Account Based Everything
The 2017 B2B Marketing Conference
The rise of ABM
Joel Harrison, editor-in-chief of B2B Marketing
The Rise of ABM
Two-thirds of today’s marketers consider ABM very important to their business, yet most of them lack the skills and resources to deliver on its opportunities, a new report by B2B Marketing finds.
The survey of 300 marketers shows that 60% believe their team have only some of the capabilities to successfully deliver ABM, with only a quarter having all or many. This reflects urgent need to up-skill staff or meet the risk of poor ABM delivery – or worse still, declining market share.
“The main transition marketers need to make is centred around their attitude to sales, ensuring not just alignment but ongoing collaborative working. In the long run, the boundaries between the two will have to blur significantly," said Joel Harrison, editor-in-chief of B2B Marketing.
Speaking at the sell-out B2B Marketing’s ABM Conference: Account-Based Everything, where 400 marketers converged to discuss and learn about ABM, Joel explained the surging interest in the methodology.
“The impact of marketing automation is fading; now that everyone is doing low level automation at scale, it’s become the norm. Meanwhile, buyers' expectations are increasing and they’re more likely to do external research before buying. That means brands need to work harder to engage them.”
Why ABM is the new normal
Robert Norum, ABM consultant, McDonald Butler
Account-based marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and can be found in many guises throughout the industry.
In its purest form, ABM takes a one-to-one approach, which delivers a high return but is also high risk. Fail to win this account and you’ve wasted a huge amount of time and resources.
That’s why some choose to market to a few rather than one – also known as cluster marketing. This approach offers a high-touch scenario while lessening the risk. The third broader option is a programmatic stance, marketing to 200 or more accounts, but with this, it’s imperative not to lose sight of the original intent of ABM.
Another lesser-known trajectory is collaborative ABM, something Robert calls the crown jewel. This can be an ideal way of engaging the most important partners, sharing costs, thinking and creating a go-to-market proposition.
Overview of ABM implementation process:
- Establish your objectives with ABM and create a roadmap.
- Gain account insight (or industry insight if doing one-to-few or one-to-many) – this means relationship mapping and conducting one-to-one calls with different employees of the targeted company.
- Report key findings to sales – from here you can create an account plan together.
- Create messaging and proposition.
- If you have useful assets, know how to use them.
How to be an ABMer
Andrea Clatworthy, head of ABM, Fujitsu
Moving to an account-based method will require a new way of thinking and have a heavy emphasis on previously underused skills.
This will take time, resources and research – therefore, it’s imperative that a company makes room.
For Andrea Clatworthy, head of ABM at Fujitsu, and her marketing team, that meant cutting lead generation from their strategy and, in turn, providing employees (whether sales, marketing or in a supporting role) with training, how-to guides, templates and mentor groups.
Andrea stressed the importance of upskilling staff: “If you want to pass go, you need to identify employees with the right personas for ABM; it’s hard work and you need someone who will stay dedicated and complement the role.”
Here's what Andrea believes makes up the anatomy of a successful ABMer...
Quick runner: This person will be able to respond quickly to stakeholders. This doesn’t mean being a yes person; it’s about acknowledging and engaging with the stakeholder within a quick time frame.
Muscle: A good ABMer will recognise it’s power and have the strength to carry out the hard work to achieve it.
CMO mindset: Some liken the ABMer to a CMO. This person will take control, make the account theirs and manage their stakeholders. In order to do this, they will be clear and decisive on their objectives.
Eye for detail: This person will use their prospect’s language and know the right time to message in order to appeal.
Enthusiasm: You must really want to implement ABM and be passionate about its potential. This is as vital as the strategy, as ABM is really hard work.
Creating ABM advocates
A panel of ABM legends
“It’s not just executive advocacy that’s important but who they network with internally as they become your backers.”
Dorothea Gosling, global head pursuit marketing and demand generation programmes, DXC technology
In order to push through any significant change – and certainly when it’s as widespread and significant as ABM, you’ll need to create advocates in both your team and the wider business.
Ensure your ABM programme has support from the senior team. You will need a clear mandate.
Executive advocacy creates buy-in across the company and can help you find specific ‘ABM champions’.
Make sure your CFO sees the long-term value in ABM. You will need the need space to breathe and time to deliver financially.
Most importantly, you must have buy-in from sales. You have to strategise together, create aligned goals and work together to deliver on them. Every planning cycle starts with a conversation between sales and marketing.
Get it right and ABM has the potential to shift marketing’s position in the wider business.
“ABM is really at the forefront of senior-level conversations – in fact, it’s really lifted the conversations we have with senior executives and given marketing a strong position at the table.”
– Caroline Potter, head of field marketing EMEA, Sabre Travel Network
“It was quite easy to get an internal sponsor but the challenging conversation was with finance as you need space to breathe and time to deliver financially.”
– Antonia Wade, head of European marketing, Thompson Reuters
Building your ABM tech stack
Ignore it at your peril
Ignore technology and you’ll end up tripping over your leads.
An effective tech stack can run everything from identifying, targeting and tracking accounts and prospects, to expanding into organisations, developing content and updating sales and marketing teams.
In fact, this lack of clarity over what’s available and what it can do is the number one challenge marketers face when implementing an ABM strategy.
To address this, marketers must:
- Understand what they want to achieve before writing a tech shopping list.
- Carry out due diligence on the technology out there and the resources the preferred ones will require.
- Assess their current technology stack and how well it will integrate with new platforms.
Zoe Hominick, head of business marketing at O2, believes that people are at the heart of ABM, not technology. “The more personalised you get with ABM the better, you can’t replace that with tech. Pound for pound you’re better off investing in your people than technology.”
However, she also noted that when it’s done well, technology can empower staff and make the business more enticing to potential new recruits. “From a talent perspective you should ignore technology at your peril, it appeals to staff who want to be on the cutting edge.”
Claire Nash, director of strategy, MomentumABM agreed with Zoe’s sentiment.
“ABM is primarily about people, so think about them first – certainly before you think about technology,” she said. “We use tech to do the boring work, so that we can free up people to do the human stuff.”
ABM’s Magnificent 7 tips
Bev Burgess, senior VP, ITSMA
Bev literally wrote the book on ABM, 'A practitioner’s guide to account-based marketing'
It features interviews with her self-selected ‘magnificent seven’ of ABM experts. She shared a top tip from each of them with delegates.
Bev Burgess, senior VP, ITSMA – who reportedly coined the term account-based marketing – rounded off the Conference by explaining why ABM is the most exciting place to be in B2B, why it delivers the most amazing results for stakeholders and businesses, and how it can supercharge your career.
Eric Martin, VP customer experience marketing, SAP: Read as much as you can and learn from those around you.
Andy Pedack, relationship marketing director, Microsoft: Make sure you have a mandate for ABM from key executives within the business.
Andrea Clatworthy, head of account-based marketing, Fujitsu: Choose the right accounts up front. Don’t waste time and money chasing business that isn’t right for your services, products, brands and reputation.
Julie Johnson, executive director, marketing and accounts, KPMG US: Remember, marketing is uniquely positioned in the business to find the sweet spot between what the customer wants and what the organisation can provide.
Dorothea Gosling, global head, pursuit marketing and demand generation programmes, DXC Technology: Speak the language of sales. Understand the things they care about – such as meetings or opportunities generated – rather than traditional marketing metrics.
Raianne Reiss, director, America field marketing, Juniper Networks: Try carrying a sales quota to understand what it feels like to be a salesperson.
Charles Doyle, former CMO, JLL: Take the high ground from the start. Establish how your company will be positioned, and how marketing can achieve that.