Building a successful ABM program for an organization can be a herculean task. To build a successful ABM program for three companies? That will get your name etched in stone and talked about in marketing lore for years to come.
Aligning teams. Managing change. Trying new things. Chasing larger numbers. Closing complex deals. This is what legends are made of.
In writing Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, Second Edition, I had the pleasure of speaking with one such marketing luminary, Peter Herbert. Peter is the CMO at FullStory, the app that captures all your customer experience data in one powerful, easy-to-use platform. And yes, Peter has led successful ABM programs as the CMO of three companies, two of which are Engagio customers (FullStory and VersionOne).
It’s not that often you get to know someone with that level of experience. That’s why I took this opportunity to sit down with Peter to capture some of the wisdom he has gleaned over this storied career.
Without further ado, enjoy my conversation with Peter Herbert.
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Brandon: When you arrived at FullStory, how did you approach building your ABM program within the Sales and Marketing organizations that were already in place?
Peter: At FullStory, the goal of ABM is to be as thoughtful and coordinated as possible as we work to create personal experiences for the right people at accounts that fit our ideal customer profile (ICP). ABM allows us to apply a laser focus on the segments of the market that are an extremely good fit for our product.
In addition to helping us intentionally target segments of new customers, ABM helps us focus our resources on engaging and creating more value for current customers. ABM is perfect for – yet underutilized – for post-sale opportunities.
Brandon: From your experience at VersionOne, Terminus and now FullStory, what is the key to success in ABM?
Peter: The single most important key to success is focusing on operationalizing ABM to create great buyer and customer experiences. It’s certainly not enough to decide to execute one campaign, implement one technology, or simply become ‘customer-centric.’ You have to wire up your system to help people do the right things at the right time.
Some signs that you’re on the right path are:
- You have documented ICPs and buyer personas
- You have a data-driven process for TAM identification, account selection, and account prioritization
- The account data in CRM and ABM platforms line up and include: Segmentation, target tiers, account profile data, fit score, intent data, engagement data, account stage, MQA status
- You have account-centric measurement in place, including: account funnels, ABM scorecard, account-scoring (MQA)
- You have lead-to-account matching
- Sales and Customer Success provided insights into account engagement for both anonymous and known contacts in CRM. Account-based web engagement is a data point while aggregated, detailed views per contact of anonymous and known people at the account-level are true insight.
This is all built to enable your go-to-market team to deliver the most optimized experiences for your users, at scale.
Brandon: How can organizations manage the change that comes with ABM?
Peter: It starts with getting a collective buy that is focused on the sweet spot of the market. We now have new frameworks and technology that enable more efficient, selective, and targeted, go-to-market tactics. In addition, we have data platforms that are accessible for account building and that deliver the necessary data points and signals to point the laser at the right people, in the right accounts. For many companies, it’s a completely logical choice to implement these practices.
Companies should be less concerned about ‘doing ABM’ than creating the most effective go-to-market approach. Since many broad-based, high-volume, lead-based, and inbound/outbound practices are so entrenched, there’s change management involved. Here are some ways to ensure you are set up for success:
- The entire leadership team must agree on the change, including people, processes, systems, and metrics.
- Clearly define and document the business case for ABM.
- Your champions and executive sponsors should be identified and present on each team (Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and anyone else involved in ABM).
- Create an ABM roadmap that identifies the initiatives and projects across different themes, such as Training, Process, Metrics, Operations, Programs.
- Measure from day 1 using an ABM scorecard.
- Champion learning in your organization – invest in giving people time to be exposed to high-quality ABM events, visiting experts, or even outside help.
Brandon: How can organizations make sure they’re selecting target accounts correctly?
Peter: I recommend a data-driven approach. Take your ICP definition, use data platforms to build as much of your TAM as possible, and mark your high-fit accounts in your CRM. Next, segment them by industry and size, so you can understand which segments may be the most valuable and where your best use cases apply. Then use signals such as intent and engagement to help you prioritize.
Marketing should pull together account lists, then sit down with sales to validate them at regular intervals, Use emerging data to quickly prioritize high-fit accounts that may not currently be in an active status for targeting. This approach is often referred to as FIRE (Fit, Intent, Recency, Engagement), and it is a killer approach to improving tactics and sales insight that add up to dramatically better account conversion.
Brandon: What are the 3 key things that organizations need to do to get started with ABM?
Peter: Start with alignment across your executive team. I advocate for the CMO to lead the effort and be the catalyst for collaboration.
Second, clearly define your ICP, which allows you to build your database of high-fit accounts and contacts.
Lastly, invest in a platform that helps you operationalize ABM across Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success.
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One conversion in one blog post about ABM barely scratches the surface. For your blueprint to building a world-class ABM program, download Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, Second Edition. It’s a guide of epic proportions (175+ pages) with the latest and greatest ABM best practices.