In this episode, my guest is Shari Johnston, VP Marketing at Casetext and our topic is Aligning your Go To Market Strategy Around Account-Based Marketing. Account Based Marketing, Account Based Selling and Account Based Everything has been a pretty hot topic for the last two + years.
You might be wondering why I invited a marketing executive to our Conversations with Women in Sales podcast. The reason is that these days it is becoming much more common for marketers to be closely tied to sales to drive revenue results. In Shari’s case, she has also been a huge advocate for women in sales.
What are the benefits of aligning around ABM?
The term Account Based Marketing is a little misleading. Marketing isn’t the only part of the strategy. In fact, ABM is a go to market strategy that includes sales, marketing, product development and customer success.
One big benefit of the ABM approach is the ability to zero in and focus on attracting the right target customers for your business. This approach allows you to better align your dollars and people resources to generate the best-qualified leads and potential sales opportunities for your sales teams. The days of putting salespeople on the phones to call people who may have downloaded a white paper from your website is far less effective these days. Downloading website content, may or may not, be a signal that the person downloading the content is a qualified lead. The person/company may or may not fit your target customer profile. You want to be sure you are not wasting time, money and effort calling on anyone and everyone.
Is ABM just a trend or is it here to stay?
It is here to stay according to Shari. In fact, while ABM has evolved, enterprise sales teams have been following the model for some time, although perhaps not as mature in those days, we knew the approach as “named account” selling.
As more organizations are realizing the benefits of an Account Based Marketing/Account Based Selling approach, the strategies will continue to mature and evolve.
What are some common pitfalls with ABM?
The biggest pitfall from Shari’s point of view is that companies are often just not investing enough in the change management necessary to implement an ABM strategy. Evangelism must happen throughout the organization to train people on what ABM means, why it is important, what’s going to be measured, etc.
Another pitfall is not adopting a change management approach and when that doesn’t happen it then leads people back to focusing on tactical activities. The focus will shift to asking marketing how many marketing qualified leads were generated and if the answer isn’t great, that leads people to assume that ABM doesn’t work. In fact, it does work when it is executed correctly.
Often companies get started but then neglect to have the critical ongoing checkpoints necessary to keep the effort moving forward. It is not a one and done approach.
How do you measure ABM Success?
All stakeholders need to work together to determine how success will be measured. One way to get started is, to begin with, a small pilot to test and measure the activities that you want to drive the revenue and customer success metrics you’ve decided on. Things like increasing your overall pipeline contribution, shrinking the sales cycle and increasing deal profitably are certainly key measures of success.
I asked Shari if when working to implement and execute an ABM strategy if there was resistance from sales. After all, sellers often want to chase any warm body or anyone who expresses some level of interest even if they do not fit the target profile. Shari said that FOMO – fear of missing out – is an obstacle on both the sales and marketing side of the business. This is why approaching the implementation of your strategy requires taking a change management approach.
Everyone – including sales management – needs to understand how much more successful they will be in reaching their goals if you do hone in on the identified (ICP) ideal customer profile. Yes, if buyers come to you proactively with a strong interest to buy, it makes sense to talk to them. The point though is to be sure that the overall focus is on spending the bulk of your time with the targeted accounts you’ve identified. This focus ultimately leads to more profitable business.
It is also very important to onboard salespeople appropriately because they may not be familiar with ABM and the benefits of the approach.
Do you have to start over with your Martech stack for ABM?
The short answer is – no, you don’t need to scrap your entire tech stack to support your ABM strategy.
In can be as simple as taking your core marketing tech stack starting with your CRM and making sure that you’ve tagged your tiered account list. That way you have the alignment on your reporting with regard to how your key accounts are performing. You also want to be sure your key accounts are mapped back to your marketing automation system. This maintains a consistent flow of tracking, especially given that you are likely receiving inbound opportunities also. These things don’t require new technology. You can get to a basic level using what you have, which can take you a long way. Once you see the need to scale, you can look at other technologies to help you do that.
As with all my conversations with execs like Shari, the insights and information shared during our conversation are powerful. Listen to the interview HERE.
About Shari Johnston
Shari has been a marketing leader in charge of scaling organizations through leading-edge marketing strategy and execution across corporate, product and demand generation marketing functions. Shari led marketing for Radius, led integrated marketing for OpenDNS, which was acquired by Cisco, and was also a key leader in positioning Demandbase as the leader in Account-Based Marketing technology. Shari is on the board of advisors for Martech Advisor and was recently named one of the Top Women in Revenue. Shari lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons.
We’d like to thank our Elite Sponsor, Microsoft. In particular, we thank Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President and Channel Chief at Microsoft, for her dedication to supporting women in technology, and making this podcast possible. Gavriella and Microsoft are committed to giving “young women better role models and a stronger voice to all women.” You can hear more from Gavriella and other Microsoft leaders, on the Microsoft Partner Network podcast. Visit the Microsoft Partner Network.
Thanks to our Media Sponsor. Women Sales Pros has a vision for more women in B2B sales and sales leadership roles where there are currently male-majority sales teams. We help educate companies on how to do this, and we champion women on what a professional sales career can be. We also showcase the very top women sales experts who are speakers, authors, consultants, trainers, and coaches. People can sign up to get updates HERE and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WomenSalesPros