Successful marketing is often about sending the right personalized message and reaching the right customer at the right time. With Account-Based Marketing (ABM), Marketing and Sales teams work together to create effective customized campaigns for best-fit prospects, ultimately shortening sales cycles and yielding higher returns.
So, how exactly do ABM experts partner with internal teams and leverage technology to generate successful marketing campaigns?
Denise Jack, VP of ABM & Field Marketing at Coupa Software and Jenny Hooks, Leader of Americas Field Marketing at Cisco, share their insights in this discussion on MTM’s Marketer 411 series.
Think about the holistic account-based “Experience.”
Jenny Hooks (Cisco):
At Cisco, we’re aligning on the meaning of “account-based,” which is about the account-based experience. Many go to high-touch marketing for high-value customers, but this is only one piece.
Account-Based Marketing is an integrated sales and marketing approach that aligns resources to the highest growth opportunities.
We consider the customers with the most opportunity to benefit from our products and services: What are we investing in them? How is marketing covering them? How are we aligning with sales to drive those outcomes?
Denise Jack (Coupa):
Marketing’s job is to help sales win bigger and win more. You can do a lot from a marketing standpoint that helps drive and deliver a consistent message to prospective buyers. Moreso, it’s about looking at it not as a singular marketing touch but by ensuring the sum is greater than its parts.
There’s a journey buyers go through to understand the value we deliver, and ABM allows us to deliver that journey consistently.
Refine your ABM strategy to scale effectively.
When I started at Coupa, our Account-Based Marketing team supported our enterprise segment, which deals with organizations with $1B+ in revenue. Shortly after, our ABM journey started supporting these large deals. You can see the 1:1 standpoint with custom digital advertising and tailored messaging there. When we saw the momentum, sales asked: how do we get ABM to support the rest of our pipeline? That’s when we started doing both 1:1 and 1:Few ABM.
Our 1:Few ABM is centered around either a common business pain point or industries where we have a high propensity to win.
We’re starting with the 1:Many and working our way up to the 1:Few and 1:1. It’s been ingrained in us that we exist for scale and to reach as many customers as possible. As time has gone on, we’ve evolved to redefine scale.
We can scale to customers who have shared outcomes, which helps us think more into the 1:Few space. This approach does not scale to everyone but to clusters of accounts with similar attributes and values.
We lay it out as a pyramid and consider: what are the right levels of investment to do 1:1 marketing really well? We’ve built our brand value on the 1:Many and being a scaling engine for the company. Now we apply the “test and learn” approach to determine how to scale effectively.
Focus on the measurable impacts of Account-Based Marketing.
As marketers, we know that there’s inherent value in brand reach, ad impressions, and click-through rates. But when you distill that down to metrics, you’ll lose non-marketers in seconds. We focus on the marketing source pipeline, both direct and partner.
However, not all business comes cleanly through the funnel, so we also have a marketing engaged metric. Many deals originate with sales, but customers often come directly to us via digital channels that play a role in influencing that deal and validating decisions.
There are two forms: metrics on the sourcing and pipeline generation and metrics on the impact to revenue. To get buy-in from sales leaders, we look at the results. We show the measurable impact of accounts in an ABM campaign versus those that are not.
Accounts in an ABM campaign result in higher average ACV (annual contract value) and more engagement with various stakeholders during the sales cycles.
We want Sales to understand the larger perspective of what we’re trying to do and how that aligns with their objectives.
Through examining the average sales cycle, are we helping shorten it? Although it’s more successful in certain parts of the business over others, there is more engagement overall. Through an orchestration like an ABM campaign, we can help all business areas become less single-threaded and drive more of that education across different roles. This is a significant driver in how we’re shifting our go-to-market strategy at Coupa.
Align Marketing and Sales to simplify the buying process.
Every sales professional has a different perspective on the value marketers bring to the table. As part of our ABX transformation, we’ve been clear on what sales can expect from field marketing.
We’ve benefited from a strong relationship between sales and marketing to get to a high level of alignment.
It requires trust, which is reinforced by demonstrating results and growth from the accounts marketing is focused on. Bringing strong data to the table allows us to lead these conversations and reinforce why we’re moving in this direction.
Show incremental successes along the way. A deal may take a while to close, but throughout the sales cycle, if you can demonstrate success through the strategy, the deal will be more comprehensive.
The goal would be that when you meet with the CFO of a company, they’ve already heard about Coupa—demonstrating the influence marketing can drive.
It’s undeniable how complex the buying process is for sellers and customers to navigate. This is an opportunity for sellers to grasp the role marketing can play in terms of aligning conversations we’re having across different roles in the buying committee and scaling within a single customer account.
Utilize technology to move deals forward.
We’re fortunate that our marketing intelligence team supports us and builds great dashboards in Tableau. We feed in data from various sources and see the impact within an account holistically. Our team is skilled with digital advertising tools (LinkedIn, Demandbase).
When we integrated direct mail into the overall campaign strategy, we brought in Sendoso. We recently invested in Folloze, a solution that drives accounts to dedicated microsites with the relevant information they need.
These technologies help us see who’s engaging and how we can better understand our buyer personas.
We’re scaling out 6Sense, an intent-based platform that helps orchestrate intent signals from customers. We use Folloze as a sales outreach platform to drive personalized experiences.
With Salesforce, our CRM, we can see what the seller sees and how they view the customer. This enables business-oriented conversations about the biggest opportunities within the pipeline and how marketing can help move deals forward.
Standardizing marketing to work how our sellers’ work drives alignment and integrated planning between marketing and sales.
Add empathy and curiosity to your go-to-market plan.
Everyone can learn technical skills, but the real magic comes from the art of being empathetic to the customer. If the customer wins, we win. Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and build strategic go-to-market plans around that; this skill set is valuable.
When hiring, I look for a person with a sense of curiosity. This translates well into understanding both the customer and our internal teams and how we can resolve their struggles. It’s finding the people who want to become more well-rounded.
Meet the Experts
Denise Jack, VP of ABM & Field Marketing at Coupa Software: Denise Jack is the VP of Field and Account-Based Marketing at Coupa Software, responsible for leading North America’s marketing organization whose mission is to develop and execute an account-focused marketing strategy that builds, influences, and accelerates revenue. Prior to Coupa, Denise held leadership positions leading customer success and field marketing across SaaS organizations at various stages of their growth. She started her career in technology and management consulting at Accenture and graduated with a degree in Business Administration and Psychology from UC Berkeley.
Jenny Hooks, Leader of Americas Field Marketing at Cisco: Jenny Hooks leads a talented organization of marketers who enable Cisco customers and prospects to make strategic, thoughtful, and educated business and technology decisions by designing and executing data-driven, account-based campaigns. Over her 15+ year career, Jenny has led multiple disciplines including Digital, Media, Revenue Marketing, Field Marketing, and Channel Partner Marketing. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and 7 year old son, and is proud to serve as CMO on the Board of Directors for Rising Above the Storms – a non-profit organization that provides access to critical human needs for the world’s at-risk youth.