Steak Dinner and the Rise of the SDR: Demand Gen Insights from Kevin Bobowski

Kevin Boboski is the VP of Marketing at Act-On, a marketing automation software. His role involves leading the demand generation team which includes content marketing, go-to market strategy, demand generation campaigns and sales development outreach.

Leading a dynamic team in a fast growing, high velocity business presents a wealth of unique challenges. The experience he gained at ExactTarget, which involved growing revenue from $50 million to $400 million, prepared him well for the challenges he faces in the role he occupies today.

Here are a few more fun facts about Kevin:

You can view the whole video here:

Kevin talked about two very distinct tactics that caught my attention. He shared a story of how the co-founders of an early stage startup went to the SaaStr Conference where they learned two key growth strategies: The Steak Dinner and The Rise of the SDR. Let’s dive into it a bit.

The Steak Dinner Phenomenon

Kevin shared the value of bringing prospects to steak dinners — or field marketing events if you will. He finds this interesting because many marketers are not using this strategy because it is considered old school.

It’s such a great intersection of demand generation and the brand. I think field marketing is awesome.

I personally think this an account-based marketing strategy that have been used for decades. Do you remember getting passes for golf outing or a baseball game? It’s like bringing the right minds together in the environment.

The Rise of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) that report into Marketing

Sales Development Reps — typically new college graduates with one or two years of experience — process inbound leads, conduct outbound prospecting and set up demo appointments for the sales team. Kevin first experienced this model at ExactTarget, where it was a huge success in terms of ROI, and now sees early stage companies choosing to implement the SDR model over the inbound marketing model to scale their business.

What I love about the SDR model is that it is highly scalable, you can keep growing it and it creates your future sales team. What is more fascinating is how it is leading to another trend — account-based marketing.

An SDR already targets accounts and marketers should be thinking about how they go after certain accounts.

One of the trends Kevin loves with account-based marketing is the predictive aspect. “If you have 2,000 accounts, which ones do you go after, which ones do you call, and which leads are more likely to score higher or convert into opportunities,” said Kevin. “It involves an interesting intersection between the SDR model, account-based marketing and predictive analytics.”

[Tweet “The rise of the #SDR is contributing to the rise of #ABM – @bobowski”]

Well, if you think that’s interesting, read on the top three practical trends that Kevin is witnessing through his massive experience of Salesforce, ExactTarget, and now at Act-On.

Trend #1: Sales and Marketing Alignment

This truly starts with “crafting an effective go-to-market strategy,” said Kevin. This involves working with the product team to have a good understanding of new products and features which allows him to determine the best way to get that out in the market from a marketing perspective.

The other piece is “how do we enable sales and get them excited about selling,” as Kevin mentioned. In Kevin’s role, a critical component to his success is to have outstanding sales and marketing alignment along with ensuring that this alignment is tied very closely with the product strategy.

[Tweet “#Sales and #Marketing alignment starts with your go-to-market strategy. – @bobowski”]

Trend #2: Hitting A Pipeline Number

Marketers should be focused on converting leads to opportunities — which is a great predictor of quality.

I’m a firm believer that marketing needs to own a number — not a lead number, but a revenue number. One common mistake with marketers is they think they need more leads.

The other area of focus is on how much ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) is generated. This number is great indicator of how well product, sales and marketing are aligned. Sales needs to close deals and marketing needs to figure out which accounts to target that have the highest value. Both of these cannot happen unless there is a great product developed by the product team.

Trend #3: Brand Drives Demand and Demand Drives Brand

“A common mistake is dividing marketing into brand marketing and demand marketing,” said Kevin. “To me, you can’t have a great demand generation program without having a great brand.” He quickly acknowledged that “building a great brand is expensive and it takes time and effort.” Because of this, you can’t have a great brand unless you have a great demand generation program in place.

Another mistake is focusing too heavily on side and neglecting the other. When an SDR is making a cold call to a company, Kevin wants the person on the other end of the phone to say “Oh, I’ve heard of your company before.” He believes that is where the intersection of demand generation and brand building truly come into play.

[Tweet “You can’t have great #DemandGen with out a great brand. – @bobowski”]

Kevin finished this thought by saying “the brand is a byproduct of your culture internally. You need a great healthy culture to be a winning company and do great things.” If you are not focusing on the brand, you likely are not focusing on building an amazing, enthusiastic culture with your organization. Kevin referred to this as “Inside-Out Marketing” where you start with focusing on creating a great experience for your internal team which then spreads outward to customers.

Kevin shared a wealth of insights and I help you found it useful. What is your favorite demand generation strategy? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.