Zebra and hyenas gathered around a watering hole
PHOTO: Ellen White on Unsplash

I want to share with you an analogy that my colleague, Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol, likes to use about dinosaurs and mammals.

For a long time, dinosaurs ruled the earth as the big, loud and most dominant creatures. But then something changed — a meteor and cataclysmic climate change — and all of a sudden, they were no longer set up to be the most dominant. Instead, new species (mammals) were the ones that survived and thrived in this changed world. Why? Because they were more adaptable and flexible. 

This parallels what we’ve seen in the last five years in business. Until recently, the market valued the fastest-growth companies with the loudest roars, and was willing to give them insanely high valuations. Then COVID happened, and even more money was injected into the economy, which just amplified the trend of investing absurdly into growth.

The result was that all these companies ended up sitting on multibillion-dollar valuations and incredibly high-cost structures that may have made them the alphas of yesteryear. But then a proverbial meteor strike — inflation — occurred, and it changed everything. 

So, who will survive and thrive in this world? The mammals again, e.g., the organizations that are nimble and lean. The ones that have efficient cost structures and are growing, but in a rational, steady way. To be this type of company, your go-to-market (e.g., the sales and marketing motions your company uses to acquire, retain and expand customers) must be utterly, unapologetically efficient. 

Equipping Sales With Automation & Intelligence

The first step in elevating efficiency is to empower your sales team to sell more, which could mean you need fewer salespeople to achieve the same targets. You need to make sales development representatives (SDRs) more efficient to generate more pipeline per SDR. You also need your customer success team to retain more customers for this equation to work long-term.

So, then, how do you get more efficiency out of your customer- and prospect-facing teams? The answer isn’t, “they just need to work harder,” because the reality is that most people are already working really hard. Instead, you’ve got to go back to the old philosophy of working smarter. This means enabling the team with account intelligence that makes their job easier, more efficient and more fruitful. 

Account intelligence takes the data you already have but which is trapped in siloed systems, cleans and organizes it, augments it with rich third-party data — including behavioral insights — and makes sense of it with AI.

This process lets you alert your teams to which accounts are most worth their limited time and which will offer the best return. Your team will also know what to say to those accounts to be relevant without having to do a lot of manual research. When combined with sales engagement tools like Outreach and Salesloft, you will further boost efficiency through automation and intelligence.

Related Article: 5 Best Practices for Using AI in Your CX Strategy

Targeting Marketing Efforts With Precision

Next, focus on helping your marketing team generate sufficient amounts of pipeline with less investment. (As an aside, I always talk about marketing spend as investments rather than costs because marketing is something we invest in, not a cost center. This is especially true in a downturn when CFOs are looking to reduce cost centers wherever possible.) 

The first step to marketing efficiency is to automate as much as you can. Your marketers are running around and being told to do more with less, yet they can't hire new people. So, once again, efficiency rules — and automation gets you there. This includes things like automating lists and segments or campaigns, you name it. 

Another way to make the most of your marketing investments is by getting ultra-targeted with how you use them. Practice account-based marketing (ABM) and create an account-based experience (ABX) for your buyers. At its very core, this approach narrows your focus and pinpoints your investments onto the accounts that matter the most — no more “50% of my budget is wasted.” As with sales, your ABM/X tactics should be informed by rich account intelligence to make your spend even more productive. 

So, getting back to the dinosaurs and the mammals, how can you make your company one of the species that is ready to survive in this new world? Back then, the mammals all gathered around the watering hole, and it was those watering holes that enabled them to survive. In today’s business landscape, making the right investments in account intelligence can be your watering hole for surviving and thriving in our own new world. It’s just up to you to get there and drink.