Focus on ABM: Get in the Trenches with Sales

King of Prussia, PA (April 19, 2019) – We had the pleasure of starting our day with 23 B2B marketers from the greater Philadelphia area who came out to Founding Farmers in King of Prussia to break bread and learn more about ABM. Our facilitator was Nancy Harlan, Head of Global Strategic Account Marketing at Qlik, who shared her ABM success story and informed us of the path, hurdles, and wins along the way.

ABM is a new term for an uber-focused strategic account plan. If you as a marketer want deeper penetration into key accounts, focus on ABM. Here’s the how.

First, your marketing team needs to focus on the appropriate components of an ABM program—it requires a combination of planning, digital, custom campaigns, and events. Next, focus on the sales team, the sales process and collaborating with them to identify white space that leads to key growth areas. You and your team must be integrated in the sales process to be successful. Then, leverage data and experience, prioritize by industry vertical and line of business, and identify key accounts to find your ideal client profile. Lastly, focus on large opportunities and assist sales in making them as big as it can be. Start small and scale the program as you add the right resources to the marketing team. For example, Nancy started with herself and a team of one marketer, working on 50 targeted accounts.

You Don’t Know Who You Don’t Know: Identify Accounts
You can’t reach an audience that you don’t know. Find and get to know your ideal customers with account profiling and intelligence gathering activities. To help you identify new contacts, gather business intelligence, and obtain predictive analytics, check out tools such as DiscoverOrg, Leadbridge, Leadspace, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, 6Sense, and Lattice Engines, to name a few. To take it to the next level, add a layer of Artificial Intelligence to create personas and score prospects and customers that fall within your ideal client profile.

How does Marketing get ABM Buy-In?
Two words (a few more syllables). Executive sponsorship. You need a champion to secure your seat at the proverbial table. Having your CMO buy in to the program is key, but even more important is the head of sales.

Once you have sales on board and you find a willing account rep ready to make the big deal, set a sales quota for marketing. Whether it is campaign measurement and touchpoints, measurement of partnership between a customer and your company, or another metric, having a sales quota will keep everyone accountable. It can also help show the impact you are making in pipeline growth. Next, work one-to-one with the account rep on your ABM plan. Work with them to help your team determine the appropriate marketing activities to engage with the targeted account and specific buyer persona. Then execute. When you win the first big deal, use that success story as a proof point to the execs. Results speak volumes, so first show them how and why ABM works, then ask for buy-in and an executive champion. Nancy has built the Qlik ABM program to include 110 accounts, and as she proved success to sales and the executive team, she was able to grow her team to 6 global marketers strong.

The last tip here, and potentially the most important – marketing must always be watching the pipeline so you are tracking progress and are ready to pivot your tactical approach quickly if needed. Whether it is a course correction or an add-on, it is smart to continually add new components to your ABM program.

The Tactical Side of ABM
The thing with ABM is that once you start, it is always on. You can choose one tactic or many for ABM, as long as you are reaching the contact at the right time, in the right place, on the right device, with the right content.

ABM tactics can mean many things, starting with line of business- and industry-specific campaigns that include email opt-in campaigns, direct mail, webinars, or roundtable events. Another tactic is retargeting, also called remarketing, which is a way to build awareness for your brand and drive clicks to your website, using custom landing pages for tracking. Don’t forget the executive crowd – they enjoy VIP experiences, events, and briefings – so be sure to include ABM tactics that cater to this audience for a well-rounded program.

Sales and Marketing Unite with ABM Success
Nancy was on her way home after a long and arduous trade show schedule and received a phone call from her manager. She started asking questions and sending emails about the ABM program. Worried that something went awry with the program and she was on the hot seat, Nancy called her manager. Much to her surprise, her manager delivered a congratulatory message to Nancy for being the first marketer to receive a Qlik Americas MVP Award from the sales team at their national meeting. The award recognized Nancy for being the non-sales person who most supported the Sales Team in their success over the past year. As a marketer, you will recognize that this was groundbreaking.

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