The Marketing Strategist:

Scaling ABM in the Real World: Fujitsu’s Example

October 22, 2015

We talked last month about the challenges of effectively scaling an account based marketing (ABM) program after a successful pilot. There are many factors involved, not the least of which is adapting to the realities of an imperfect world. Whereas most ABM pilots have the benefit of handpicked staff and a relative abundance of resources to help make them successful, few programs are equally well resourced when they increase in size and scope. Rare is the ABM program leader who has the luxury of hiring a whole team of experienced, full-time ABMers and earmarking the supporting resources required.

So what can a marketing leader faced with less-than-perfect options do?

The answer, as shown by Andrea Clatworthy and the team at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, is some creative thinking and a determined focus on execution. Clatworthy and her team had successfully piloted ABM in three accounts when the company’s leadership decided to shift focus from winning new business to growing existing accounts. For Clatworthy, it was clear that expanding the ABM program and de-emphasizing new lead generation was the right marketing strategy to support this business objective. Less obvious was how to do it.

With a plan to expand the ABM program from 3 accounts to 58, Clatworthy’s biggest challenge was staffing. No open headcount meant she didn’t have the option of adding to her handful of dedicated ABMers. Instead, she took a radical approach: train everyone in her marketing team of 58 to be an ABMer.

Her thinking behind this decision was twofold. First, she needed all the resources she could get. While everyone was trained in ABM, they wouldn’t be doing it full time. They would devote 10−20% of their work time to ABM, time that was created by scaling back on efforts previously devoted to generating new business. Second, she wanted everyone steeped in the ABM approach and way of thinking. That way, they would all be well equipped to rethink the rest of their responsibilities—things like executive engagement, the quarterly magazine, and PR— to better support ABM.

Though Clatworthy’s staffing innovation was the centerpiece of her approach to scaling ABM, it wasn’t the only critical element. She also devoted significant effort to supporting staff, selecting accounts, developing frameworks and templates, and working effectively with account teams. She responded to unforeseen issues as they arose. For example, she created a transfer window that allowed the business units and marketing to negotiate some modifications to the accounts in the program part way through the year.

Fujitsu’s innovative approach to scaling ABM is paying off. The business units have completely bought into the value of ABM. Dramatic turnarounds in a few key accounts and wins in priority new accounts point to the financial impact the expanded program has had. Customer relationships have expanded and deepened. Formalized reference summaries of customers hit 86% of existing customers—impressive despite falling short of Clatworthy’s goal of 100%.

For more detail on how Clatworthy and her team have so successfully scaled their ABM program, read Scaling ABM: A New Approach at Fujitsu.

Want the latest news from ITSMA?

Subscribe to our newsletters and alerts for ITSMA blog posts, research publications, events, and more.

Further reading