The recent gathering of the B2B Marketing world’s leading figures highlights the enormous investments being made in ABM and its associated components in 3 key areas - Data, Sales & Marketing Alignment & Customer Focus
‘Accelerating your revenue engine through alignment’ was the overall banner headline for the latest Sirius Decisions Summit held in Austin, and despite a number of the ‘usual-suspect’ subjects featuring heavily during the event, there was a whole heap of practical advice that emanated from one of the marketing industry’s most significant gatherings.
The key findings centre around three areas and I’d like to delve a little deeper into each one:
Account Based Marketing - the absolute prevalence at this conference
Data - which seemed to feature in all events
Sales and Marketing alignment - a huge topic with organisational implications for all businesses
Let’s take a closer look at the discussions that took place………
Account Based Marketing - ABM
Firstly it was apparent that this subject is and was absolutely at the core of the Summit. At least a dozen official sessions, approximately 30 case studies and countless discussions centred around ABM.
ABM is now mainstream and while Clients and agencies may not have all the answers around platforms, processes or approach, the fog is lifting somewhat. It should be said that the Sirius event delivered at a tactical level and was, in the main, geared to delivering actionable insights for attendees.
In the ABM space things have started morphing as companies refine their ABM approaches and a natural evolution of the discipline is upon us.
Yes, by now we have all heard of ABM, but DBM (Deal Based Marketing), PABM (Partner ABM) and EBM (Everything Based Marketing) all featured as the ABM space naturally moves into other areas of revenue generation and other departments. This says to me that the industry is happy with ABM and is considering specialisms within that strategy to assist in other areas - if the approach works, why not.
At Sherpa, we are certainly looking at Deal Based Marketing for clients facing large contract renewals and next month will embark on a programme for a global tech vendor where we look to support Net-Newacquisition. This will be where an opportunity has already been initiated, but needs significant resource to develop and ultimately close, over a long sales cycle. The key to this Net New activity will be the creation of the Decision Making Unit and the Sales & Marketing alignment process we bring to bear within the programme.
This will feature a very specific breakdown of tasks within a marketing and sales funnel, utilising multiple specialists from our in-house team around data, creative, Inside Sales and sales outreach combined with real insight from the Client sales team.
With ABM dominating proceedings and a huge amount of discussion around the future path, it is clear that the natural evolution is likely to be the coupling of ABM with Portfolio Marketing - which featured in embryonic form at the event - develop over time; both are subjects Sherpa will be featuring in its event series later in the year.
Data data everywhere - 95% of conversations around ABM, Alignment, insight, etc - you name it, they all came back to data at some point!
The availability of data - do you buy, build, partner - was a key topic of conversation and it’s clear there is no one ‘right’ solution. Sector specific requirements abounded and we see different types of tech organisation take different paths here. We continue to build data sets for clients, depending on geography, market sizing, route to market and around 10 other factors.
It’s safe to say we have NEVER engaged with a new Client and found their data ready to go - it just doesn't happen - often our clients make data a big part of our initial engagement. But fix the data we do, as it is absolutely critical to the success of any ABM, Channel ABM or Demand Gen effort. Any agency you talk to should have made the necessary investments in data platforms to deliver ABM, without it you start in a very poor place. At Sherpa we have partnered with Discover.org and Kompass, both global GDPR compliant platforms which provide us with the most accurate, actionable, and comprehensive B2B prospect intelligence. This ensures that data is not a stumbling point for any of our client’s campaigns, as it’s an integral element of running ABM programmes.
Sales & Marketing Alignment and Beyond…...
This was one of those areas that certainly got a lot of attention and rightly so in my opinion. Having run ABM programmes with direct and Channel sales teams over the last 2 years this is an area of B2B marketing that is developing at an incredible pace. Done well, where sales teams are engaged, ABM accounts are selected systematically and fairly and a constant feedback loop is engendered, this becomes the area where ABM succeeds of fails.
Some of the stats on show backed this up - this one from Marisa Kopec really caught the eye, “Our research proves it over and over – organisations that maintain a focus on alignment achieve up to 19% faster revenue growth and up to 15% higher profitability.”
In terms of pushing the alignment story on further - why does this have to stop at sales alignment - why not align with other teams in an organisation - Customer Success, Account Management, Ops - a truly aligned organisation should include other functions and actually may include the majority of functions within a company.
During the activation phase for any ABM program we find ourselves spending a large amount of time with Client sales teams, in fact, it is critical that we develop a deep understanding of the sales objectives for any account - miss this step and your ABM program can fail.
As ABM has become a more common place initiative across marketing teams, it is evolving as people become more accustomed to its most basic principles. More teams are being brought in to ABM programmes and the fusion of the more basic ABM processes with strategic end to end business initiatives will be the future of this marketing movement. However, at the tactical level it is still important to get the fundamental principles – namely data, personalisation and sales and marketing alignment – right.
Investment in ABM continues at pace and to protect these investments the creation of processes that create complete cohesion not just between sales and marketing, but between all internal client operations are now vital.
Get these steps right and you can guarantee a suitable ABM foundation for success that also allows evolution. The Sirius Decisions Summit corroborated a lot of what we know about ABM and we will see ever more sophisticated and enhanced ABM campaigns morph into more tactical, revenue driven programmes impacting all departments in an organisation.