ABM for CMOs: Why B2M Marketing Executives Must Pay Attention to the Changing Times

The State of ABM

January 17, 2019

The State of ABM

Editor's Note: This guest post was contributed by Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder of Engagio. 

According to a recent benchmark study by the ITSMA, 87% of companies report that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other type of marketing (August, 2017).

B2B demand generation has almost completely reinvented itself over the last decade. Account Based Marketing (ABM) is fast emerging as a new discipline that helps companies land bigger deals by focusing on accounts that will bring them the most success.

Companies have recognized that traditional demand generation programs, and even the marketing automation tools that support them, were designed primarily for a certain kind of deal—the high velocity, short cycle, often lower value account. This has lead to the maturation of enterprise sales and marketing efforts across all industries. Marketers are recognizing that their mindset and tactics must shift and more closely align with that of sales.

Yesterday’s mantra: Capture and nurture leads, kick to sales

Today’s mantra: Land and expand as an orchestrated team

We can’t get into all the details of setting your ABM program up in this post, but Engagio recently released the Clear and Complete Guide To Account Based Marketing, 2nd Edition which does exactly that.

Why CMO’s Should Care about ABM

There are too many compelling reasons to not take ABM seriously. As an executive at your company, these tie closely to the outcomes you’re responsible for. Adopting this new go-to-market strategy affects CMOs, VPs and marketing leaders everywhere.

CMOs implementing ABM are realizing the following benefits:

Close alignment with sales
ABM tightly integrates your sales and marketing teams, and aligned teams drive value. How much value? According to SiriusDecisions, alignment drives 36% more business growth and 27% faster profit growth.

Chances are this isn’t the first time you heard this challenge. In fact, organizations have been talking about it for years. Mary Shea and Shanta Samlal-Fadelle from Forrester Research wrote in their 2017 report, “The misalignment between sales and marketing teams continues to be a hot topic, even after a decade of B2B firms trying to solve this problem.”

Sales and Marketing alignment means having shared goals and responsibilities, speaking the same language, leveraging the same data, and utilizing the same tools.

Strong brand recognition
ABM allows you to establish and cultivate trust with your customers, thereby building a strong brand over time.

With the traditional demand generation approach where volume and velocity was emphasized, there was an increasing pressure to do more. The advent of sales automation tools enabled reps to blast prospects en masse. This results in a “scorched earth.” When you send an irrelevant message to anyone and everyone but only about the people who respond, you risk hurting your reputation of those who don’t respond. In other words, you’re damaging your brand.

However, if you take the time to utilize the core tenants of ABM and take the time to send a personal and relevant message to a targeted audience, you are building trust and a strong brand.

Marketing owns the customer journey
ABM guides intelligent account expansion at existing customer accounts. As you move up in the enterprise, companies rely more on expansion revenue to grow business. In order to deal effectively with complex accounts and multiple buying units, teams must coordinate their efforts.

In ABM, all customer-facing teams work in harmony to ensure a buyer’s experience is positive, consistent, and in context with the rest of the account. It’s about providing a holistic view of each account, coordinating interactions across departments for every stage of the customer experience, and measuring results with an account-centric lens.

The right person to own the coordination and orchestration of the relationships is marketing because they have the technology and skills to do so.

“Marketing orchestration is an approach to marketing that focuses not on delivering standalone campaigns, but instead on optimizing a set of related cross-channel interactions that, when added together, make up an individualized customer experience.” - Forrester Research

New strategic advisor
As marketers have become the owner of the customer journey and are given more responsibility, they have established their seat at the table. More executives, especially the CEO turn to the marketer for key business decisions.

This expansion of responsibility for customer engagement beyond marketing activities indicates that the future role of the CMO is bright. Harvard Business Review explains that more CEOs are making the shift to a customer-focused growth strategy, and CMOs are stepping up to drive organization-wide change to improve the customer experience.

According to the CMO Council, the majority of CEOs today – nearly 70% – believe that CMOs should be leading revenue growth.

Increased customer satisfaction
ABM consistently delivers the personal and relevant experience that customers demand. So leaders have turned to what ultimately drives growth: creating value for the customer and using new technologies to transform the customer experience.

According to Harvard Business Review, “The most customer-centric companies are the ones outperforming their competitors and raising the bar on customer expectations.”

“Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed an expansion of the CMO mandate, from what was largely a promotional role to what is now often seen as the growth engine for the business.” – Jake Sorofman, Vice President, Gartner Research

Managing the Change that Comes with ABM

It’s natural human behavior to inherently reject change, as the fear of the unknown is real. But, as Peter Drucker said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Learning how to manage change is a critical part of implementing any initiative successfully. The companies who recognize the need for active change management to guide their ABM programs are often the ones who see the quickest success.

One of the biggest changes happens on the marketing side, where a department used to being measured by the number of leads generated is now measured by down-funnel metrics and quality of engagement with targeted accounts. Don’t underestimate this change, and don’t expect it to happen simply because you announced the new goals and metrics. The biggest change that ABM demands of the Sales and Marketing teams is to embrace the new relationship with their new teammates.

The key here is to start with account reps who are open to this kind of relationship, then prove it out with an ABM pilot program. Show the positive effects of ABM.

Once you’ve proven some early success, the ongoing progress reinforces the effectiveness of the ABM strategy. In well-run ABM programs, the only challenge is that more reps will want to be included than the program can accommodate!

“Management often has a difficult time justifying a full-time marketer focused on 3-5 ABM accounts that might help generate 20 new contacts and 5 opportunities when a junior marketer may create 500 new contacts and 100 opportunities. Of course, the value between those scenarios is vast, but the change in mindset is significant.” – Kathy Macchi, Inverta

Here’s What To Do Next

Ready to get started with ABM? Engagio recently released the Clear and Complete Guide To Account Based Marketing, 2nd Edition. This is your blueprint for building a world-class ABM program.

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