What We Learned About Account-Based Marketing from Dave Gerhardt @ Drift


What if your boss randomly called one day and told you to completely change the way you do your job. Could you do it?

Dave Gerhardt, the Marketing Lead at Drift, actually received this call and since has started planning to totally change all aspects of his marketing career. No leads. Dave and the entire team at Drift have taken a huge leap and are now shaking up the entire B2B space with their decision to totally do away with lead-gen forms.

This outlook is very similar to ours in account-based marketing, so I wanted to chat with Dave to hear his revolutionary thoughts on doing away with leads. Check out our Google Hangout for all the details.

Before I get into my favorite moments from our interview, here is a little bit of information on Dave:

Favorite book?  “Right now I’m reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. It’s an amazing story to read if you’re interested in startups or entrepreneurship on your own. It is an amazing process and philosophy for business.”

Who is Someone You Want to Give A Shout Out To? “Someone that has been helping me out lately is Mike Volpe, he was the CMO at HubSpot and is an advisor at Drift. He’s been very helpful for us here at Drift so he is definitely someone I will shout out.”

Dream Job Other Than Marketer? “I thought I was going to be in the NBA, but then I’ve never grew past 5’8″. I love sports so I would love to be doing something like that.”

Watch our full interview here

Here are my favorite takeaways from my time with Dave Gerhardt:

Lead-Gen Forms Suck

I saw a post from Dave announcing the switch and it immediately caught my eye. Any company that has the guts to totally throw out what they know and leave their comfort zone is a winning company in my opinion and I needed to hear the back story. Drift is an online software that lets users talk to their website visitors and customers in real-time and the program is totally free and is now working sans-leads.

I asked Dave to share with me the idea behind the switch and this was his story:

“Dave Cancel, CEO of Drift, has been building companies in the marketing and tech space for a long time. He and I have started to notice a big change in marketing. Marketing is trying to be a get-rich-quick scheme instead of building real relationships with customers. At Drift, we have been talking about how we really want to do things differently and focus on the customers. Our #1 goal is the get people into the product so we want to take out all the gimmicks and make it simple,” said Dave.

“There is only two forms that you will see from us moving forward. The first form is to sign up for our product on the website and is only there because there is really no other way to sign in. The second form is a call-to-action that says ‘Hey if you want a post from us once a week, let us know.’ We want to give people the option to join our list.”

Dave says that people are forced to fill out too many forms on many other sites and Drift is striving to divert from this.  Account-based marketing has already caught on to this idea and it is fundamentally challenging the status quo of how B2B should work.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”2rGvn” via=”yes” ]”@Drift is changing B2B as we know it.” #NOLeads. – @davegerhardt @Terminus[/ctt]

Lead Goals Vs. Sign Up Goals

In most sales teams, there is a monthly or quarterly lead goal that has to be hit in order to be considered “successful.” There are so many vanity metrics out there like clicks and impressions that it is sometimes hard to focus clearly on the real thing when someone signs up. Without leads, a new idea must be born to keep up with the success of the team so Drift is using sign up goals.

Because Drift has a free product, they work off of a PQL model. To them, leads are a free user who has signed up. These sign-ups are tracked just like lead goals but are more realistic for an early stage company especially since their #1 goal is to get people into the product.

“Funny story. For our monthly company meeting, our CEO asked me to make a slide of highlights for that month. I did the typical marketing metrics with twitter followers growth, blog traffic growth, and email growth. I got a note back with a big X through all of that. He said that all he wanted was sign-ups because that is all we care about. Now my main metrics are website visitors and conversions,” Dave explained.
[ctt template=”1″ link=”g1ms9″ via=”yes” ]”Change the way you calculate your metrics.” #LeadsSuck @davegerhardt @terminus[/ctt]

Account-Based Marketing Approach

The goal of account-based marketing is to gain interest in a certain type of person not to just get them to fill out a form that you can hand off to a sales rep. This goal is exactly the same goal that Drift is going for.

Marketers have become so right-brained when it comes to data. They are constantly trying to figure out how to look at metrics that they have forgotten how to simplify things.

“Data is amazing in marketing and has taken marketing from arts and crafts to a real channel for revenue and growth. But I think that we have gone too far in that direction and are too data-driven. We have so many dashboards and excel sheets that sometimes we forget what the actual goal is here.”

With account-based marketing, you are able to really dive in deep to individual accounts and make lasting relationships. This type of customer-driven outlook is exactly what Dave is looking to get out of this experience.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”8cJDC” via=”yes” ]”Marketers have become so right-brained when it comes to data.” – @davegerhardt @Terminus[/ctt]

Want to hear more from Dave?

I’ve fallen in love with this Podcast from the guys at Drift, especially the two most recent episodes where they talk about communication as your business scales and also setting goals with no data to reference. Listen to more here.

Account-based marketing can be different for every organization. For Dave’s team at Drift, that means looking at product qualified accounts and no more leads. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.