Building the Account-Based Marketing Category: Interview with Nick Mehta

May 29, 2016 Sangram Vajre

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, knows exactly what it takes to create and grow a new category like account-based marketing. I have experienced firsthand exactly what it takes to build a new category by trying to generate awareness for #ABM. Nick Mehta is going through the same exciting process with the customer success category. Not only has he created the customer success category that his company thrives off of, he is also one of the main influencers helping the category flourish. Being such a young company, Gainsight is successfully creating a huge buzz on the customer success category and I wanted to know exactly how he is doing it and how it differs from the rise of account-based marketing. His secret behind the growth is using Pulse (Gainsight’s annual conference) as a way to spread awareness and advocate the customer success category.

I recently had the privilege to catch up with Nick on a Google Hangout where he offered some stellar insights on his strategy for building a new category using a relatively new company. Before we hear his tips, let’s get to know him a little bit better.

Favorite book and movie? “I’m a science geek, so I will definitely have to go with The Dark Knight as my favorite movie. One year I plan to have Christopher Nolan at the Pulse and that’s when I will know that I have made it. On the book side, I’m kind of obsessed with quantum mechanics, so my favorite book is Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. The book somehow makes science really relatable, I highly recommend it.”

Who are some people you want to give a shoutout to? “There are so many inspirations everywhere, it is really amazing how much you can learn from anyone. But I would say someone that I have learned a lot from is Tien Tzuo, the CEO of Zuora. He is a really intelligent guy and I really appreciate all of the advice that he has given me. Also, someone that I learn a lot from is Eoghan McCabe, the CEO of Intercom.”

If you weren’t leading the charge to customer success, what would you do? ” Well, being an Indian-American, my mom wanted me to become a doctor and still to this day she would want me to go to medical school. But my heart would probably love to do some combination of something in science and philosophy.”

Check out the full interview here:

Here are some of my favorite moments from our interview:
Gainsight’s Growth Engine
At Terminus, we use #FlipMyFunnel conferences as a way to generate buzz on account-based marketing, I wondered if Gainsight used their annual conference as their growth engine to fuel their new category. Pulse, Gainsight’s annual conference, recently completed their 4th annual year, with their being by far their best year yet.  The conference attendance nearly doubles each year, bringing in 3,200 attendees this year.

“Growth is great for any new company, but the feeling of having a successful event is even better. People in customer success are awesome and seeing everyone come together to collaborate towards customer success is a great feeling.”

When I asked about the difference in account-based marketing’s growth engine and customer success’ growth engine, Nick had this to say:

“Whether or not this is our growth engine is a tough question to answer. As a business, Gainsight has a different way of thinking about goals overall. Most companies have a bottom line or end result that they are always striving for. We care about those things, but that is just one of our main values. Another of our main values is the success for all; meaning success for customers, employees, employees’ families, communities, and our investors. Things like pulse do drive growth and business results, but it’s just part of what we do. It drives customer success in the community and we really enjoy the idea of connecting people and connecting the community.”

“We have to make customer success successful and we have to make sure that people want to work in this field and this conference does that for us.”

The people in customer success are great & bringing them together with #Pulse is even better”…
Click To Tweet

3 Tips To Building A New Category

Account-based marketing is a fairly young category, so I am familiar with the steps created to make account-based marketing thrive. I asked Nick what his top tips to build a new category were and realized that these tips are not much different than those used to create account-based marketing. These are his top 3 tips that have helped him expand the customer success category:
1. You have to respect that any idea and category you have isn’t truly new, it is an evolution. Customer success is a new term but it is an evolution of lots of other concepts.
2. You have to understand you didn’t create the idea. To be successful, you must respect the people that did it before you. Early SaaS companies pioneered the term “customer success,” so you need to respect the people that did it before you.
3. Think about the people first and the technology second. Creating a category puts more of an emphasis on the human side of things than any other type of business activity. It is hard to replace in-person connections.

To be successful, you must respect the people that did it before you.” @nrmehta @Terminus #ABM #CS
Click To Tweet

Double Down on Your Strengths

With Pulse being such a successful event, I wondered if Gainsight did other events throughout the year to expand the customer success category. To my surprise, the company does around 100 events per year, including Pulse, the European version of Pulse, breakfasts and lunches, and many other conference road shows.

“Once you find something that works, double down on it. We happen to be really good at getting people together. Some people can’t travel much, so you have to think about how to bring the show to them. You also want to build a persistent network because some of the biggest things are the things that happen after the event. You create a bond between lots of people who will continue to network together and your event lives on. We’ll be doing more events going forward.”

Tip for growing a category: “Once you find something that works, double down on it” @nrmehta…
Click To Tweet

Size Doesn’t Actually Matter
If you have ever attended one of Gainsight’s events, you too would think that their marketing team must be more of a marketing army. The multi-day conference is an amazing experience, with really awesome speakers, requiring an abundance of people to put together such an event. Again to my surprise, Nick revealed that his marketing team is made up of only 10 people.

“Last year at Pulse, when we had 2000 people, we had a four-person marketing team. The culture of the company is uniquely mission-driven around our overall vision. All of our employees, marketing or not, rally around the needs of Pulse and the customers. Events like this make your employees more motivated. People think that these events are put on by a big company, so we have to live up to it and feel like a huge company.”

At Terminus, our marketing team is currently a seven-person team. With all of the recent buzz about account-based marketing, our team is on top of all the account-based marketing content circling around the web. While a large team can be helpful, a small team with a focused mindset can be more impactful. Size doesn’t actually matter.

“Events like #Pulse make your employees more motivated.” @nrmehta @terminus
Click To Tweet

Nick is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to customer success and creating a new category. We’re thrilled he’ll be joining us at the #FlipMyFunnel Festival in Austin on June 7! Register to attend below.

#FlipMyFunnel Austin

The post Building the Account-Based Marketing Category: Interview with Nick Mehta appeared first on Terminus.

Top 10 Moments from the 2016 SiriusDecisions #SDSummit
Top 10 Moments from the 2016 SiriusDecisions #SDSummit

This was my first-ever time attending the SiriusDecisions #SDSummit, and I was absolutely amazed. There was...

The Top 40 Account-Based Marketing Superheroes
The Top 40 Account-Based Marketing Superheroes

Meet the Account-Based Marketing Superheroes! Here’s a glimpse at a few B2B marketing mavens in the ABM wor...