81 & Sunny’s Eric Wilder wins Adweek’s B2B ABM Innovator of the Year Award

President, 81 & Sunny

Eric Wilder / ABM Innovator Award

In late 2023, ADWEEK contacted 81 & Sunny to request that we submit how we have used account-based marketing (ABM) to drive tangible business outcomes in an innovative way for our B2B clients.  Because 81 & Sunny eats, breathes, and lives in the B2B demand generation world, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to showcase our entire team’s value as the best in the business B2B agency. For further context, in the article published by ADWEEK, they are honoring Standout People, Brands and Campaigns in the Growing B2B space and those who push the industry forward.

Below are the questions/topics ADWEEK asked 81 & Sunny to submit. When reading, please keep in mind ADWEEK needed to choose an individual to receive this award, but Eric wants this to be recognized as an agency award because it truly involves the entire team to execute these types of campaigns due to their complex and hands-on nature

How has 81 & Sunny used account-based marketing (ABM) over the past year to drive tangible business outcomes? 

When it comes to developing a successful ABM strategy in the B2B tech space that is designed to bring new logos in the front door vs competitors, the majority of agencies out there, big or small, have gotten comfortable exerting little effort by seemingly only willing to provide basic solutions for their clients. Consequently, these lazy programs proved unsuccessful or showed little impact. 81 & Sunny took notice of this growing lackluster trend in the market and felt it was his responsibility as a seasoned marketer and as a performance agency owner to provide a next-level, cost-effective solution for his clients by creating what would later be coined as a “Pipeline Acceleration Program”.  This program would also be executed without an expensive ABM tool which provided the client with significant savings that would then allow for the maximum financial resources available to be invested into the media that fuels the campaigns to their most competitive level possible.  Therefore, maximizing results driven by the investments made into the program itself.

The program 81 & Sunny developed would consist of a multi-channel strategy leveraging a combination of social and programmatic platforms to target open sales opportunities within specific clients’ CRM databases. The program targets the accounts actively being worked in the pipeline by the sales team and reaches all relative job titles within the buying committee, including influencers and decision-makers.  After all, marketing cannot stop just because a quality lead is captured through digital investment.  Day in and day out, potential new customers are most likely being targeted by competitors’ digital investments and are simultaneously weighing their potential vendor options regarding price, capabilities, etc.  Additionally, sales cycles tend to be rather lengthy (9-12 months) in the B2B tech space, so staying top of mind throughout the entire customer journey will increase the close rate.

Furthermore, traditionally agencies or internal marketing teams are goaled on driving quality leads that get scored as either an MQL or SQL. However, because 81 & Sunny’s extensive B2B experience plus Eric’s years of experience on the digital advertising sales side of the industry, the 81 team knows at the end of the day where the rubber meets the road, the only thing that really matters is if deals driven by digital media investment eventually convert into closed/won deals.  Being able to close deals faster is usually the name of the game when trying to win a new customer over a competitor and that is exactly what the Pipeline Acceleration Program is designed to do!

Evidence of the impact and effectiveness of these programs: 

Time and again, 81 & Sunny’s B2B tech clients expressed they were constantly fighting to overcome the same handful of barriers when it came to winning more open sales opportunities within their pipeline.  These obstacles included:

  • The percentage of Closed/Won open pipeline accounts was too low
  • The sales cycle of open pipeline accounts was too long
  • Closed/Lost pipeline accounts were not being re-engaged
  • Quarterly sales revenue goals were continuously falling significantly short
  • Creating and optimizing an ABM campaign without the luxury of an ABM tool, resulting in maximizing funds for media

The entire goal of the Pipeline Acceleration program is to help solve some or all of these obstacles by winning more open sales opportunities at a higher and faster rate along with converting MQLs or SQLs into new open sales opportunities at a faster rate.  This is all achieved while keeping overall costs down but also ensuring that the program has enough fuel to be effective.  The team solved these barriers by:

Launching a multi-channel strategy across Social and Programmatic platforms. Campaigns were individually structured by account or lead status types, like…

  • “New Business Accounts” and “Expansion Business Accounts”
  • “Closed Lost Accounts” to get reactivated into sales cycle 
  • “MQL Acceleration” to convert newly qualified leads into targetable accounts faster
  • Targeting accounts that are actively being worked in the pipeline by the sales team plus reaching all relative job titles within the buying committee including influencers and decision-makers
  • Targeting lists of open CRM accounts that were routinely updated to include newly opened accounts and omit C/W +C/L to prevent waste
  • Targeting updated lists of highest converting job titles on Social and programmatic platforms that matched CRM open pipeline accounts
  • Matching company names back without an ABM tool by a combination of both a manual and formula-driven process

Clients who adopted the program garnered average results of:

  • 60% increase in overall win/loss Ratio
  • 40% higher win/loss Ratio on Influenced accounts
  • The influenced accounts moved 1.5 sales stages faster towards closed/won 
  • 90% of the Top Revenue Closed Won deals were influenced 

Additionally, clients who continued the program quarter over quarter experienced compounding growth to their deals win/loss ratio delta versus the client’s overall deals win/loss ratio. So, this proved that due to the longer sales cycles in the B2B tech space, the longer an advertiser must continue to support open sales opportunities with digital investment because the greater the campaign influence is, the higher the closed/won ratio and the speed through the sales cycle is.

Lastly, the program proved to be cost-effective for 81 & Sunny’s clients from a digital media investment standpoint because it only took ~5% of their overall investment budget to fuel the program successfully.  Also, clients were able to execute an ABM solution no other agency had offered before that allowed more dollars to be invested toward driving sales rather than paying unnecessary 3rd party software fees for smaller programs.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you would like to learn more about how we can help your business!