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The Marketing Strategist:

HP Inc. and ABM: Bringing “Cold, Dead, and Hostile” Accounts to Life

September 12, 2019

  • Featured Article, Account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) not only helps organizations create seamless collaboration between sales and marketing, it can also serve as the centerpiece of a dedicated business strategy to capture new business and drive revenues from previously impenetrable accounts. HP Inc.’s success with ABM drove impressive revenue and earned new respect for marketing and ABM across the organization.
 

Setting the Stage

Hewlett-Packard split into two entities in 2015, one of which was HP Inc., housing personal systems, printers, and related services. With nearly 75 percent of its revenue derived from existing accounts, the company needed to secure new business, in a climate of slowing PC growth and in an organization where marketing lacked clout and there was little strategic alignment between marketing and sales.

To meet these challenges, sales and marketing teamed up on a One-to-One ABM program to pursue and secure new logos. They had an ideal, if not daunting, prospect group to target: corporate accounts that they had been unsuccessful in enlisting in the past, due to relationships, personal changes, or competitor affiliations. These elusive corporate targets were dubbed “cold, dead, and hostile accounts,” (CDH) and a team of highly seasoned “hunter” sales reps was formed to break through to these companies.
 

Answering the Call with ABM

Hunters alone would not capture this new business prey. They needed help opening doors, building relationships, and engaging the right contacts at these organizations. This is where ABM comes in. Marketing developed an ABM architecture built on improved data gathering and data-driven insights for customer targeting, personalized offers, and measurement. Account targeting included:

  • Identifying customer pathways – determine who customers were and how they buy
  • Investing in technology – improve information gathering, targeting, and measurement
  • Redefining what success looks like – opening doors, creating engagement, and changing perceptions of HP Inc.
     

Definition of ABM

Three Pillars for Execution

The CDH accounts were an ideal proving ground for marketing’s new ABM approach. The program’s effectiveness rested on three pillars:

Intelligence and Analytics – Lacking first-party data on these accounts, marketing turned to third-party data from ABM solutions partners to build tools, refine targeting, and gauge results. Data sets were chosen to provide an effective interface with sales. They included: customer intelligence and contact information; engagement on HP.com; and the degree of web engagement.

ABM Targeting and Personalization – The goal was to target and personalize outreach to prospects by digitally surrounding CDH accounts. Tactics included customized advertising and social posts, personalized emails, tailored direct marketing, and invitations to select events. Personalizing the outreach resulted in a 15-20 percent bump in response rates.

Enabling Sales – As marketing lacked an opt-in relationship with CDH accounts, they created sales tactics to elicit interest, consideration, and preference among their targets. Sales and marketing alignment was seamless with close reporting and information sharing between the two teams.
 

Paying Off the ABM Journey

The ABM program was an overwhelming success for HP Inc., driving penetration and conversion of CDH accounts well beyond the company’s expectations. Some notable success points were:

  • 77 percent of the initial 400 CDH account targets engaged with the HP Inc. campaigns
  • 12 percent of these accounts converted to won business
  • The “new logos” translated into millions in added revenues
  • Burnished marketing’s reputation within HP Inc., substantiated its contributions to the overall business, and transformed ABM skeptics to converts; program also serves as a model for other groups within HP Inc.

“The most important takeaway is that no account is ever too cold, dead, or hostile,” explains Scott Cannon, Senior Manager, U.S. Commercial Marketing at HP Inc., one of the architects and co-leader of the ABM effort with Mary Carse, Senior ABM Strategist at HP Inc.

For more information on HP Inc.’s use of a One-to-One ABM program as the foundation to address its critical business need, read our Case Study, HP Inc. Breathing Life into Cold, Dead, and Hostile Accounts, or download our webcast on their ITSMA 2018 Marketing Excellence Award-winning program, Deepening Engagements and Accelerating Growth among Cold, Dead, and Hostile Accounts. 

 

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