The B2B Marketing Conference 2018
The B2B Marketing Conference 2018
ABM: Getting it right and making it happen
ABM in 2019
Mary-Anne Baldwin and Andy Bacon, B2B Marketing
B2B Marketing reveals the biggest challenge in ABM today… and how to improve it
The biggest challenge faced by ABM practitioners is sourcing information on their accounts, a survey of over 300 B2B marketers. Some 86% of B2B marketers find sourcing data and insight on their accounts either a challenge or a big challenge, results from our free ABM report show.
Mary-Anne Baldwin, head of content at B2B Marketing, showed marketers how they could overcome this challenge by focusing on the main elements of ABM delivery.
More than half, 51%, of B2B marketers are using ABM to win new business, versus 34% using it to grow existing accounts. This means starting from scratch with your data and insight as marketers. Selecting existing accounts under a one-to-one approach is the easiest place to start ABM.
The CRM system is the backbone of your ABM programme so ensure it’s used effectively. Think about how upgrades, training or incentives could help improve its use. It’s crucial marketing uses the CRM system just as effectively as sales so it can be equally informed on their accounts.
Don’t mistake friendliness with alignment. Just because you can have a pint with the guys in sales doesn’t mean you’re aligned. True alignment means crystal clear objectives and shared responsibility. Sales need to be equally involved as marketing.
Programme & Content Execution
You can use ABM campaigns and content to source more intel on your customers. Maersk used bespoke content to engage key stakeholders on LinkedIn, then moved them to a live chat facility where they asked the customers all about their business challenges. For more insights take a look at our premium report, Early stage ABM: Plotting your route to success.
Why inside-out is key to ABM success
Dr Sarah Thomas and Rhiannon Blackwell, Accenture
ABM is for life, not just for Christmas
Account-based marketing must not be positioned as ‘just another fad’ in your organisation – it must be sold as a strategic programme that will bring strategic benefits to the business, according to Dr Sarah Thomas, CMO at Accenture Operations.
Alongside her colleague, client marketing manager and UK ABM programme leader Rhiannon Blackwell, they presented four common stakeholder personas and provided their advice on how best to get them on-board and engaged with ABM activity.
‘Kevin Keeno’: These stakeholders are raring to go, but that means they jump straight into tactics without the necessary strategy. Take a step backwards, determine the client and business’ objectives and develop the necessary insights. Don’t forget the quick wins, as these are vital for these stakeholders.
‘Debbie Downer’: This stakeholder always takes the negative view of anything you do. At Accenture, one of these claimed not to ‘do’ social. Rhiannon said they did a full audit of all their priority clients, to prove its importance.
‘Busy Ben’: This persona is enthusiastic, but never has enough time or is always looking for a shortcut. Accenture developed a messaging playbook for these clients to prevent the need to use ‘generic’ copy.
‘Olivia Over-analyser’: Such stakeholders are gripped by analysis paralysis, questioning every suggestion – with none deemed quite right for their client. This is often driven by fear, of something that hasn’t worked previously. Work our what’s driving that fear, and overcome it.
"Be careful of over-selling. We’re very clear about what it takes to be successful and managing expectations. We are clear about what we can commit, but also what commitment we need back from the account teams to deliver a long-term programme that’s really going to work"
Dr Sarah Thomas, CMO & MD, Accenture Operations
"Lead with a stat that's about them"
Rhiannon Blackwell, client marketing manager at Accenture
Building ABM from scratch
David Cotterill, Conduent
10 ABM lessons you must learn
David Cotterill knew he was onto a winner with ABM, when he secured a $30 million deal in a mere six-month account-based sales cycle. Since then, he’s spent 12 years building his career off the back of this achievement.
Now at Conduent – what David refers to as the world’s biggest start-up – he’s created a successful ABM programme from scratch which has been so successful he’s been asked to widen the programme across Europe.
The essence of ABM hasn’t changed since it started – you need to understand your customers want, feel and think. But David believes gaining insight into customers has. Social media has become an invaluable tool for B2B marketers when trying to target a decision-making unit that has grown into a decision-making universe.
“ABM is in the detail – empathy mapping can really help. What do they feel, think, say and do?”
David Cotterill, European marketing director, Conduent
David’s key lessons:
- Find space for ABM.
- Insight is very important.
- Have the right tools.
- It’s all in the detail.
- Be differentiated in content.
- Use modern ways of targeting.
- Know where to go with your accounts.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Get the measurement right.
- It’s a cultural change.
Read our full interview with David here
ABM and ABS alignment: How to hit a moving target
Adrian Hardy, BT
ABM plans built without sales will fail
Adrian Hardy, head of global ABM at BT, was the lone marketer in a sales team where he was trying to convince them to adopt ABM.
He realised the most valuable commodity for any sales team is time. If you don’t have something tangible to bring to them to help them meet their targets, they’re not going to give you the time of day.
He also recognised he needed to sell ABM to the sales team using an ABM approach.
Using the Myers–Briggs test, Adrian identified the key personality traits sales and marketing had in common to work out how to get his message across in the best way. He learnt to speak ‘sales-ish’.
He then focused on partnering with – rather than supporting – sales. Instead of using marketing strategies that deliver a marketing target, he developed marketing strategies that deliver the sales target.
At the end of the first year working as part of this sales team he was told he had changed sales’ view of marketing from “the colouring in department” to the “lighting-up department”.
Adrian’s 3 steps to working well with sales for the first time:
1. Go on a recommendation. Get an existing sales colleague to send an email to the new team. Outline your idea in terms of sales outcome.
2. Go prepared. Book an hour, write your agenda and research the accounts. Go with insight they don’t have.
3. Start small. Identify one simple thing you can impact. Show examples of where you’ve done this before successfully.
“An ABMer is the CMO on the board for the account team. They should act like it”
Adrian Hardy, head of global ABM marketing, BT
Further your ABM know-how with B2B Marketing’s training courses and workshops
To meet the challenges of account-based marketing it's crucial your marketing and sales teams are empowered with the right skills, tools and direction - even if you're employing an ABM agency.
We've assembled a team of hugely experienced ABM experts to create our programme of ABM training courses. Choose from three different courses and workshops:
Essential ABM overview
A detailed overview of how ABM works in practice, and how to adopt and deliver it successfully in your business.
ABM sales and marketing alignment
This one-day masterclass will show you and your team how to develop an effective, water-tight strategy for collaborating, communicating and working with sales to make your ABM programme a success.
Developing compelling ABM propositions
This course will give you the expert insights, tools and techniques you need to create compelling marketing propositions that target individual people, accounts and business drivers for your ABM.
For more information on all of our training options, contact Alex Burton on +44 (0)20 7014 4929 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mimi Rosenheim, Gina Balarin and Robert Taylor, and Andre Yee
Moving beyond demand gen
The ABM funnel is more like a champagne glass than a traditional mojito glass, according to Mimi Rosenheim. It’s the consistent presence of marketing and more selective targeting that she says is really significant when you put the numbers on it.
But it’s not just about marketing. Mimi believes to perfect the champagne strategy you need to create the right target account list, and focus on campaigns that drive revenue. Ultimately this involves the sales team.
Alignment is key to ABM and you’ll have to convince your sales team that just doing demand gen is not enough to secure the really big wins. You need to be more targeted, and there’s small steps to achieving this. For example, your sales team could still go to an event but perhaps a smaller event where there are more of the people you actually want to talk to.
4 tips for ABM
- Budget: But don’t be cheap.
- Personalise: Be in lockstep with sales to reinforce message.
- Segment: Do this at a deeper level.
- Scale: Find a balance.
"Marketing is a Jedi mind trick, you’re telling them what they need, not forcing them"
Mimi Rosenheim, senior director web marketing, Demandbase
Making ABM work in the real world
Andre Yee feels the conversation on ABM needs to move on from the concept. We know all about the strategy in theory, but what about in practice?
He provided four key takeaways to help your ABM work in the real world.
“The modern buyer is multi-channel,” he said.
Andre’s 4 key takeaways
1. Tactics are not ‘one-size-fits-all’. Determine your ABM model and align the right tactics to it.
2. Benchmark your current state. Audit your account engagement and contact tiers, and validate the target account profile.
3. Show success with ABM KPIs. Define and anchor around five golden metrics.
4. Extend account insights to sales. Operationally connect marketing with sales.
"Guess what they’re doing as well as checking you out? They’re checking your competitors out"
Andre Yee, CEO, Triblio.
ABM and storytelling: How to cut through the noise at scale
ABM requires a story that’s so relevant and appropriate to a prospect they will engage with it. Gina Balarin says case studies can be a good way to achieve this because it connects with both the head and the heart.
However, a good story will only get you so far. Technology can proliferate your reach to the decision-makers within your account. Robert Taylor says there are many tactics to deliver hyper-personalised stories, and it’s wise to be mindful of what you choose, in light of GDPR.
The use of LinkedIn to communicate stories has been popular since the regulation came into force. InMail is particularly useful as it feels more personal, and he has seen greater engagement through the message platform than on email.
Read the full interview with Gina and Rob here.
Tips for tech
- Try before you buy on a small set of accounts.
- Measure success accurately and have a clear process of attribution.
- Allow marketing intelligence within the CRM.
"Instead of competing with the noise we have to become the noise people want to hear"
Gina Balarin, founder, Verballistics
Tara Allison, Robert Norum, and Tom Perry
The importance of forensic insight to ABM success
Digital River defines ABM as “a complete alignment of sales and marketing into a single engagement stream with a common goal”.
When introducing ABM to the company, the goal was to focus on net new customers. With a small team, they started with a one-to-many approach, clustering target accounts by industry and personas.
Once the one-to-many strategy was successful, they moved to one-to-one. This was a crucial time to extend support to sales. Tara Allison, global marketing director, advises an approach of monitoring and scaling your ABM programme as you go.
In the second year of the ABM programme, Tara focused on growing accounts. This meant using the ‘80/20 rule’ and picking top of the pyramid prospects that drive 80% of the company’s revenue.
They created new tailored content for accounts and increased personalisation.
The result was accelerated contact acquisition at the top of the funnel, as well as adding value and therefore partnering with sales.
Over the course of the programme, Digital River increased top of the funnel engagement by 907%.
"When marketing does a great job of sending out personalised material and sales just go back to normal selling, ABM falls over. The continuation of the message gets lost”
Tara Allison, global marketing director, Digital River
The three areas of personalisation Digital River introduced were:
1. Intent monitoring
They tracked buying behaviour online, responding to the spikes in engagement to identify customers’ intent to buy.
2. Tailored social content
They took the intent data as well as topics customers were searching online and used that to tailor content personal to them.
3. Social selling
Digital River prioritised aligning sales by introducing social selling and coaching the team on the new strategy.
Defining and delivering the right ABM
For McDonald Butler, ABM is a strategic approach to marketing, it’s not a separate programme.
If you want ABM to work it needs to be embedded in your strategy, it’s not a tactic, says associate director Robert Norum. “All your marketing strategies need to support it.”
He suggests a one-to-many approach is a reasonable place to start, as well as being the least risky.
With one-to-one, you might spend your first year targeting one company only to get nowhere. One-to-many spreads the load when you’re just starting out.
"The ABM world is converging. One-to-one used to be the primary focus, but people are now looking at how to scale it"
Robert Norum, McDonald Butler
Robert suggests a strategy whereby you lay the foundations for your ABM programme in weeks one to six, and then launch targeted content in week seven.
For a one-to-many approach, this could be sector-specific content which you can then personalise with company logos and quotes.
"ABM is not a tactic. It should be an integral part of your marketing mix – it’s not a side project"
Robert Norum, McDonald Butler
Robert’s 6-stage ABM process
1. Scoping. Use data and analytics to understand your customer base.
2. Account insight. This is mission critical. If you don’t have it you can’t do intelligent ABM.
3. Strategy. The strategy is your business approach to each sector or account, putting yourselves on an evening footing to sales.
4. Messaging and go-to-market. Create a value proposition that will resonate with the customer. It’s not about selling, but finding out what ignites and inspires their attention.
5. Campaign execution. Land compelling creative for your hard work to pay off.
6. Measurement. It’s not about MQL, it’s about pipeline and revenue.
Delivering ABM through channel partners
The first question Tom Perry, founder and CEO at Sherpa, asked himself when deciding to deliver ABM through channel partners was ‘why’?
They’re a notoriously tricky group to manage, but Tom expected their client – a large software vendor – to bring new marketing tactics to the table.
The ABM programme was focused on net new accounts, and was pitched to their clients as a seven-step process and a way of aligning to their objectives.
Sherpa ran two ABM pilots with partners in the UK and two in the US in 2018, running for three months each. The aim was to target decision-makers and influencers and leverage technology platforms which might be out of reach for smaller clients.
The pilots consisted of a range of tactics, filling gaps in content and personalised marketing at all stages of the funnel.
"It wasn’t a one-size-fits-all programme, it was collaborative with each partner"
Tom Perry, founder and CEO, Sherpa
Sherpa’s key learnings from ABM pilots with channel partners
- Most engagement was not with the c-suite, but lower down the organisation.
- Sales and marketing alignment was easier in a channel partner than it had been with previous campaigns.
- You can’t rely on partner martech, it was a fully managed programme.
- The programme evolved in real time, using agile ABM.
- Data work accounted for almost 40% of Sherpa’s time on the project.
- Partners all perform differently.
Clive Armitage, Chris Boorman and Cat Dutton; Caroline Lotinga, John Clarke, Brendan Dykes, Sandra Judd and Jen Campbell; David De Smedt
Scaling ABM successfully: Practical lessons from marketers
"We’ve got to be able to talk in the same language, so we changed quite early on that we don’t talk about leads – at all. We talk about opportunities. It’s a really simple thing, but it changes the mindset of the team we’re working with, because we’re talking their language. We understand what their targets are and what they’re driven by"
Cat Dutton, VP marketing, Atos
"If we think of this as a marketing programme it might fail. If we think of it as a chance to collaborate with sales and deliver success together, and engage together, it has a chance of success"
Clive Armitage, CEO, Agent3
"I cannot stress enough the collaboration and communication between sales and marketing. If you think you’ve communicated to sales, do it again… and again. Sales people are brilliant and their job is to go and get revenue, what ABM is doing for our sales team is protecting that future strategy"
Chris Boorman, marketing leader, global automation and demand generation EMEA, CA Technologies
The marketing team at Genesys came up with a new term – opportunity-based marketing – to increase focus on the end-goal of its ABM programme.
Jen Campbell, who leads marketing in the UK and Ireland for the CX and contact centre, told the audience: “We coined our own acronym, OBM – opportunity-based marketing. It was a natural progression.
"We’d identified the accounts we wanted to target and within those accounts we needed to pinpoint what the actual opportunity was. And that’s why we came up with OBM, it focused us.”
Genesys’ campaign was a one-to-one ABM programme targeting decision-makers in four sectors.
The company worked with agency MOI to execute the campaign and delivered 173% over target. The agency support was vital, said Campbell.
“We’ve always had the skillsets in-house, but there’s always been a resourcing challenge, which is where having the support of an agency and a technology vendor has really been helpful.
"We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did without access to those external resources.”
"Like a lot of LinkedIn profiles, mine had been written for the job market, but the big difference of what MOI did was change that to this is what I can do for you as my customers, rather than this is what I can bring to you as a potential employee"
Sandra Judd, global account director, Genesys
How to use ABM as a stepping-stone
The most valuable thing David de Smedt did in the 10 months since corrugated packaging business DS Smith launched its ABM programme was to book four-hour appointments with the account managers of their targets.
When DS Smith selected two accounts to pilot its ABM programme, they chose customers where the account manager was present and had a deep understanding of the client, to increase the chances of success.
David says: “I was personally nervous, going to an account manager and asking I want four hours out of their agenda. [I thought] these guys are going to say to me: ‘You’re nuts!. I’m not going to spend four hours speaking to marketers. I don’t have time I need to be in calls, do my paperwork’. But I was quite surprised these guys were prepared to sit down with us.
“We went in with a really long list of questions – we thought better be prepared, we don’t want an awkward moment if we’ve asked for four hours of their time – but we never really needed that list.
"Once you get through the first phase and they get comfortable, they really opened up, and say they’re really struggling with this customer and he’s blocking me, or we don’t really have the material to explain that to the account.
The key challenges were agreed at the end of the meeting, which could then be summarised into one grand ambition for the programme.
David’s 3 lessons learned
- Be agile. Don’t try to build or reinvent everything from scratch.
- ABM is a mindset. Always keep the customer at the forefront of your mind.
- The real power of ABM is close alignment with sales. If you figure out how to fix things together, that’s really powerful.
Vicky Reddington, Nick Mason, Adam Greener
The medium is the message
Visuals and interaction are the key pillars to making good content, according to Nick Mason, CEO and founder of Turtl.
Imagery speaks to our primitive brain, with up to 90% of brain power taken up by visual activity.
It’s not uncommon for online content to be unbroken scrolling text, he said, but when done right, contextual images improve reader retention of content by 6.5 times.
Interactive content is 45% more effective. To actively engage readers, people need to experience a feeling of competence, that they understood something and are smart, said Nick.
They also need to feel content relates to them and they have autonomy while not being dictated to. The perfect example of this is a quiz, which The New York Times found to be its most popular piece of content in years.
By combining visuals and interaction in your content, you can more than double your average read times and increase your reach by more than 50%.
“The medium is the message – you don’t need to change your content, you just need to package it differently”
Nick Mason, CEO and founder, Turtl
Online articles with strong use of imagery get 94% more views, while being 43% more persuasive in their message.
How to slay your sales and marketing alignment
Vicky Reddington, co-founder at Amplified Group, has sat on both sides of the sales and marketing divide. During her presentation at B2B Marketing’s ABM Conference, she shared how to align and unite the two teams.
She believes productive conflict is much better for teams and their company than artificial harmony. When people shy away from honest conversation in favour of keeping the peace those underlying issues are never resolved.
"Discussion from all perspectives will create the best value for the business and it allows diversity of thought"
Vicky Reddington, co-founder of Amplified Group
"It doesn’t matter how good your ABM strategy is, the sales and marketing team need mutual trust and confidence to say what they really think. This is the foundation for your ABM success.
"It allows individuals to align, commit, and hold each other accountable to a shared vision, without it, ABM will never realise its potential"
Vicky Reddington, co-founder, Amplified Group
The 5 behaviours of a cohesive ABM team
The human touch
During his presentation on applying the human touch to ABM, Adam Greener, head of strategy and ABM Lead, at Enigma Marketing Services stressed that: “Only great relationships deliver great results”.
He argued the importance of “reflecting the world of the customer back to them,” and how ABM enables you to do that.
It’s all about understanding the customer on a human, personal level. That in turn is about applying emotional interpretation to the numbers. "Data is inhuman whereas ABM is about human-to-human connection,” said Adam. “Essentially, data means nothing, you need the insight that comes from it."
“Successful ABM programmes start with an informed, unbiased view of accounts able to generate sufficient value to deliver a return on that investment – and too many fall at this first hurdle.”
Marcus Hiles, client services director, Enigma was quoted as saying in The 2018 account-based marketing census.
“Marketers must be actively involved in account strategy and selection from day one. They must understand and manage stakeholder expectations and ensure that the requisite processes, resources and skills are in place to execute and measure ABM effectively.”
"There is risk in ABM but I think that’s great as it means were innovating. ABM is about delivering impact through creative thinking. You have to be ambitious. It’s about how, when and why you connect with them as a customer."
Adam Greener, head of strategy and ABM lead, Enigma
Finding the key to your ABM success
Gemma Davies, Michael Avis, Stephanie Deane and Amanda Holmes
Finding the key to your ABM success: Key quotes from the panel
"What I wish I understood much earlier is that ABM is a change programme"
Gemma Davies, director of Global ABM strategy, ServiceNow
"We based our pilot on the challenger sales model – putting it in the sales’ language made it much easier to create buy-in with them"
Stephanie Deane, head of ABM and customer advocacy, O2
ABM in a sea of change: How to ride the wave
“If you’re trying to launch ABM, one of the really important things you need is continuity in account management.”
That’s the view of Dorothea Gosling, director, marketing programmes, pursuits and ABM, at DXC, delivering the Conference’s closing keynote.
“If that sales team – those people who should hold the key relationships within those companies – is constantly churning, it’s really difficult to a) launch, b) sustain and c) improve the value of an ABM programme.”
This wasn’t the only warning she had for delegates.
“The most dangerous phrase in the language is we’ve always done it this way,” she said. “It’s easy to fall into a trap you set up your programme, it’s going well. Somebody pats you on the back and says really super. Then you stagnate. Our company is having to change, because of the way our markets and clients have evolved. Change is the one constant.
“If we think we can do ABM tomorrow the way we did it today, we’re going down a dead end.”
But Dorothea is another speaker convinced ABM can shine a light on the value of marketing.
"Because of working with ABM, we have a different relationship with sales, because they see us at our best. And if we gave more marketers the opportunity to engage with them in that way, they would probably see more marketers at their best, and there’d be a lot more collaboration."
What the B2B marketers say...
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