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Branding a Company that Specializes in Account Based Marketing with Nirosha Methananda

In this episode, we’ve got Nirosha Methananda with us. Nirosha is the VP of Marketing at Influ2, where she is responsible for branding and building the trust of its community. Influ2 allows marketers and businesses to advertise directly to people and have a clear understanding of their engagement and tangible data for sales.

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If you missed episode 212, check it out here: The Elements of a Great Sales Manager with Todd Caponi

What You’ll Learn

  • Account Based Marketing means that the point of sales and marketing alignment is simply joint planning process & goals.
  • There needs to be shared metrics, shared account planning and account mapping to understand what accounts need.
  • How inspirational Nirosha’s story and career background can be for many.

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About Nirosha and rule number 6 [2:40]
  2. About Influ2 and account based marketing [6:46]
  3. The foundations of brand building and the tools necessary [18:01]
  4. Aligning the sales and marketing organizations in the right way [24:11]
  5. Paying it forward [27:44]
  6. Sam’s Corner [31:50]

About Nirosha and rule number 6 [2:40]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. Today on the show we’ve got Nirosha Methananda, she’s the VP of marketing at Influ2, and she’s had a rich and storied career across a wide set and a diverse set of experiences. She originally wanted to be a criminologist before ultimately getting her toe into the front door at a stationary retailer in Australia that ended up leading to great things, leading to building out a technology consulting practice for PWC in Australia, and then ultimately becoming the VP of marketing for Bombora, and now Influ2, and it’s a great journey and she has a lot of really useful and interesting insights about how people make decisions in the modern era. And about how sales and marketing teams can really and more effectively and practically drive alignment. Great conversation.

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Sam Jacobs: There’s so much in your bio. First of all, when did you identify that you weren’t a morning person?

Nirosha Methananda: Pretty much from the time I had to start going to school and getting up and waking up in the morning. I’m not someone who gets up and is like, “Oh, it’s a joy to be awake.” Particularly nowadays, I work with Eastern Europe and we’re based in LA, I couldn’t be any further apart.

I didn’t quite realize that when I decided to make the move, it wasn’t a factor in that decision. Had I known, I would end up changing companies. The difference between New York versus Eastern Europe is a big difference. So yeah, my days sometimes start at 6:00 AM; that’s not unusual for me to just hop straight on calls at 6:00 AM. So yeah, I’m becoming grudgingly a morning person, but yeah, it’s still grudging.

Sam Jacobs: The struggle is real, as they say. And you mentioned also: You try to take a rule number six approach to life. What is rule number six?

Nirosha Methananda: So rule number six, there’s this story about two Prime Ministers sitting in a meeting having a conference and the one who’s hosting, someone bursts in and they’re whispering something to him and he just sort of says, “Remember rule number six.” So they go back to having their conversation. Again, someone else bursts in and is like, “There’s some emergency.” And then he just sort of says, “Remember rule number six.” And then the other Prime Minister says, “I’m so curious, what is this rule number six?” And essentially rule number six is just don’t take yourselves so damn seriously.

And that’s what it is. And I think sometimes with life and what’s going on in the world and with work and so on and so forth — everything can become so big in your head around what is going on. And it can become really unmanageable. And it’s a little bit of a check for yourself and saying, “Don’t take things so seriously. It’s not the end of the world. Step it back and just have some perspective, basically.”

Sam Jacobs: Well, I agree with that approach wholeheartedly.

About Influ2 and account based marketing [6:46]

Sam Jacobs: Let’s dive into the heart of the matter. You’re the VP of marketing at Influ2. There are folks out there, including me, that don’t know what Influ2 is or does. So tell us about the company a little bit. What do you all do? What’s your mission? What problem are you solving?

Nirosha Methananda: Yeah, so essentially Influ2 takes display and social media advertising out of the dark funnel. And what I mean by that is, marketing teams invest a lot in their advertising. And often it’s not very tangible in terms of understanding who you’re hitting, in terms of accounts. Or indeed who’s engaging, in terms of people.

So, Influ2 has a product, it’s called Person Based Advertising. Essentially what it does is it allows marketers and businesses to advertise to people at accounts and directly to them. And then understand what their engagement is with those ads and be able to bring those insights back, so that there’s something tangible around your advertising. One of the reasons that I joined Influ2 was because: I think there’s a big gap in terms of marketing doing one thing, and then sales having tangible results to follow up on. Often that is a massive gap. And particularly coming from the world of intent for me, I saw that as a pain point.

For me with Influ2’s Person Based Advertising solution, you can immediately tell sales, “These people are engaging with this content, and they’re interested in this.” And it’s not just like a click or an impression or whatever it is. It’s an aggregated engagement, so you have something tangible to actually pass back to sales. And essentially, that’s what Influ2 does.

The foundations of brand building and the tools necessary [18:01]

Sam Jacobs: So, your mandate at Influ2 is to “build a brand.” How do you do that? What are the steps that go into the foundations of brand building, and then what are the tools that you use once you’ve built that foundation, to scale the brand and drive impact in the right way?

Nirosha Methananda: A large part of what building a brand for me is about education. And especially with … even with Bombora, intent data was a niche when I first started there. So building out that niche category is a lot about education understanding, it’s about penetration of the market. And that’s something that I’m taking and doing at Influ2 as well in terms of person based advertising, is something that is challenging. It’s a different way of thinking about your advertising. And it’s outside of what the traditional is. So really, a lot of it is about education, about transparency and about getting our voice out there. So a lot of it is content for me with marketing, a lot of stuff comes back down to content and making sure that’s on point. It’s about the story and identifying, “Okay, well, where does this fit in the pain point of your target audience? And how do you bring that to life for them?” And humanizing; that’s the other thing. So I think from that perspective, that’s the core to brand building.

The other thing is the trust: How do you build trust with people? For me, it’s about humanizing the brand. So, part of our conversation is about me humanizing the brand. You can hear my voice, you can understand that I’m a real person. And that’s a large part of what we’ve been doing in market is being able to go out, especially with our events. That’s a great way to be able to start to, in a tangible way, articulate who we are from a brand perspective, get people to come and meet us on the ground. We’ve been doing various activations at different events to be able to raise that attention and start to build out that brand from that perspective. So those are probably the core things that we’ve been focused on.

Aligning the sales and marketing organizations in the right way [24:11]

Sam Jacobs: You’re passionate about “sales and marketing alignment” and there’s been a lot of lip service to that. But for you, how do you actually make it real? How do you make it tangible? How do you actually align the sales and marketing organizations in the right way?

Nirosha Methananda: I don’t think we evaluate things … the traditional approaches to things, to the new way of how we want to do business. So, one of the things for me that I’m quite passionate about and I don’t have all the answers to, but I think it is something that needs to be moved forward, is having a collective goal between sales and marketing. If you talk about alignment, if you have two departments, essentially, that run independently and have independent goals. And there is opportunity for contention, there’s going to be contention. Because they have two sets of different goals. Even though they might be complimentary to one another, it’s still two different sets of goals.

And there always leaves that opportunity for, “Well, you didn’t get me this,” or “I didn’t have this,” or whatever it is. And it’s that old dance. So like I think in theory, having those goals and those targets come together, having one revenue goal that you’re working towards and saying, “Okay, cool.” It’s not just sales that owns that revenue goal. Marketing has to own that revenue goal, as well. Because if you think about it from a customer perspective, why are we talking about marketing and sales alignment? It’s because we want to give the customer a better experience.

Paying it forward [27:44]

Sam Jacobs: When you think about people that have had a big impact on you, people that you think the rest of the world should know about, or ideas that the rest of the world should know about, what comes to mind?

Nirosha Methananda: For me, coming to the US, I didn’t really know many people here at all. So I started fresh. People that I’ve found really helpful and have been able to help me along in my journey. Katie Martel, she’s based in Boston. She has a great history, has great knowledge and is very generous with her advice and knowledge. John Russo, from B2B Fusion. He’s been very generous with his knowledge and with his time and so on and so forth. I’d really shout them out. I look at Latané Conant from 6sense, I have great admiration for her in terms of what she’s done with 6sense, how she’s brought that to market. And really connected with all parts of her audience, to be able to drive advocacy from that perspective. And just be able to be supportive of the community, in general. So, I think for me, those are the people.

There’s only one thing that I really, really read religiously. And Bob Hoffman has a newsletter that he sends out on Sundays. It’s really related to ad tech. And the reason that I like it is because he’s very snarky. And I love that. I love that in his writing. He tells it as it is. And then he breaks down things … ad tech can be very complicated. But he breaks things down in a way that is really easy to understand.

Sam’s Corner [31:50]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. Sam’s Corner. I really love that conversation with Nirosha. Account based marketing gets a lot of airplay, but what does it really mean? And what it really means to the point of sales and marketing alignment, which Nirosha talked about is simply joint planning process, jointly shared goals, and making sure that both of these organizations, the sales team and the marketing team are working together and not at cross purposes. And that requires shared metrics, that requires effective collaboration communication, and that even requires shared account planning and account mapping. So that you understand what are the accounts you’re trying to go after and you have a planning process in place.

And I think frankly, that’s something even that I’m thinking about for Pavilion, my company, how do we make sure that we’re more effective at planning jointly? So that everybody feels like these are shared goals and shared exercises.

 


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