In late 2016, I was on a panel with Megan Lueders at the MarTech Conference. Once we hit the topic of “how to start ABM,” the entire room lit up with questions. I was blown away by Megan’s thoughtful and concise responses. It was abundantly clear that ABM was on everyone’s mind, yet many were struggling to get started.
Here we are two years later, and many marketing leaders are still asking the same questions. In fact, I recently heard Megan on an interview explaining how to start and succeed with ABM. I decided I needed to capture her brilliance in an interview so the Engagio audience can benefit from her wisdom.
Megan is the CMO of Zenoss, a software company that works with the world’s largest organizations to ensure their IT services and applications are always on. She’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to B2B marketing.
Please enjoy my conversation with Megan!
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Brandon: How do marketing leaders make a case for ABM to their board and executive team?
Megan: Before suggesting ABM to your board or executive team, the first step is to align with your core stakeholders. In most cases, this will be your VP/Director of Sales and VP/Director of Customer Success. Make certain the definition of, steps required, and metrics associated with your ABM strategy are agreed upon before taking it to the executive team.
Once outlined, co-present the ABM strategy to your extended leadership team. ABM requires both Sales and Marketing to work hand in hand, so it’s essential for your team, peers, and the board to see this alignment from the beginning. Ensure your presentation highlights why you and your sales colleague is pursuing this strategy, how it works with traditional marketing efforts and measurements, especially since is what your board is familiar with, and when they can expect to see results (which won’t be overnight). Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to reiterate these very points and explain the difference measurement criterion in subsequent board meetings.
Brandon: What does success look like? How long should you wait to decide if ABM is going to be successful?
Megan: Most important to implementing ABM is to understand that this is not “just another program”; rather it’s a modern way of “doing.” ABM is a continuous evolution of your Sales and Marketing process. Along the way, you will invest further into aspects working well and refine other items that aren’t.
Success comes in many forms with ABM, and metrics, such as contribution to pipeline, contribution to revenue and time to close, are all important to continuously track and measure. However, on a weekly basis, you may look at more core ABM metrics, such as awareness and engagement within an account, and evaluate what altered those results week over week. For example, was it an outreach activity or a direct mailer that garnered better results when targeting Tier 2 accounts, and how did those tactics perform when targeting an executive vs. a manager?
Piloting your ABM program with a Sales territory or select Sales reps is an excellent way to embark upon the new strategy. It allows you to test multiple Marketing and Sales activities before rolling out more extensively and offers a benchmark for what success should look like on a larger scale. A pilot offers insight into if ABM is ideal for your organization and set realistic expectations as to when results will be realized. What’s important is giving your ABM pilot a long enough runway to evaluate success and truly evaluate, test and challenge all aspects.
For example, perhaps it was the email message that didn’t resonate or that you only targeted one type of contact. Regardless, after a true six months joint engagement between the teams you’ll know your onto something when targeted accounts respond to sales outreach, proactively visit the website, and schedule a meeting. And when it’s time to roll out ABM more broadly, you’ll now have small subset of Sales to serve as an ABM ambassador to their peers. This will undoubtedly expedite the adoption and acceptance of new tools, techniques, and processes.
Regardless of the metrics, ABM is a journey and will take some time (and a lot of trial and error) to fully outline the perfect recipe for success at your organization.
Brandon: What should you include in your ABM scorecard?
Megan: Once your ABM program is up and running, you’ll want to take a look at a few key metrics and ensure they are understood and shared between both Sales and Marketing. Creating an “ABM Dashboard” is quite helpful in providing full transparency to the teams.
Assuming your accounts are classified by tiers, evaluate your tiers based on the following:
- MQAs (marketing qualified accounts)
- MQAs by Rep
- SQL by Stage
- Demand Units (Expansion)
- New Logo
- Open Pipeline
- Closed Pipeline
A board’s interest will always be on contribution to the pipeline and contribution to revenue. However, changes to deal velocity, deal size, deal expansion, time to implement, cost of acquisition, ACV relative to non-ABM accounts are excellent metrics to present when appropriate.
Brandon: How do you balance traditional marketing with ABM?
Megan: A “balance” between traditional marketing and ABM will look differently for each company, and it will certainly evolve as more results are derived from your ABM efforts. The good news is that the convergence of both forms are marketing are happening right before our eyes with the success of traditional efforts now including metrics and/or outcomes from your ABM accounts.
A great example of this is events. While exhibiting at a tradeshow is a traditional marketing program that provides branding and leads, the number of meetings (and subsequently pipeline stage, value) occurring within your target accounts is the most important measurement of the event’s success. In other words, start layering additional ABM metrics on to your traditional event metrics, then define the strategies and tactics that will drive ABM results.
Additionally, traditional Marketing programs can be strengthened by taking this same approach and observing trends within accounts, contacts, titles, etc. on the ABM side.
Brandon: How can teams get started with ABM?
Megan: Before taking the first big step toward your ABM strategy, align with your Sales and Customer Success counterparts. Once those three departments are in sync on what, how, who, and when, the ABM efforts can begin. Engagio’s Clear and Concise Guide to ABM is an excellent resource that outlines those steps and offers suggestions on tools and templates to expedite the process.
Brandon: What has been the most significant factor in your success at ABM?
Megan: Without a doubt it’s alignment. Marketing can purchase tools, create programs, identify accounts, append contacts and handle operational workflows with little sales assistance if necessary (certainly not recommended) but without the sales team and sales leadership’s active participation in strategy, execution and discipline of ABM it’s hard to achieve any of the desired results.
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