Tech Marketer Talks: Nick Panayi, CSC – Part 1

Garrett Mann
Garrett Mann

Director, Content Marketing

Nick PanayiAccount-based marketing (ABM) Nick panayi is the Director of Global Brand & Digital Marketing at CSC.  His areas of responsibility include global brand management,, digital content management, marketing programs, marketing operations and marketing automation. We recently had a chance to sit down with Nick for a two-part interview which covers many areas that are top of mind for marketers including Sales/Marketing Alignment, Account-Based Marketing, Marketing and Sales Intelligence, and Marketing Program Execution.

In Part 1 of the interview, we discuss how to effectively align the goals of your marketing and sales organizations as well as how to implement essential account-based marketing strategies and tactics. 

Part 2 discusses how to use intelligence and marketing technology to fuel marketing and sales efforts and create successful partnerships for more effective program management.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at CSC.

I am responsible for digital marketing and branding at CSC.  I joined the company about three years ago and the majority of my 20+ year career has been almost exclusively in marketing, in technology firms.

Can you share with us a little bit about the techniques, philosophies and/or approaches you are using to drive better marketing and sales alignment in your organization?

Right from the beginning, this was one of the things that I set out to achieve – to put myself and the team in complete alignment with sales. Generally, marketing and sales have always been kind of strange bedfellows and it’s important to really head that off and figure out where the possible disconnect areas could be and assure that we build a model and business processes that take those into account in order to overcome any of the traditional impediments that marketing has working with sales.

Frankly, the first area that we identified was to make sure that we are all using the same dictionary. And we think about the whole process from glimmer in the eye to somebody signing a check and we asked the key questions: What are the various steps of the process? What does marketing have primary emphasis and control over? Where exactly does the handoff take place? And what is, in essence, the SLA between sales and marketing?

To answer these questions, we came up with a taxonomy and definitions which takes into account everything from a registration, to a marketing lead, to a marketing qualified lead, to a sales accepted lead and so forth, and makes it very clear in black and white what that means and how you interpret it.

This did more than just get us on the same page. It actually started to build a relationship with trust as opposed waiting until the end to start having the food fights over what leads should be and could be. We headed that off straight away.

The second realization that I had is that this is a company that sells $15 billion worth of IT solutions and services to a relatively small number of very big customers, meaning long relationships and very complex engagements. In other words, perfect for account-based marketing (ABM). Account-based marketing is one of those areas that we’ve spent a lot of time initially thinking about and planning for. We have now really built a solid foundation of technology platforms to support ABM and serve the sales organization, as well as the human capital needed to align in order to make sure that those investments payoff.

Finally, the Corporate Executive Board has done us all a lot of favors in marketing. By doing the research they have done, that put in black and white how important it is to understand the digital front end of the buyer’s journey.  And the only group in the corporation that can shed light on the 57% of the buyers journey that is digital, is marketing.  This gave us another opportunity for relevance with sales which we jumped into with everything we had.

Can you tell me a little bit more about how Account-Based Marketing works for you as well as what you think the advantages of an ABM strategy provides organizations who choose to implement it?

Marketing is always in this, again, fight for relevance and we have great opportunities to establish it. Account-based marketing is one because our sales organization is, as we like it to be, very coin-operated. They have a very strong focus on their customers, delivering profitability to their quota – the customer satisfaction that the company requires for them to be successful. Everything else is a means to an end.

So, even though we get excited about marketing technology and marketing reports and how many eyeballs we get on things, sales people couldn’t care less unless it makes their job of serving their customers easier. So, ABM makes that a much simpler discussion because we don’t run to them with colorful charts and upward looking trends. We go to them when we find something that’s happening in their particular account that is a commercial insight. Then we’ll bring a marketing person to understand what we have available and tweak it and fine tune it to really position them better with their account.

So when they see that logo of their account in front of them, and they see the executives that they’re trying to sell into, and the intelligence and the marketing tactics that we’ll bring to the table that are relevant to that particular account, their eyes light up.  And all of a sudden, marketing is a lot more relevant than ever before.

That’s the true value of doing account-based marketing. It’s the right thing to do for the business but it is also best relationship builder ever between sales and marketing.

What type of investment are you making in ABM?

Our investment in account-based marketing is two-fold: one part is technology and the other is human capital. With technology, we have a pretty substantial digital marketing ecosystem, but our sales staff is pretty allergic to new tools right now. It is enough for them to get in Salesforce and put their forecast in, so we didn’t want to really burden them with yet another way to consume information. We really wanted to put a platform together that gathers information, but serves almost like a concierge service to alert them to the information when and if it’s relevant.

So this platform that we have built with a partner takes both human and machine intelligence. We all know there are all kinds of fantastic tools that are great.  The internet is great.  Social media in particular is great for figuring out what is going on in a particular account and even within that account, what’s specific executives are doing and talking about.

But combining the machine intelligence with human intelligence is the real difference maker.  We have what we call insight engineers who are folks in low cost locations that are given seven to 10 accounts each.  They wake up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about those accounts and any information they find on their accounts, they put that in the platform.

How do you ensure that the information in the platform is relevant for your sales teams?

Because we also have a human bridge between the platform, the insight engineers, as well as the technology and the sales teams.  This human bridge is actually a team of account-based marketing practitioners who we refer to as ABMers.  They sit alongside the sales organization in planning, strategy and they have all their account details.  They know what their team is trying to sell into a particular account.  They know the impediments in selling.  They know who the decision makers are.  They have context.

So when the information comes in from the insight engineer as well as the machine intelligence, these folks play a great filter role.  That way we only find they have moments that are relevant to the sales organization. Overall, we cut the meat in little pieces and make it very digestible so that we don’t overwhelm sales with everything and anything that happens in an account and make them make sense of it.  We put it in context.  We filter it.  And we deliver it in a platform that’s easy to get to.

And once sales gets the insight, we have further intelligence where we can pull in the relevant solutions to sell or cross-sell and make it ready for them to take to their customer.  That is what we call the ABM platform.  And again, it’s part of our overall ABM program.

Account-based marketing is not for everybody.  This is for the most important accounts, for the top tier on the pyramid.  Also, it is not for everyone as it requires sales to give us access to their thinking, to their account plan, and their account strategy. Otherwise, it doesn’t work as we don’t get the context we need. So it’s a give to get, they get this only if they give us access.

You can view Part 2 of Mktr2Mktr’s interview with Nick here.


Tech Marketer Talks is an ongoing feature on Mktr2Mktr where we sit down with technology marketers and industry experts to explore their initiatives, outlook, and approach to marketing.

Account-Based Marketing, CSC, Intelligence Driven Marketing, Nick Panayi, sales and marketing alignment, sales and marketing strategies, Tech Marketer Talks

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