps being interested in that. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. And I’m just wanting Chris to spill the secrets on both sides of it.

Chris Moody: All right. So, I’ll try to hit both sides and I’ll give you a bonus third. So, I’ll talk about one that I was pulled in where they were in the final stages with a competitor. Not an existing customer. Last ditch effort. They’re about to sign with someone else. See if we can help. I’ll tell you that story and then my MBA was in supply chain, so I’m gonna hit on some manufacturing-ish ones. One is Target, which I’ll talk about something that I thought was really cool when I looked at a graduate program there, and a potential job, and then I worked at GE for a bit. I think they’re pretty good at a lot of the premises around high value offers, and what they do with some of their events and the activation. 

So, the first, let’s pick the opposite of a friendly and the potential advantage that that could yield to someone running a high value offer. There is a company that is a manufacturer of garage doors, very large company, and they were about to buy from one of our competitors. One of the sellers had been watching it. They attended a marketing event that we ran where we gave away a workshop and the workshop was on trends, and best practices, and magically they won the workshop. It might have been random. I don’t know. I did not have a say in that, but they won the workshop. And we knew they were in the final mile, so I joined with the key decision maker and parts of her team. A very small group, mind you. But the play was not to sell. The play was former analyst in the space who knows the space pretty well, you can ask him anything you want kind of thing. And I took my Demandbase hat off. We had a great meeting. And then I did make sure to mention if you’re talking to our competitors, there are a few questions I would want to ask and make sure you completely understand, and if they have great answers, amazing. And if there’s anything that gives you cause for concern or trepidation, let us know. Happy to help. 

Planted a seed. Five, six months later, I see that pop up in a win for us, right? So, it was not immediate. It was not immediate. But there was enough of, “Hey, let’s give ourselves a chance here. Let’s open up some potential areas for doubt.” But it was coming out of the good place. It was not salesmanship there. It was really saying, “Here’s some things based on what I know about your team that you should consider.” So, it was kind of free advisory type session. 

The second, this one was pretty quick and easy. Target, they recruit a lot of supply chain graduates. I went to North Carolina State University. They have a very strong supply chain program and consortium there. And I actually toured one of their facilities in Lugoff, South Carolina. Middle of nowhere, right? But they walk you through and you see how the world works, so if you’re a potential supplier, I guarantee you that’s part of their pitch to be in the Target ecosystem is to walk through and see what the world looks like behind the scenes. And look, your product is gonna flow through here, and look at all the magical stuff that happens, and ships it out, and look at the 400 million trucks that we have lined up all around this place. Do you know how many football fields we could put in here? It was that, “Let’s let you in,” and kind of behind-the-curtain Wizard of Oz style experience that they create both in recruitment, and I guarantee you in supplier relationships, because they do some state-of-the-art things, and it was pretty amazing. 

And then the third, GE, I was a part of some of the events that they ran in GE Digital, and they have multiple things that are extremely interesting. Number one, they produce jet turbine engines for folks where you could actually walk through it and see the actual engine, and really understand. When we talk about the power of 1% improvement, how many billions of dollars are impacted when you improve something by 1%? But they would walk folks through various exhibits showing state of the art technology, and then, “Oh, here’s how you could clone that with a digital twin and watch what happens if we do these things and how that could change your entire workflow.” 

So, they took what is an event, you could think of a big trade show, but they had very high touch, high experience, high value offers that were throughout the trade show with experts from each team there. So, any time there was captive audience where they could come through and talk to them, whether it was about a railroad company, or an aviation company, no matter the industry there was something there where they could show them very specifically, “Here’s how we could change your world. Here’s how we’re doing this for others.” And it was beautifully done, well executed, great speakers. They surrounded it in a traditional sales and marketing event, right? But every little activation throughout that trade show was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. So, being somewhat new to the manufacturing space, it was really cool to see how stuff actually works, and they use that to their advantage. 

Carman Pirie: I really like those examples. I think one of the things that sometimes sales organizations fall down to is as they think about creating what they may perceive to be a high value offer, what they really mean is a posh experience, or something like we’re gonna impress them with… We’re gonna build relationships because of how impressive this event is or what have you. But it’s not necessarily always through the lens of providing professional value in that sense. 

Chris Moody: Definitely. I mean, I think you can’t… There’s no substitute for expertise. And it’s finding the right ways to display that expertise. And that was one of the angles that I saw executed the most. And you know, it could be a data set, as well. It doesn’t have to be the cool, exclusive experience, which sometimes they’re packaged together, right? I mean, we’ve debated doing some things like that, getting a very famous chef, and doing kind of some go-to-market recipes, and then doing recipes live, like finding ways to connect the dots. We’ve talked about stuff like that too. But sometimes it could just be, “Look, we’ve helped 10 people just like you, and I want to talk about the from-to of where they started if I aggregate some of their data, to where they are now. What went amazing, but most importantly I want to tell you the three things that we would do differently if we did business together based on what we’ve done with these 10 just like you.” Right? 

It doesn’t have to be this huge, expensive thing. It could be just telling the perfect story to the perfect person and hopefully having someone who can deliver that with conviction, authority, and be a trustworthy source of information. Because at the end of the day, we buy from people, right? 

Jeff White: Dash of panache doesn’t hurt. 

Chris Moody: Exactly. Yeah. It has to be engaging. We usually… That’s one of the attributes we used to say. Engaging. And then everyone’s been on a terrible webinar. You can always say like, “Think of the worst webinar you’ve been on.” Is that gonna work? No. And so, sometimes you start with your bestseller, or your best subject matter expert, and figure it out that way. 

Carman Pirie: Chris, you’ve spent a good chunk of your marketing career being the guy that’s talking about what’s next, what’s coming, what’s the thing that you’re seeing that others aren’t seeing yet, so we may as well put you on the spot. What’s next? What’s coming? Everybody wants to chat about AI and what have you. I don’t want to take that club out of the bag. I’m sure if you have a thought about AI it’ll be slightly different than somebody else’s. I’m curious. What’s gonna shape things the most in 2024 in your view?

Chris Moody: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, my most famous slide I’ve ever built started with what’s the next big thing, and I would do this on keynote stages at marketing events, and then the next click was the next big thing is actually doing your job better, and I would just let it hang and not say anything for 15 seconds and watch everyone stare at me and get angry. But I still think that’s a huge element here. We need to continue to execute and get better at all the things we do, and not chase shiny objects, and squirrels, and rabbits, and all the things we do. 

But two things that I think are going to dramatically alter how we do business. Everyone’s talking about AI, and we have to have a differentiated AI story, but I think with AI you’re going to see good companies and bad companies, just like in the dot com bubble, right? Everyone was a dot com. Now everyone has AI. Everyone’s dot AI. Everyone was dot IO, but now it’s dot AI, right? We’re going to see that. We’re going to see some of that start to separate itself. I really think people are a huge differentiator. You have to have a great data set to have amazing AI, but there’s always going to be a people element to enable your success, and to be there for you, and to hold your hand when things get tough. I think that will be the less talked about part of AI that I do think is a big differentiator. 

And then specific to go-to-market teams and marketers, the lead to account shift was dramatic. Going from an MQL to an engaged account, it changed the world. A lot of folks still are not doing great account based, so we need to get there. We need to do that. But the next thing that’s coming is buying groups, and we’re building that out right now at Demandbase, we’ve been playing around with it a lot, but that’s trying to number one, define, but then infer and build the correct buying group at the accounts that you’re going to target, and using that as an object to run programs, and campaigns, and advertising against. So, if we do Goldilocks here, leads were too small, accounts were too big, buying groups are just right. 

So, I do think that’s going to be the next thing because everyone’s talked about how to reach the right people at the right time with the right message, right? We’ve always said that. Many of us embrace the challenger sale and some of those premises. But it’s really hard to get in front of the entire buying group, so I think that’s the next wave of the martech evolution. Everyone’s talking about it. Analysts are talking about it, so it’s not me telling your readers… Readers? You may transcribe this. Listeners that it’s something they don’t know. But I do think it’s extremely important because we either swing for the fences or bunt, right? It’s like, “Let’s get a lead or let’s go get this big account.”  Buying groups are going to sit in the middle and it’s going to change a lot of how we do business. 

Carman Pirie: I think one of the challenges with the buying groups the way that I’ve heard many marketers think about them is that it’s great to talk about, “This member of the buying committee, this would be the message we would want to get across to them, but this other member over here, this is the message we want to get across with them.” It’s like they can’t speak to them at that granular level, either, you know? And of course, you have the ever expanding… I think it seemed like for a while there, there was at least one analyst at Gartner whose only job was to explain how the buying committee was continuing to increase every year. 

Chris Moody: That was not me when I was there, just so everyone listening knows. It was not an inside joke. That’s probably true. But you know, the numbers will continue to go up. I think it’s not a substitute for personalization and I don’t mean in the buy a personalization product sense. I think a lot of people will embrace technology to do that. But there’s always going to be the people to people story, and I do know analysts who are talking about a fully automated buying universe, where bots will buy from bots, and that’s how we’re going to make all the purchases. Consider me betting against the house if that’s the case, right? I think that will certainly happen in many instances, but there are so many complexities into how organizations actually work, and function, and how well aligned or not aligned they are. What are some of the intricacies to make that work where you have to know all those different personalities? 

So, to your point about buying groups, yes, we might target the buying group for awareness, but if I’m a seller I should know the difference between Jeff, and Carman, and Joe, and Jane, and Paul, and what I need to say to each of them, and how I bring them together for a common cause. And in many instances, it may not be perfect, right? We may have different conversations and that’s part of it, too. And I ran into that on a call earlier this week, but one thing we did, we did have the advantage of having a couple groups who were already customers. We asked them to present what’s working and what’s not at the beginning, and they went through pros and cons, and the cons were about us. 

And that’s okay. It’s not perfect, right? But we also have said, “Can you please send that so we could share that with the product team and try to get some feedback expedited on some of the things that you’re running into?” But there’s always that human-to-human side, so I think that is where I’m turning into a curmudgeon yet again. I love Midjourney. I love ChatGPT. I use a lot of the AI tools. I mean, we have guidelines for how to use them now at Demandbase, so if legal is listening, I do follow the guidelines, but I am a believer in how they can supplement our roles. But I don’t think they’re coming for our jobs kind of thing, right? I think those of us who don’t know how to take advantage of the tools we have at our disposal, I do think that puts us in a bad spot because we could be saving so much time if we used it for X, Y and Z. 

Jeff White: Well, our apologies for calling out Kevin in buying group metrics at Gartner, but your explanation of where to go and what we’re doing next I think makes an awful lot of sense. Thanks for joining us, Chris. It’s been a great conversation. 

Chris Moody: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Good to see you both again. Thanks for chatting. 

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s

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Chris Moody

Head of GTM Thought Leadership at Demandbase

As Head of GTM Thought Leadership at Demandbase, Chris Moody studies all things go-to-market to help sales and marketing leaders be more successful. Always open to collaborate on content, webinars, podcasts, and talk sales and marketing shop. Reach out! 🤘

In a distant world where you could see people in real life (we’re back!), Chris frequently spoke at leading marketing events and guest lectured at universities on using marketing to increase revenue. He received his MBA from North Carolina State University, along with a BS in Business Management. Chris rarely blogs at and has neglected to send his weekly email newsletter for over 500 weeks in a row.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

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Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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