SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Dmitri Lisitski, CEO and Co-founder at Influ2

Highly targeted, people based campaigns are now becoming a key priority across sales and marketing plans; Dmitri Lisitski, CEO and Co-founder at Influ2 weighs in with a few observations while taking us through the Influ2 launch and story:

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Tell us more about the Influ2 platform. How has it evolved over the years? What are a few upcoming features that users can look forward to in 2021?

The initial inspiration behind the launch of Influ2 was to make the delivery of advertising personal. The goal of this approach was to help sales teams by giving them the power to target specific individuals inside target accounts and empowering them so that they could see what type of content resonated with the potential lead.

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When we started, our initial pitch was, “we don’t replace anything in your marketing and sales stack, we just make your advertising truly precise and actionable,” and we called this approach person-based advertising. Now, we’re evolving. We always listen to our customers, and they asked us if we could apply the same person-based approach to other elements of the marketing strategy. For example, many wanted help creating multi-touch, person-based programs across all channels besides advertising.

We’re proud to say that this year we will be gradually rolling out these new components to help those who are ready to transition from person-based advertising to a holistic, person-based marketing approach.

What are the biggest trends and changes in people-based / targeted advertising today?  Seeing how Covid-19 has laid more stress on impactful digital experiences, how do you feel platforms in the market need to evolve now to meet changing needs?

Marketers have now realized that there’s no going back to what was possible before the pandemic and adjusting to a permanent work-from-home (WFH) audience is required. Additionally, salespeople need continuous marketing support and there is no one-size-fits-all digital marketing solution. In light of this, we’ve experienced increased interest from marketers who were previously reluctant to consider person-based marketing. And, now more than ever, there is an even bigger demand to provide measurable results and prove ROI.

The great thing about person-based marketing platforms is that they don’t need to evolve to meet the current needs of a post-pandemic world. In fact, person-based marketing itself is an evolution of account-based marketing (ABM). So, those who were focused on field marketing, for example, started to think about ABM, and those who relied heavily on ABM are now considering person-based approaches.

Can you share your tips on how sales and marketing teams can optimize their people based ad techniques without creating too many ‘’bait and switch’’ experiences?

Every time a target clicks on an ad, they are raising their hand and declaring, “yes, I am interested”, and I believe every engagement counts. It’s extremely important to pay attention to these signals — and to respond to them — and it’s hard to do this when you are marketing to an anonymous audience.

“Bait-and-switch” is needed when you want your visitor to fill out an extensive lead form, and I believe that lead form kills the potential customer relationship. In person-based marketing, every engagement is identified so that marketers can naturally connect with every visitor who expresses interest in the received content. Instead of focusing on “bait and switch,” marketers can really focus on the meaning, and make the content truly relevant to the person that they are trying to engage with. Then, they can pass these person-based engagements as MQLs to the sales team.

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How do you feel the market for targeted ad solutions will evolve over the next few years?

The whole understanding of targeted ads will evolve as I find that ads are better than unsolicited emails and “targeted” means “being relevant.” We can expect to see a lot of new takes and solutions on a very good old problem that John Wanamaker once defined as: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Can you talk about some other exciting innovative platforms from around the globe that are changing the game?

People-based marketing has been around in the consumer space for a while, but it’s a relatively novel concept when it comes to B2B. Nevertheless, there are a number of solutions that represent a person-based marketing mindset and solve the challenges. While sales teams started owning the top of the funnel, we have seen an explosion of sales engagement platforms like Outreach and Salesloft that drive initial person-based conversations and in many cases, replacing old-school demand generation programs. Another group of exciting platforms is various kinds of intent data providers like Bombora or Episerver Intelligence Cloud, to name a few. These companies translate behavioral metrics into intent signals that can be used to optimize person-based marketing experiences.

In what ways do you feel sales and marketing teams today need to streamline how they plan their outreach and approach when trying to target key decision-makers?

The answer typically seen these days is that marketing and salespeople should work together, and I couldn’t agree more with this belief. However, I don’t think just sitting in one Zoom room every week makes it a collaborative effort. There is more to it than that.

There are two questions that you must ask to 100% positively pass the test of marketing and sales alignment. First, are you talking to the same people? Or, it could be the same ICP definition, but actually different people in real-life? Second, do you deliver the same message? When salespeople read your content, do they understand it or love it, and when they connect to a prospect, do they continue the conversation? Or is it a cold, fresh start every time an MQL is passed to the sales team?

What are a few of your biggest learnings from the industry that you’d like to pass on as CEO?

Every CEO needs to be aware of the business risk while remaining optimistic. It’s next to impossible, but it’s a must for every CEO. If you ignore risks, then you will definitely fail. If you are not optimistic, then you fail as a leader.

A good example of this is the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, I was thinking about how to retain teams and culture when people don’t see each other anymore. I was also worried about a decline in customer base, and the fundraising scene was unclear. At the same time, I found optimism inside myself. This helped to create much less worry about the situation and uncertain circumstances. Our employees found ways to collaborate in the WFH world, and they shared this optimism to our customers. As a result, we experienced expansion, not decline. In the end, our customer expansion helped us to raise the next round of funding. I learned that optimism itself was an important part of the solution to these problems.

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Influ2 is the first person-based marketing platform, pioneering a new approach to account-based marketing.
Dmitri Lisitski is the CEO and Co-founder at Influ2