Hope For The Best By Preparing For The Worst: BNZSA Examines The Five Key Trends For ITDMs For 2023 And Beyond.

As we enter the last few days of 2022 it is a customary tradition to do a bit of navel gazing about what the next year will hold for the IT Market and what hot topics will keep ITDMs awake at night next year.

As we end what has been for many, a rollercoaster of a year, there seems to be plenty of things that will cause a few sleepless nights in the months ahead!

Therefore, it is important to identify and adapt to these trends in a world that has had a perpetual round of shocks in the last decade that in more recent times has seen: a global pandemic, inflation, global supply chain issues, energy and food crises and latterly geopolitical instability through war. There are also many concerns over increasingly sophisticated criminal and state sponsored cyber-attacks. 

With another global recession on the horizon, it is more essential than ever to have the best and most actionable data, combined with continued investment in employee and customer value propositions, in order to ride the wave of these uncertain times.

In the first of this two-part piece, BNZSA will identify the key trends and challenges in the market for 2023 and beyond.

1. Hybrid Infrastructure

Many commentators have been tracking the long-lasting implications of Covid on the workplace and what knock-on effects it has had on the provision of IT services and employee working practices. While the race to look for more collaborative technologies during lockdowns and social distancing measures was a necessary first response to a natural disaster, most industry watchers believe that hybrid and remote working will continue after the pandemic.

In November 2022, a YouGov study on behalf of IT service and consultants NSC noted “… organisations should expect this to be a permanent and persistent pattern in their workplace and to prepare for this long-term shift.”

It also believes that this paradigm shift is the ‘new norm’ and that increasingly companies will move to a ‘distributed enterprise.’ The report also noted that the global market for IT and business services grew 29% to $84.2 billion in 2021 as businesses reviewed and implemented new technology to improve “overall long-term business resilience.”

In order to fully utilise hybrid-infrastructure, ITDMs must factor in the following trends. With opportunity, comes potential challenges and risks, which if not fully planned for may bring some nasty surprises along the way.

2. Modern Workplace

The knock-on effect of the long period of remote working is that many employees now associated office-based jobs with an unnecessary and expensive commute on backed up highways and overburdened public transport networks.

Whereas hybrid and remote ways of working offer more flexibility, productivity and time to be with family. Many workers have decided that going forward they want to work for companies that will offer remote or hybrid working, according to analyst Gartner.

It found that nearly half of employees surveyed wanted to work for companies that offered more hybrid work and latterly shorter working weeks. It also stated that the “employee value proposition must change for hybrid work and respond to shifts in employee expectations”

In its report, Gartner has identified these key future work trends:

In conclusion, Gartner believes because the ongoing transformation in the way knowledge workers work, the move to hybrid working will prove great opportunities for companies. However, it will also provide potential risks such as increased exposure to cyberattacks, which we will examine below.

Other factors such as the way companies have traditionally  procured and managed hardware look likely to change as demands for more bring (or use) your own devices (BYOD) grows and the demand of  purchasing more mobile devices rather than traditional desktop devices grows.

Break fix services will also be a consideration for the future in terms of maintaining, services and replacing devices. And with a growing need for employees to monitor activity and productivity of remote staff, there looks likely to be some concerns about how much data companies are holding on employees, how it is processed and other concerns that ITDMs will have to manage as part of ongoing privacy policies.

3. Digital Transformation

While YouGov/NSC found, in a survey of 263 business executives, that 79% of respondents had a digital transformation plan in place, almost half cited that legacy technology as a key constraint. Many are now looking to cloud migration or companies that offer as-a-service solutions, to not only help with their digital transformation plans, but to also maintain solid customer value propositions and customer experience.

To this end, YouGov predicts that demand for as-as-service offerings will rise. And this can also mean how companies hire staff. According to Gartner, in looming recessionary times functional leaders must get “recession ready.” And this means being agile in securing talent.

For BNZSA’s clients, the demand for BDRs-as-a-service and SDRs-as-a-service also looks set to rise in 2023 and beyond as companies look to backfill existing shortages or look to grow pipelines and closed won revenue by adding instant ‘virtual’ resources at a fraction of the cost of traditional FTEs.

During the pandemic, a lot of the traditional face-to-face (F2F) ways to educate potential customers on IT products and solutions and generate sales pipeline such as conferences and events were put on hold. In turn, this has accelerated many companies to look to digital solutions and social platforms to educate and also for lead generation provision.

While it is universally accepted that ‘content is the backbone of any buyer journey or customer experience. Analyst company Forrester notes that currently marketeers must catch up on critical skills to ensure content will deliver its ‘intended impact’. It also notes that having a pre-pandemic approach to content provision and content syndication in an increasingly sophisticated digital landscape will not yield the results or ROI that marketeers and sales people expect. While we may have to wait for the Metaverse or some similar virtual reality platform to interact with brands, there are plenty of smarter ways for companies to use content on current digital platforms.

To this end Forrester advises five important focus areas for content provision, effective digital campaigns and providing the right content to the right people at the right time:

As we approach 2023, it seems that while most companies may claim they have a digital transformation in place, it may be hindered by a number of factors that need to be addressed and fixed.

If for example, legacy hardware is the reason why cloud migrations and as-a-service provision is faltering, looking to companies that provide managed services and have the necessary infrastructure in place could be a short-term solution to allow ITDMs and marketeers to focus on other areas of the business that need to be fixed such as content.

Like managed service providers, there are a number of agencies like BNZSA that can not only create the content for your campaigns but also manage both the awareness and the generation of marketing qualified and sales ready opportunities.

4. Cloud Computing

While the migration from on premise infrastructure to cloud computing has been happening the enterprise for some time, it is quickly becoming a top priority for the mid-size market. According to YouGov/NSC, it found that: “in 2021, cloud spending by small and midsized businesses shot up significantly, with as many as 53% spending more than $1.2 million annually on the cloud - up from 38% in 2020”.

It also states that companies are increasingly looking for cloud-based solutions “to keep up with digital transformation and ensure remote workers have what they need to stay productive”.

Considering the above trends and challenges of modern workplace, hybrid computing and digital transformation, it is small wonder that YoGov/NSC found that execs from all sizes of companies ranked cloud services between 80-93% as the most important technology for their business post Covid.

In terms of best practice around cloud migration, there is a whole range of advice around whether to ‘lift and shift’-migrating existing architecture to cloud-based services, ‘refactor’ or fully refactor, according to AWS cloud migration partner Cloud Bridge that notes

“In our experience, there is no ‘right’ way. The key decision is whether to modernise as you move, or afterwards.”

5. Cyber Security

With the move to more hybrid and remote working combined with the growth of using more “as-a-service” offerings by cloud migration and outsourced human resources is creating more security threats for both enterprise and mid-size companies.

The holiday period is also a prime time for cyberattacks according to managed services provider, Transputec that warns:

"The main issue with cybersecurity over Christmas is that many organisations are severely understaffed during this time. Employees are often underprepared when the cyberattack takes place, and even struggle to deal with recovering from the damages done after the cyberattack. Detection and response times are much higher in Christmas than any other time of year as a result."

"Cyberattacks are more prevalent since organisations just don’t have the defences in place to deal with the numerous forms of cyberattacks. In particular, ransomware attacks increased by 70% during the holiday period of 2021."

According to Transputec, as well as raising awareness of cyberattacks over the holidays with staff and running compliance courses, it is also important to add things like multi-factor authentication to accounts and devices:

“This will provide an additional layer of security that makes it more difficult for cyber-attackers to bypass. Cyber-attackers have often been able to guess or steal passwords. Having multi-factor authentication helps your organisation become less susceptible to social engineering.”

Going forward into 2023, YouGov/NSC notes that “67% of the C-suite see the single biggest "headache", with technology today, as Cybersecurity.”

While Analyst Gartner also notes that for audit departments, executives see Cyber threats as a growing risk in 2023.

“Fewer than half (42%) of audit executives are highly confident they can provide assurance over cybersecurity risk — although 81% plan to cover cybersecurity in audit activities. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting geopolitical hostility could lead to increased cyberthreats. Even before war broke out, organizations believed that actors sponsored by the Russian government targeted them.”

However, there are certainly solutions. Having a strategy and backup in place to deal with cyberattacks is crucial concludes Transputec that observes:

“Since cyberattacks are more common during the Christmas season, it’s also important to have backups of your data in the case of a successful cyberattack. With cloud computing being commonly used, having a physical backup of your data could be a life-saver”.

Stay tuned for part two where we will offer some tips and advice from our internal experts, clients and ITDMs, using real world examples on how to adapt for these challenges.

BNZSA Spotlight

Virtual Teams: The solution to BDR burnout and the Great Resignation

YouGov recently surveyed two thousand workers for recruitment website, TotalJobs. The results showed that more than 75% of participants had experienced at least one symptom of burnout this year. Two fifths of respondents cited unrealistic workloads as one of the biggest causes of burnout. 

Many sectors such as travel and leisure, which were hit hard by the pandemic are now facing staff shortages. However, there is also currently a record number of vacancies in sales and marketing. According to GrabJobs, roles within sales and marketing are some of the most in demand positions in the UK in 2022.    

Adding to the strain is what is referred to as “The Great Resignation”. Workers are deciding to quit or not to return to their jobs as the working conditions provided pre-Covid crisis are no longer appealing to them. Instead, people are now looking for companies who are more mindful of their needs and who respect their work/life balance. Companies providing benefits such as remote working, better pay and better career opportunities are now more competitive as employers.  

Sales teams within the technology and software sectors have been acutely affected by the Great Resignation, with voluntary sales departures reaching 67%, according to figures from Xactly.  

Challenges affecting in house BDR management: 

When considering the role and responsibilities of a BDR, the above challenges are compounded by an elevated level of burnout. A BDR position can easily be considered one of the hardest roles in sales as they face a high level of rejection daily, no matter how good they are at their job. Despite receiving compensation in the form of commission, the pressure can affect their mental health and lead to burnout. Some of the aspects adding to this high level of employee turnover and burnout are: 

Cost of Living:

With sharp rises in energy costs and geopolitical factors, 2022 has seen the cost of living rise steeply. As a result, workers are not just seeking out the most competitive employer for salary, they are more mindful of those that can provide benefits and working conditions that are more inclusive of their personal needs, such as remote working and flexible work schedules.  
There is also a pressure on BDRs to perform, hit quotas and achieve KPIs on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Although they are compensated for this work, missing targets and therefore losing commission can cause added financial strain. 


During the pandemic, many workers faced with layoffs and uncertainty saw the time as an opportunity to reflect on their career path and their passions in life, with many deciding to pursue other opportunities outside of sales. 

Staff shortages:

As more workers change positions, the gap left in sales and marketing roles means BDRs are tasked with carrying an even greater workload to compensate for being short staffed, adding to the pressure to perform in their role. A higher-level of stress is key factor in BDR burnout.  

Unrealistic workload:

 Compounded by a high churn rate, BDRs are facing an unmanageable workload which can also negatively impact their mental health and add to burnout. According to BNZSA research, a BDR will have to simultaneously manage 1000s of contacts in a 12-month sales cycle. Tasked with outbound calling, trawling databases, coordinating with marketing and data teams, as well as handling inbound requests from various sources, BDRs can often struggle to prioritise their workload efficiently. 

Friction between teams:

Technology and automation to define workflows for lead follow-up are often chaotic and unmanageable. If processes to manage workflows are not clearly defined, this can lead to friction between BDR teams and Sales and Marketing. 

BDR Burnout is caused by a combination of the Cost of Living Crisis, high turnover in sales and marketing positions and a greater workload in a high pressure environment.
There are many factors which contribute to BDR burnout.

Virtual Teams as a solution: 

Designed to be an extension of your in-house team, rather than a replacement, BNZSA Virtual Teams is a ready-made solution. It is intended to not only enhance the functions of in-house teams, but also give instant resources, multi-lingual support and credible and compliant opportunities that are more mature in the sales cycle. 

Instead of hiring, training and paying for holidays and local taxation, customers only pay for the time of BNZSA's BDRs. They are virtual only in the sense that they are full time BNZSA employees but use an email domain and call on behalf of the client.  

BNZSA’s Virtual Team of BDRs and marketing executives provide our customers with end-to-end lead generation services including profiling accounts, following up on digital activity, qualifying leads, identifying decision makers, and buying committees which is key for companies wanting an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. Costing of Virtual Teams is via a subscription-based Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) solution, rather than a traditional cost-per-lead (CPL) model. 

Virtual Teams have access to BNZSA's own technology stack, as well as the support of our data science team and newly formed decision science practice. This allows BNZSA to do a lot of the heavy lifting for our clients when it comes to providing high quality, sales ready leads. 

Using a Virtual Team has many benefits which can enhance your B2B lead generation strategy
Virtual Teams are an extension of your BDR resources - not a replacement.

Benefits of using Virtual Teams: 

Enhanced B2B Lead Generation:

Extend and enhance your lead generation efforts with our fully ramped and trained teams. We deliver high-quality, warm leads with our trademarked Warm HandoverTM process, developed specifically to increase conversion rates of the leads we deliver. BNZSA’s BDR will orchestrate a three-way call between themselves, the prospect, and a sales rep, allowing for a direct introduction. This allows for a smoother customer experience for the prospect, and a much more efficient use of time for the sales rep. 

Dedicated BDR Team:

With a BNZSA Virtual Team, they will function as an extension of your in-house BDR team, rather than as a replacement. Our process ensures consistent communication between our agents and your sales rep, creating an environment for constructive feedback, improving the quality of opportunities we deliver. They will be fully dedicated to customer campaigns. They will contact and qualify prospects on their behalf and be an expert in our client's products and services.  

Technical Training and Support:

Our highly experienced technical coaches are on hand to provide support to your team, adding instant quality and experience to your infrastructure. Our agents receive continuous training and guidance throughout campaigns, guaranteeing high quality leads.  

Localise in New Markets:

BNZSA can provide multi-lingual support with native speakers in over 26 different languages. This means our customers can expand their international lead generation strategy, and localise their messaging across EMEA, APAC and US markets. 

Flexible BDR Resources:

As BNZSA can adjust and rotate our resources based on clients’ needs, meaning a B2B campaign will not be slowed down because of sickness, holidays or other absences. 

Quality Data Sources:

Clients have access to BNZSA’s data services comprising of first party intent data, second- and third-party data, as well as support from our Data Science and Decision Science Teams, adding valuable insights to your B2B marketing strategy. 


 BNZSA is positioned to ramp your lead generation efforts quickly and efficiently with our Virtual Team offering. The Warm Handover (WHOTM) process has a 70% lead-to-conversion rate. With access to almost a decade worth of our own first-party intent data, along with the support of our Data Science and Decision Science teams, BNZSA have the resources to expand pipeline generation. BNZSA works with leading IT providers, with a 95% client retention rate. Get in touch today to discuss how we can add value to your B2B marketing strategy. 

Trends in IT buying: PC fleet

Desktop computers still occupy large percentages of corporate inventories, despite surge in laptop sales in 2021 

BNZSA’s team of business development representatives (BDRs) are out in the market talking to IT buyers worldwide every single day. And with native speakers of 25 languages, we touch pretty much every geographical region in the world.  

Periodically, our BDRs conduct our own desk research that we feedback to clients and use for our demand generation campaigns and market intelligence gathering.  

In our latest study, we interviewed over 4,300 IT decision makers about their computing needs and how they’ve changed over the past couple of years. Unsurprisingly, we learned that the vast majority of companies are investing heavily in laptops and preparing for a future where hybrid working is the new normality.   

Inphography computers fleet bnzsa

However, we also found that although demand for laptops was strong in 2021, overall, it seems that many companies still retain a strong percentage of desktops within their fleet: our survey found an average split of 36% laptops to 64% desktops in their computer manifests.  

With such a high number of desktops still in circulation, we were interested to find out to what extent the laptop buying trend would continue in 2022, especially with other trends like the roll out of Windows 11 from Microsoft and new vPRO processors and platforms from Intel. 

2021: Despite pandemic businesses continued to invest in their PC inventory 

In the course of 2021, we saw a huge rise in large refreshes, in stark contrast to 2020 where many businesses froze or slowed their PC purchases.   

Inphography computers companies bnzsa

The bigger the company, the more machines were replaced in absolute terms. Our data also showed that larger companies with over 1000 devices had replaced up to 2% of their whole fleet in 2021.   

In contrast we found that proportional refreshes were far bigger at the other end of the spectrum. Our survey found that 22% of smaller companies (below 100 employees) were refreshing more than 50% of their machines.  

In terms of budgets, we found that spend increased across all sectors from 2020-21, especially at the top end. In 2020, projects with a value of over $100,000 made up just 3.68% of the total, whilst in 2021 they increased 185% to 10.48%.   

Not surprisingly, given the worldwide challenges in the sector, the biggest change in spend  was in Healthcare, where high value projects made up just 1.2% of the total in 2020, and rocketed almost 1500% to 18.58% in 2021.   

Inphography computers fleet healthcare bnzsa

Our predictions for 2022: major projects for desktop replacement will continue 

The PC inventory refresh will continue – swapping desktops for laptops  

Major refreshes will continue into 2022. Whilst SMBs clearly made large investments in 2021, the enterprise level companies clearly have a need to keep marching on with the desktop-to-laptop transition. It may also be interesting to see if other devices, especially lightweight tablets, become more common in business settings.   

More focus on accessories to support home working  

Many of us will recognise the toll that long-term home working is taking on our posture, eyesight and more. Monitors, keyboards and other accessories could become an important part of PC refresh agreements.  

“Green Tech” Recycling and donation schemes for desktops  

With so many surplus desktops being retired before reaching the end of their lifecycle, it seems imperative that the market finds innovative solutions to ensure that they can be recycled or donated. Whilst some OEMs and resellers do already include this as part of their agreements, we predict this becoming more mainstream in the year ahead, especially as there is a growing shortage of rare earth elements that are vital for electronics. 

BNZSA Research regularly conducts unique qualitative and quantitate research on behalf of our customers in order for them to learn and respond to market tends and user feedback. This piece is the first in a regular series of research pieces we will be sharing to our community on our website. If you have any topic areas you would like us to research then please do get in touch!

Opportunity Finder – the Missing Link for IT B2B Sales and Marketing

I spoke with Saurabh Rastogi, Chief Product Officer, to find out more about BNZSA's new offering, Opportunity Finder.

Opportunity Finder will be the first and only product in the industry that will provide opportunity data at scale. This delivers a far quicker route to closed business by providing actionable middle of the funnel account insights as opposed to much earlier stage conventional intent, firmographic and technographic detail. Opportunity Finder is possible through the unique combination of the best digitally sourced data available with local language phone verified focussed opportunity insight. Only BNZSA has the data heritage and the BDR capability to make this happen.

Opportunity Finder is under development and is expected to be available in 2022.

How did BNZSA think of a Product to deliver opportunities for Sales and Marketing?

There is a gap in the market for middle of the funnel opportunity insights, delivered at scale, through a product that you can easily access on the web or on mobile. While top of the funnel intent, technographic and firmographic based segmentation is readily available, a lot has to be done to this, to generate actual opportunities. All of this data is sourced digitally which is great for coverage, scale and cost but leaves out critical context and opportunity defining detail, which can only be captured by talking to the right people in each account. Until now this has not been possible to do cost effectively as it’s expensive and organisationally challenging to set up.

At BNZSA, we can uniquely combine data expertise (leveraging the best available complimentary data sources) with a special local language data team that calls into each account to collect and maintain opportunity insights by department. No one else can do this. The local language capability is the reason why so many data and digital vendors use BNZSA for person-based lead generation.

What’s new and unique about Opportunity Finder?

This is the first middle of the funnel opportunity data solution in the business, designed to increase sales and marketing effectiveness. Nothing else is available that provides accounts which are so close to become opportunities. Only BNZSA can do this as we have the most complete data combined with local language calling capability. Other data vendors have expressed strong interest in Opportunity Finder output as it adds the person-collected contextual information and opportunity validation to their digitally sourced data.

Opportunity Finder is unique as it provides the shortest route to opportunities in the business. That’s why Customers, Analysts and other Data Vendors are all very interested! We are often asked “so when can we sign up?”

What are the initial reactions of Customers, Analysts and Data Vendors?

We have consulted with Customers, Analysts and Data Vendors from the beginning as we wanted to ensure that Opportunity Finder addresses verifiable and real use cases. Customers love it as it provides them with closest to deal ready Accounts for focus, whether by Sales, Business Development teams or Marketing. Analysts appreciate the uniqueness and first time availability of middle of the funnel opportunity data at scale, for each geo and solution area, all available online. Data Vendors see the immediate complementarity of their digitally sourced data with our person collected opportunity insights.

Recruitment in the ‘New Normal’ – Why Hypercare in HR Counts for Everything

How we work has changed in the last two years – and changed forever. At my company BNZSA, we are fully remote, and the office is now a place where teams only come together to check-in with one another periodically – and then with very strict rules.

While this has forced us all to reappraise how, where and even, when we work, it has brought freedom and opportunity. BNZSA is a global sales lead generation provider for many of the world’s largest B2B IT companies. Despite being physically dispersed, we are in a period of hypergrowth, and for instance, recorded 344 percent growth in Q3 2021 compared to the same period last year.

To serve this level of growth and maintain outstanding campaign delivery, we need more and more people so we’re increasing headcount at an astonishing rate. This year alone we’ve taken on 215 new people.

So, imagine the challenge I face as head of recruitment to maintain that momentum.

I could follow the lead of many other companies to streamline recruitment. I could appoint an agency and let their head-hunters do all the work. I could also rely on the myriad AI-based HR software solutions to vet candidates digitally.

But neither of these feel right to me, and don’t fit with BNZSA’s ethos of hypercare for our people, and to be a place where anyone can flourish regardless of their background. We hire for aptitude and potential. To illustrate my point, read this below from our founder and CEO Brahim Samhoud.

“When I started BNZSA I wanted to create something with respect for our various cultures. I don’t care about your background, if you’re highly motivated and you want to be successful, then this is the place for you. I don’t care if you’ve been to Harvard or whatever you’ve done in the past – your gender, religion, ethnic background, sexuality or age. It doesn’t matter to me. I want to give our people the opportunity to be rock stars. There are so many people in the world who have ability but are never given the opportunity to shine.”

How a candidate might fit is not a tick-box exercise. If that was the case, we wouldn’t have electrical engineers from Canada, or people with degrees in Chinese, or ex-tennis pros on the team. They simply wouldn’t get past the first hurdle in the majority of hiring environments.

So, if ‘people first’ is a core value of BNZSA, our recruitment must be personal. You can only see a person’s spark, true personality and sense their potential face-to-face. Also, when we’re assembling a team comprising 45 nationalities and counting, we must be sensitive to cultural differences. And in the remote world, all this must be done via Skype.

But we’re conscious that even today, many people might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a face-to-face job interview from their computer. They might be quite an introverted person (or very extrovert), and they could be self-conscious about their language abilities. There are many factors that could influence a candidate’s failure or success. And we want everyone to succeed if at all possible.

That’s why we’ve put together a short check list for interviewees to help them prepare. It might seem an obvious thing to do, but I truly doubt that many companies make such efforts to put people at ease and guide them to be their best for a first interview. Here’s the set of simple preparation suggestions that we send to every candidate.

We also provide links to videos that provide insights into the company, its culture, the job and some conditions.

In short, we go the extra mile – another BNZSA core value (along with highest quality and change the industry) – to help candidates be as prepared as they can be before we speak.

This means that we’re able to hire and on-board at the tremendous rate we’re doing, giving people the best possible opportunity to succeed and be part of something very special. At BNZSA the sky really is the limit for career growth – but it always begins with a high quality first touch.

Brahim Samhoud: A Man Driven by Four Core Values

I sat down with Brahim Samhoud, CEO and founder of BNZSA, to understand his motivations, why BNZSA and how it is changing the industry.

Firstly, maybe a silly question. What does BNZSA stand for?

It stands for my family initials. My name, Brahim, my son Noa, my daughter Zoe and SA for our surname. It’s not the best name in the world, and I didn’t consult an expensive branding agency. But it is personal to me and I hope it means a lot for many of our team. You could say that BNZSA is another one of my children, whose eighth birthday we celebrate this month!

Calling the company BNZSA reminds me every day why we’re doing it. It’s personal to me. It drives me every day because I want my kids to be proud of what their father has achieved, to have a legacy, and maybe for them to join and lead us one day.

Why did you step away from a progressively senior career path to set-up a one-man shop in your garage?

I wanted to create a company with a story, to be a success on my own terms, but also to build something with meaning. I didn’t build it with an exit strategy in mind. If it was all about money, then I could have gone anywhere to make a lot of cash. No, it was all about building something worthwhile, a company that stands for something more.

I want BNZSA to be the best at what it does. I want it to be a good company with values where people are treated fairly and with respect.

So, I grabbed all the things I’d learned from past experiences; I did a really strong analysis of what I would like this company to stand for. I came up with four core values which still stand today and inform everything we do: people, highest quality, extra mile, and change the industry.

Eight years later, we’re nearly 280 people with offices in four countries and delivering $1.5 billion to clients’ pipelines.

Let’s start with people. Can you tell me more about your thinking here?

The first thing that came to my mind was people. Business. Society. It’s all about people. It’s not just about the people in the company, but also the people we deal with as a company – our clients and their prospects.

A big motivation for me is that when I was younger it took me about 10 years to go from a junior position into management. I wanted to build an environment where anyone can learn, develop and thrive - and quickly. Another thing about people is that when you work in bigger environments, it becomes all about politics. It’s more about how many shoulders you stand on rather than how many people you can bring to the next level.

I also wanted to create something with respect for our various cultures. I don’t care about your background, if you’re highly motivated and you want to be successful, then this is the place for you. I don’t care if you’ve been to Harvard or whatever you’ve done in the past – your gender, religion, ethnic background, sexuality or age. It doesn’t matter to me.

I want to give our people the opportunity to be rock stars. There are so many people in the world who have ability but are never given the opportunity to shine.

Then it becomes about the highest quality and the extra mile. These tie together because people will only produce the highest quality and go the extra mile when they are motivated to do so.

The extra mile is a mindset where you are forcing yourself to go further. To get out of your comfort zone. It’s not all about doing more, it’s around training yourself to think outside of your box. It’s about training your brain to see things differently, because you know that you’re not limited by anything.

Obviously, the extra mile creates great results, but it’s about the mindset that comes out of people who are motivated, driven to succeed and to think differently. That creates a process that goes the extra mile.

So, when you take these three things together – people, highest quality and extra mile – you can pretty much change anything you want. I’m not going to try and change the world, but I am committed to changing the industry we’re working in.

If you put all those things together, it’s all about helping our clients – to sell more, better and faster.

So that that was your objective and purpose from day one?

No. when I started, it was all about crunching data better than others. We evolved because a client at the time said we love what you do with the data, but can you have someone calling on the data? So, I hired an agent to make some calls. After about three weeks the client called to say that the calls really weren’t any good. I asked for recording and I was appalled at what I heard. I realised there and then that if I wanted much higher quality, I had to do it myself. Basically, I had to review my mission statement.

I took it on myself. I was buying data and selling data all over the world. I started the day in Japan and ended it in the USA. Every single cent I made was reinvested into the company.

As we grew, I needed an office, I needed desks, computers and phones. We started with two to three people on the phones. That’s how BNZSA started growing and evolving into a call centre based on the highest quality data.

I also began to build up a team of ex-colleagues who started working from their couches and in time relocated to Madrid. They are still with me and are trusted leaders – Cristina Biet, Chief Production Officer, her husband Alex who heads our IT and Gina Goanta who heads data. That was nearly eight years-ago and we’ve been together ever since. We have hired nearly 280 people since then – many are young and enthusiastic, and willing to learn and develop. We also have some ‘grey hairs’ with many years of industry experience. It’s a great mix.

How did you get from the garage in France to Madrid?

Madrid has a good mix of international people with many languages and cultures. It’s an open and welcoming place, and I knew that it's a place where foreigners would want to come to live as we grew. People are happy to come to Madrid for a job, it’s a place to work, not so much to party – but it still has great arts and culture.

Also, my best friend lives in Madrid – so that helped as well. Let’s be clear, it’s not all about the weather either. It’s a nice by-product, but it’s less important, and actually, it gets quite cold here in the winter.

Does Madrid give you a good pool of international talent?

Madrid is excellent for growing a business like BNZSA. There are a lot of ex-pats - which gives us our local language capabilities, and I believe it's comparable with other major European locations.

Right now, if I pooled the salaries that we offer to our people, we are comparable to London or Paris – we’re on par. And because I’m paying people at the level I am, I can attract great talent and compete internationally. For example, when the minimum wage for call centres was increased by about 33 percent a few years ago, we didn’t have to readjust our pay ranges at all.

It‘s about being able to afford to pay people the right amount of money for them to be motivated and focused, happy where they live – so they can easily live the four core values.

You’re a career sales guy. How come you’re leading a marketing agency?

Our biggest strength as a company is that we are not dictated to by the market. We’re not looking at what others are doing. We’re looking at the overall process, and then saying with the eyes of a salesperson – what would I like to change? We’re an agency providing marketing services, but with a very commercially minded approach.

The critical lens is ‘does what we’re doing going to help me sell more, better and faster?’ If the answer is yes, then we should do it. The obsession about sales processes is coming from a sales point of view, not a marketing point of view. I’m a sales guy who has access to a marketing engine. It means that as a company we can easily bridge the gap between marketing and sales. This works well for us as a company, but it also helps our clients.

My focus is foremost about asking what does my client need, and then aligning our skills and offering to meet those needs.

Another important thing about this approach is that we can easily sit down with both the marketing and the sales director. In fact, where we normally begin client relationships with marketing, I always say let’s get everyone around the table so I can fully understand what everyone’s needs are and deliver a solution for the enterprise, not just one function.

BNZSA seems to have carved itself a niche in the agency world. Can you elaborate?

Most agencies are run by the creative guys, the marketing guys or the financial guys. BNZSA is run by a sales guy, so we really do have a deeper and wider perspective on client needs.

Also, it’s important to understand that we are a direct marketing agency. We don’t go up against the creative agencies. We accept that we work in the not-so-glamourous part of marketing. Everybody hates data. Everybody hates cold calling. But that’s the job we’re doing and we’re taking it to a whole new level as we are so specialised in it. And personally, I love data!

Our clients are always telling us ‘we’re getting leads, but the leads aren’t converting’. That’s where we come it. We have weekly calls with our clients’ sales reps where our agents present them with their pipeline. You don’t get more insight than that.

BNZSA is now adding digital to the core telemarketing and data engine. Is BNZSA now going against the digital agencies?

No. The reason to add digital to bring another dimension to our client prospects’ experience with us. To be end-to-end, we need to engage with them digitally as well as on the phone. Plus, our data is so rich, we can ensure that the digital programmes are really relevant and enhance the overall experience with us. We look at the funnel as a whole and need to have everything in-house.

It’s the same when we see how bad other companies are with data or telemarketing. We're bringing the same approach to the highest quality to the whole experience. We don’t force irrelevant content on prospects. We only provide material that’s relevant and useful to them. What we’re doing is powered by real people for real people.

How does BNZSA tie-up the client and prospect’s experience?

That’s the icing on the cake, and really is the BNZSA difference – we call it the 'warm handover'.

Our data team is constantly cleaning the CRM so the insight we have is both the highest compliance, but very rich. We’re engaging digitally and also having many calls with prospects to develop the relationships – understanding and trust. We're informing our clients’ reps on a weekly basis of how their pipelines are developing and then when the time is right, we have what we call a warm handover.

The warm handover is a value-add like no other and ensures that client sales reps and their prospects are a long way down the path to a deal before they ever meet one another.

In researching and engaging with prospects, our agents make many calls into client companies over time. Our teams map buying committees, develop personal relationships, understanding and trust with budget holders, decision makers and influencers. We only host three-way meetings between clients and prospects when we have a complete picture of the sales opportunity – which delivers conversion rates unprecedented in the industry.

You talked about real people working for real people. Can you tell me more about training and development?

The great thing about generating a lot of cash is that we can reinvest it into the business. Training is very important to us because it’s our agents that deliver success for BNZSA and our clients.

For instance, five or six years ago it might take three months for a new agent to be up-to-speed, confident and effective. Now with our investment into on-boarding, that timeframe is more like two weeks. This means that a brand-new agent is contributing almost immediately and is a productive part of the team rather than being a cost to the organisation.

It comes back to always trying to find ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently. It’s back to the core values – take care of the people, they will go the extra mile to deliver the highest quality, and in doing so, we’re changing the industry.

What is it that really motivates you personally?

My personal philosophy is very simple - you can only eat with one spoon at a time. I don’t want four sports cars or seven villas or yachts – or to travel on a private jet. Actually, I would quite like the jet from time to time, but I don’t have to and it’s not good for my carbon footprint!

I’m excited when something contributes to taking us toward my vision for the organisation and how I want the organisation to be. I take a lot of pride when I see people join the company and become incredible at what they do and move up in the business. I’m really proud of the people and the teams that surround me and how they are stepping-up and supporting one another. But I also want everyone who works for BNZSA to be well treated and proud to say they work here. I want them to feel proud of their achievements at BNZSA.

Finally, what vision do you have for BNZSA in say, three to five years?

Simple really. To keep doing what we’re doing. To grow. To live our core values and help our clients to sell more, better and faster.

Demand generation powered by people: the future of effective account based marketing (Part 3)

In the third and final instalment of his assessment of Account Based Marketing (ABM), Paul Stacey, Head of BNZSA UK, considers the necessity for quality data and appropriate human intervention in successful ABM.

Let’s not kid ourselves, ABM is difficult

A truism is that not all ABM campaigns are created – or executed – equally. Indeed, some are definitely more equal than others. Don’t be confused by having a TAL. That’s not really Account Based Marketing. ABM is personalising tactics to the account and targeting only those accounts that matter. 

Very often organisations do the targeting but not the personalisation. Relying on flooding the internet and social platforms with ads or hiding behind unsolicited email is a sure way to fail.

You can have all the delivery tools in the world, but ABM is utterly dependent on data – and the quality of that data.

You need quality data to select the right account, and quality data to personalise to that account. You can’t personalise if you don’t know who you’re communicating with. Online and offline, ABM requires data to be able to personalise.

Your data needs to be both demographic and behavioural. Who are your prospects and what are they doing? Can you understand what they care about and what problems they are trying to solve? Get this right and deliver valuable insights and solutions, and you’re getting there.

The smartest companies are able to combine every piece of first-party data gleaned from multiple channels – online, social, webinar, events, media etc. When combined with strong third-party data, an organisation can establish a single view of what every account and every known individual within that account is doing.

In my opinion, very few organisations can do this. Some claim to. Others want to. But only few can.

Smart companies also use data to re-target within and across multiple channels. They also use smart scoring models to track engagement and convert leads from MAL to MQL at just the right time. But be wary of self-fulfilling prophecies. If you re-target a small audience, they will over index on engagement and you’ll get false positive leads.

Demand generation powered by people

So, you’re a smart company. You have your well-oiled multi-channel market plan in place.  You’ve nailed your scoring. Congratulations! How are you converting leads? 

Ultimately, unless you’re selling a solution with very low consideration and a short sales cycle someone actually has to speak to the client or prospect at varying points during the cycle. I wholeheartedly believe in the principle of Demand Generation Powered by People.

As mentioned in the first article in this series, traditional ways of meeting prospects and nurturing relationships is out the window. But that doesn’t mean conversations can’t be had. They just need to be by phone or video conference. Indeed, the very nature of how we work today may offer greater opportunities for the personal touch. People are more captive at their desk at home today than ever before. And with a greater sense of physical isolation, staying connected with the outside world is particularly appealing to many of us – your clients included.

But this requires intelligence and a relational approach. It also raises a number of questions:

There’s no hard and fast rule here. It truly depends on the campaign you’re running and your relationship with the client – but the personal touch is essential for successful Account Based Marketing.

The simple fact is that personalisation through digital alone is hard. Even with the best DCO solution it’s hard and expensive.

Good agents beat bad digital; good agents complement good digital. In short, every ABM campaign should involve humans.

So, can an organisation scale and engage at the right point in the customer journey? Yes, but to do so you need the right data to determine when to engage at the right time, coupled with the human capital to support the outbound calls. Humans can identify bad data, rescue poor leads and convert good leads in a way that machines can’t.

Lead qualification is a good example of using people early in an ABM journey, while BDRs are good example of using them at the end.

I’ll say it again, my mantra is Demand Generation Powered by People because I believe that the best demand generation campaigns are personal.  

ABM is no longer an alternative B2B strategy. It feels like it’s the only one that matters.

To summarise

Demand generation powered by people: the future of account based marketing (Part 2)

In a series of three articles, Paul Stacey, head of BNZSA UK, examines the current state of Account Based Marketing (ABM). In this second instalment, he provides an appraisal of the ABM vendor landscape and where to invest.

Can software alone solve ABM today?

There are multiple activities involved in creating and executing a successful Account Based Marketing programme. These span lead management and marketing automation, sales intelligence and intent data collection, content marketing, email marketing, CRM and customer data management, predictive analytics, and ad serving and re-targeting.

For some companies, investing in one or more of these types of tools is a great way to start an ABM programme.

Many ABM products specialise in one or a few of these areas. While these tools are often complementary to larger account-based engagement platforms, they do not provide a comprehensive ABM solution.

Businesses looking to invest in a platform to support Account Based Marketing should look for solutions that allow them to:

Fully featured ABM, or account-based engagement, platforms usually include the following set of capabilities:

Other ABM related software include:

The challenge is to make the vendor selection that’s right for you, and embed them into your existing sales, marketing and communication programmes.

With careful selection and deployment these solutions can radically improve an organisation’s ability to find, engage and convert target accounts and buying groups. 

But these buying groups are all people. So again, I return to my key point – that demand generation in B2B should be powered by people not just machines.

What ABM tools are you using, how are your teams responding, and how are they helping you succeed?

Learning from a legend: my conversation with David Cote

Call me boring, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than talking about business strategy and exploring new ways to power growth.

It’s even better when I get to pick the brain of a business legend, and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have a one-to-one with David Cote, former CEO of Honeywell and current Chairman of Vertiv.

David’s new book Winning Now, Winning Later is a modern business classic, and I could barely believe that I won this opportunity through the HarperCollins Leadership Book Club. Even now, it seems at times like a very strange dream since David did the whole conversation whilst enjoying a pre-workout cigar!

The interaction was completely inspiring – we got on so well that we continued way beyond the scheduled 30 minutes. We talked about the challenges of growing a company, the direct marketing business model and how to make time for big ideas, like his famous Honeywell (and now Vertiv) Operating System.

Here are some of the topics we touched on, and the things I’ll be taking away:

Running a growing small company is just as hard as running a big one

I breathed a sigh of relief when David brought this up – I’d been feeling our growing pains a little this year as we expanded beyond 200 employees and wondered if it was just me.

The thing with this size is that you have to learn that you can’t control everything, and your people have to be empowered and motivated to push for increasing profitability through lower costs and higher quality.

We’ve been lucky enough to grow without too much hierarchy, but we need to keep a constant eye on our processes to make sure they’re fit for purpose as we grow.

Building a change culture requires cross-functional teams

Change is constant; there is no endpoint. We have to bake this into our culture and make sure everyone is comfortable with that. Lately we’ve been running and running in the hope that things “settle down”, but we need to make sure that we keep that agility and flexibility without burning out.

I loved talking to David about how to prepare a team to live like this. His advice was to pick just one process to begin with, then build a cross-functional team of stakeholders to work on it. It’s important to bring in different viewpoints, since as David says, “the obvious is not always obvious to the person who has to solve the problem.”

By focusing on just one process to begin with, we’re more likely to have a success that will empower the team to move forward with the intent for future change.

Think of new strategies and models as part of your R&D

A tough challenge for most entrepreneurs is innovation – not just in terms of your product or service, but also with regard to pricing. This can be super sensitive as you’re really putting your profitability at risk; I certainly didn’t get into this business to lose money!

David made a suggestion for a new pricing model that might work in the direct marketing industry, and at first, I’m embarrassed to say that I went straight on the defensive with all the reasons it wouldn’t work.

As we discussed it further, however, I really saw his point that pricing can and should be something that we experiment with. Any risks that we take could be considered an investment in R&D – if we crack the code and find a more profitable pricing model, that could be totally transformational!

There’s so much more I could say about our conversation but I’ll leave it there for now. I’ll share a few clips from the recording over the next few days – let me know if you have any questions and let’s have a debate about some of these big ideas!

Finally, thank you so much to Rainer Stiller for advising me to pick up David’s book in the first place!

Demand generation powered by people: the future of effective account based marketing (Part 1)

In this series of three articles, Paul Stacey examines the current state of Account Based Marketing (ABM). He looks at the necessary alignment with sales and marketing strategies; an appraisal of the ABM vendor landscape and where to invest; and considers the essential linkage between high quality data and timely human intervention. 

Account Based Marketing – A difficult, but rewarding ‘new normal’ for B2B sales

With greater uncertainty about technology investments, the current pandemic has ushered a necessary change in traditional B2B sales and marketing strategies and accelerated a greater need for effective account based marketing (ABM).

ABM has been with us for some time. So, it’s not a new and recent readjustment of B2B sales and marketing augured by Covid-19 per se. But the changes in how sales and marketing teams have had to rethink their alignment – perhaps rationalising their account or industry focus – in the current climate means that companies have this year had to respond quickly to new priorities and audiences.

ABM is an obvious plan of attack in our new world. But effective ABM is particularly challenged today as previous direct and personal – in-person channels like face-to-face meetings and networking events – have evaporated. In-person client activities of yore like hospitality at sporting occasions or the arts were arguably on the wane anyway, but intimacy with clients and prospects has never been so challenged. And yet have never before been so important.

Relationships in our increasingly virtual world are less direct and personal, and decision making far more dispersed – both geographically and organisationally.

Effective ABM is expensive, it’s difficult, but executed well, has the potential to deliver exceptional returns.

As most of you know, ABM, also known as key account marketing, is a strategic approach to B2B marketing based on account awareness in which an organisation considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.

Despite its name, ABM is really less about marketing to an ‘account’, and more of an understanding that B2B investment decisions are made by buying committees from varied internal silos. So, their collective actions constitute an indicator of interest, intent and engagement. But reaching the decision-making group is hard and is inevitably increasingly complex. Getting your ABM strategy right has never been more important or tougher. 

A significant part of the promise of ABM is the ability to personalise messages, content and programmes to differentiate by addressing prospect’s specific needs.

How it works, who it’s for and its benefits

ABM is typically employed in enterprise-level sales organisations. If you do it well, you can realise these benefits:

While business marketing has been typically organised by industry, product/solution or channel (direct/social/PR etc.), ABM brings all of these together to focus on individual accounts. Done well, you will reap the rewards of your tailored solutions. Done badly, you will waste a lot of time, effort and money.

So, sellers today need to rely on integrated marketing and communications in a way they have never done before. Marketing needs to be personalised, and it needs to be intelligently deployed across multiple channels. It needs to be joined-up, complementary and highly relevant.

But going the multi-channel way brings risk. A multi-channel approach inevitably waters down spend levels within each channel. The temptation is to increase media spend at the expense of creative personalisation. When this happens the uniqueness of a message is lost, and marketing activities become commoditised and potential customers see little or no difference between suppliers and their competitors. When that happens, price becomes the only obvious differentiator. Personalisation is paramount.

Organisations which are currently seeing the greatest benefit from ABM are IT, Services and Consulting companies. With complex propositions, long sales cycles and large customers, these organisations are ideal candidates for the approach. This is because ABM is ultimately dependant on data, and these sectors major on the value of data. They have complex solutions, and they have complex buying groups.

ABM is, though, spreading into other sectors and a benefit can be seen to be an increased return on investment. Consequently, there is something of a ‘gold rush’ in the ABM automation space.

If you read the ABM technology vendor’s marketing claims, you would be led to think that automation can overcome marketing and sales teams’ current challenge for intimacy with clients and do it all instead – identify, reach and engage with your highest-value prospects – at the touch of a button. But can these off-the-shelf solutions truly automate at scale while retaining key customer insights and preserving intimacy? I think not.

There is a place for automation of course, but it’s worthless without high quality data, and essentially, the intervention of people.

I would argue that the human touch is necessary in at least one, if not multiple touchpoints in any company’s ABM campaigns. Demand generation must ultimately be powered by people.

But how to achieve the perfect marriage of automation, data and people?

Tune in for the next instalment. But in the meantime, what do you think? I welcome your thoughts and comments.