Digital Marketing

Break Free B2B Marketing: Lisa Sharapata of 6sense on the End of the MQL

Lisa Sharapata from 6sense

Lisa Sharapata from 6sense

What do we mean when we talk about a transformation in marketing?

Let me put it this way. The switch from horses to cars was a transformation. It was a fundamental rethinking of the way that humans move. We went from, “Find an animal that can go further and faster than you can and ride on it,” to “Burn fuel and use the energy to turn a motor that transfers the power to wheels.”

Every improvement since then — from V8 engines to power steering — has just been an iteration on the theme. A little faster, a little more efficient, a little safer, but iteration, not transformation.

Marketers are fantastic at iteration. It’s part of the job! We’re great at A/B testing, optimization, and continuous improvement. But at the heart of it, a lot of us are still working with a souped-up version of the same old tactics we’ve always used. Yes, we’ve gone digital. Yes, we’ve automated X and Y and we’re on Z and W channels. But we’re not inventing the engine; we’re just breeding faster horses.

That’s why I get excited when I see something genuinely novel in our profession. And Lisa Sharapata and her colleagues at 6sense have the goods. 

We had the privilege of interviewing Lisa during B2BMX, and she discussed some big ideas that we’re still wrapping our heads around. The death of the MQL. The “dark funnel.” It’s nothing less than a fundamental rethinking of the theory and practice of marketing, one that brings together sales and marketing and refocuses both around revenue.

“When we say, ‘we’re gonna give you this amount of pipeline, we’re gonna generate this amount of revenue,’ and we can actually see it coming and help deliver it in a predictable way, they are never going to want to go back to a #MQL… Click To Tweet

You can watch our full interview with Lisa below, or listen to the podcast version (and don’t forget to subscribe). Scroll down past the embeds for a few highlights from the conversation.

Break Free B2B Interview with Lisa Sharapata

Timeline and Highlights

1:00 Account engagement platforms and the dark funnel

4:30 The role of the BDR for inbound marketing

6:00 Sales and marketing: Together at last

7:15 Content strategy & SEO in dynamic marketing

10:15 Engagement is the new oil, but are we ready to drill?

15:30 The end of MQLs


Lisa: We’ll create a segment based on our ICP, our ideal customer profile and keywords, depending on how we want to set it up, what they’re searching for, what stage they’re in. 

We have multiple different campaigns running all the time and it’s dynamic, so we’re seeing what these groups are searching. And they’re in consideration right now, so we’re gonna run this type of content and this type of display to them. 

And then lo and behold, they’re starting to engage. More and more people are engaging, more of them have come to our website, they’re now familiar with us, so we’re gonna change up the content. And it’s all dynamic and running based on how we’ve set the segments up to run and what content we’ve set up to target those accounts. 

So it moves dynamically, as they shift what they’re doing, we can do all that from our platform. And then on the flip side this all feeds into Salesforce and you see this, basically this map and timeline of everything that’s happening. We have a persona map that fills out this grid and you can see in your targets who’s doing what, green, yellow, red, who’s engaged who’s not, who do you need to engage, who clicked on what, when, what keyword did they search for, what brought them to your website, what pages did they go to. 

You can look at all this information, but then it’s also aggregating that and turning it into data that you can use to say, “Here’s the next best action, here’s someone in that account that is probably a key decision-maker, that you should buy their contact information”. So it’s like this whole 360 of what you do with that account.

Susan: That’s awesome. Okay so the technology is obviously extremely strong, but it can’t be done without humans.

Lisa: very true, very true. Like you can see my I love BDR t-shirt, we actually declared this week BDR appreciation week. I kind of started from the marketing background because that’s my background, but a salesperson comes in, they have a dashboard in the morning telling them here’s the accounts that are hot, here’s the ones that are engaging, here’s the ones that you should go after today and here’s now what you should do and it breaks it down into next best actions.

And typically that would be a BDR or SDR role, that needs to figure out “Okay, I’m gonna make a video for them and send them as email, what should I talk to them about? Okay they were searching these keywords, so they must be interested and have this problem, here’s how I can offer value.” 

Instead of just the shot in the dark like guessing, hoping that they’re saying the right thing, or just spraying as many emails out there, phone calls as they can make in a day. We’re getting really strategic and helping them and it takes all the legwork out too, like they don’t have to spend thirds of their day doing research, it cuts that way down so that they have it all their fingertips and then they can just start taking action when they come in in the morning.

Susan: so then do the BDR’s love marketing? 

Lisa: So, I have never in my career, been in an organization where sales and marketing work hand in hand, I mean it’s truly a night and day difference, because first of all we agree on “Here’s the best accounts”, because you can see what they’re doing in the dark funnel, you know they are in my ideal customer profile but they’re also in market. They’re in market, before they even come inbound, we know they’re in market. So sales loves marketing and marketing loves sales, because we are working together toward the same goal now.

Susan: Okay can we get back to the MQL’s? Because you have declared 2020 as the year of no MQL’s, so to sales execs, senior execs that sometimes can mean no accountability. 

Lisa: Yeah, so I mean here’s the thing: If you talk to most sales execs and you ask them “How valuable do you think the MQL’s really are?” and “How often do they turn into an SQL?” and “When marketing says they’re gonna give you this many MQL’s, how meaningful is that truly to you?” Most of the time they’re like “Yeah, marketing is gonna throw these scans from their event over the fence and tell us to work on them.” 

And they don’t really put a lot of value in them. But when we say we’re gonna give you this amount of pipeline, we’re gonna generate this amount of revenue, and we can start to show that predictability, in saying this is what of your accounts are in market right now, that is worth this amount of pipeline to you and we can actually see it coming and help deliver it in a predictable way.. I’ll tell you what, they are never going to want to go back to a MQL again. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite: