The rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in recent years has moved the approach to the top of many marketers’ priority lists. But launching new ABM programs effectively requires support and understanding far beyond the marketing department. To ensure success, you need to invest in internal education, set clear expectations, and build alignment with sales and other key stakeholders.
A new ITSMA Viewpoint, Lessons from ABM Leaders, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the development of three successful programs with Raianne Reiss, Director, Americas Marketing, Juniper Networks, David Armijo, Services Marketing Director, Microsoft Corporation, and Scott Sobers, Vice President, ABM and Americas Marketing, Teradata. This excerpt from the Viewpoint highlights the critical first steps they took to define ABM strategy and build a foundation for future success.
Getting Started with ABM
David Armijo, Microsoft: When I got the job three years ago to work with our field marketing organizations, I sought feedback right away from my sales colleagues and heard two main questions. First, how can we improve our relationship with sales? Second, how do we get more focused and create more impact? Our customers are bombarded with content, so sales and marketing need to work together to find a better way to engage them and provide a more holistic experience.
After listening to this feedback, we decided to do account-based marketing, which was an entirely new way to do marketing for us. Our organization was focused on scale and one-to-many events. We wanted to get better focused on our customers and their needs, which allowed us to transform a product marketing overview to a solution conversation with the customer in the center. ABM brings together the concept of understanding your customer and their imperatives with an improved focus on their opportunities to transform or provide positive impact to their business.
I thought everyone would agree and say, “This is great!” But no one did. Instead, there was a lot of resistance. You’re going to hear a lot of things like, “What? Why? How are we going to do this?” You need to be prepared for that. So I had to take the time to build the case for “why.”
We decided to go ahead with a Strategic ABM approach about two years ago, and it’s been a change management journey since then. Training has been critical. We brought in ITSMA for ABM training and certification. We’ve already certified about 15 people and are growing that program substantially.
Raianne Reiss, Juniper Networks: Everyone has limited resources and funding, and deciding to implement an ABM program will be no exception. You’ll likely need to make a concerted decision to stop doing some activities to invest in an ABM pilot. As you go along, other trade-offs will be necessary to scale. You’ll also find that the ROI on ABM is so much higher compared to other marketing activities that you will be able to easily justify the increased investments. The hard part is figuring out which activities you are going to stop doing in order to make those investments.
Scott Sobers, Teradata: First, find someone who has done this before. You will need guidance along the way—find your Sherpa. Everyone defines ABM differently, so you need to tailor it for your organization, and showing progress early is essential.
Next, make sure sales is in the foxhole with you. You need to have agreement on the plan, approach, and who is responsible for what…it’s a true partnership.
Third, start with a handful of accounts so you can really focus on what works, what doesn’t work, and have the ability to identify gaps in your processes and technology before you try to scale. For us, we’ve grown from 12 to 50 accounts. We have learned a lot along the way. Our next challenge is improving operational efficiency. When you scale, you’ll find those little hairline cracks, exposing gaps in your strategy.
For the complete conversation, check out Lessons from ABM Leaders, an ITSMA Viewpoint available at no charge to ITSMA members (password required) and for sale to everyone else.
ABM leaders from Juniper, Microsoft, and Teradata explain steps in defining ABM strategy, educating the organization, and alignment with key stakeholders.