Startup Spotlight Growth Series: XANT

March 26, 2021

James Birdsall

LinkedIn Marketing can play an important role for B2B startups looking to scale. But what are the learnings and strategies fueling their growth? We’re excited to help answer this question with our Growth Series — an inside look at startup marketers’ approach to successful growth. As your team builds your own marketing strategy, the perspectives shared here will help you optimize, learn, and grow faster.

In this installment of our Growth Series, we’ve interviewed XANT’s Demand Generation Manager, James Birdsall.

LinkedIn: In a sentence, tell us about XANT. What is a fun fact about XANT that we wouldn’t find on your LinkedIn Page or website?

James Birdsall: XANT offers sales engagement software that manages lead follow-up and cadences, automates tasks, and uses data to predict who, when, and how to engage buyers for the best outcome. XANT comes from the second half of the word cognisant meaning to make one aware. 

LI: What does growth mean to your team? How does your team measure growth?

James: Growth is all about being agile and adapting to the ever-evolving marketing landscape. Growth marketing is grounded in experimenting and iterating to drive key business metrics. It takes a mix of creativity, risk, and grit to successfully carry out significant growth. Our team maintains the tried and true methods while also setting aside time and resources toward new efforts that drive growth. Ultimately, all efforts are measured by whether they assisted in generating pipeline.  

LI: What’s something you wish you knew when first getting started with your paid growth strategy?

James: Growth isn’t just about generating leads. Yes, there are important metrics like CTR and CPL that need to be optimized but there’s so much more to manage. A good marketer generates a lot of good leads at a good price. A demand marketer does that AND works closely with sales leaders to ensure success as those leads progress down funnel. This means sitting in on demo calls, being involved in weekly sales meetings, and regularly training sales reps on any new or existing marketing programs.  

LI: How did your team identify and optimize your ICP's buyer’s journey? 

James: This has been a cool, and challenging, problem for us to solve over the past 12 months. In 2019, one could easily assume that an inside sales manager or rev ops director was in the office every day. Now, everyone is remote and we no longer have that luxury. We’ve had to embrace the digital experience and arm our prospects with information for each stage of the funnel. This has required us to ungate more of our content to make it easier to consume. It’s helped us refocus on testing and pushed us to be more prescriptive on the content we produce to make sure that it fits properly within the overall journey. 

LI: What key adjustments have you made to your growth strategy over time and what impact did these have on results?

James: One of the biggest adjustments that we’ve been implementing is a focus on targeting intent audiences using third-party data partners. We’ve found that by integrating this data into our ad targeting, sales reps are having conversations with those that are actually raising their hands. Since so much of the product education cycle is self-directed, intent targeting has allowed us to get the right messaging seen by the right people at each stage of the funnel. This effort has allowed us to create an intentional journey all the way from awareness to purchase.

LI: How do you achieve and measure successful alignment between sales and marketing?

James: First of all, visibility. We’ve found that a unified dashboard that shows all teams’ metrics for all to see not only keeps everyone accountable but also creates momentum within the organization as people hit their numbers. It’s also important to be realistic with the numbers each team owns. What is SDR capacity? Can marketing consistently deliver leads without too many peaks and valleys? What are your conversion rates throughout the funnel? What SLAs are established for each team? Open discussion and ongoing review of each of these topics is critical to an aligned organization. Lastly, proximity. Prior to the pandemic, we physically sat just a few feet away from the sales team and established great relationships with each rep and sales leader. In a remote world, this has taken the form of Zoom lunches as well as allowing more time in meetings for casual conversation. There is no substitute for establishing good rapport and developing strong relationships.

LI: How does content marketing fuel your lead gen strategy?

James: Good content is the lifeblood of lead gen. Without developing relevant, interesting content, lead gen doesn’t happen. We work closely with our content team to identify opportunities that deliver the best information for highly sought-after topics, as well as thought leadership topics that should be top of mind.

LI: What type of content have you seen perform well on LinkedIn?

James: You can’t go wrong with primary research. XANT has access to a huge dataset of sales activities from more than 400 B2B companies that is a gold mine for sales insights. We’ve found that original research on relevant topics yields the lowest costs and builds the strongest pipeline. That’s in large part because the content provides actionable insights that teams can actually use to be more successful.

LI: What tools or resources do you use to plan and execute your content marketing strategy?  

James: One of the best assets for marketing at any company is the customer. Our customers are a gold mine for insights. A quick interview with a customer can yield weeks, even months, of content. Second to our customers is our sales team. Recorded demo calls, regular meetings with account executives, and an ever-evolving document from our sales team gives us insight into the subjects our prospects and customers care about.

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