B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 6 months ago

114: Modern ABM – Personalization vs. Technology w/ Declan Mulkeen

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

One third of companies are in a mature stage of their ABM journey, one third are only a year or so into the journey, and one third haven’t even started.

ABM is still very much in its growth stage — not at all losing its momentum but rather gaining it as organizations appreciate what modern ABM can really do.

In this episode, we interview Declan Mulkeen, CMO at strategicabm, about how personalization and technology (and partnership with sales) define modern ABM.

We discussed how ABM has rebounded after the pandemic, automating ABM with vendors, the definition of modern ABM, the power of storytelling, and why ABM doesn’t work without sales teams.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for B2B Revenue Acceleration in your favorite podcast player.

You were listening to be tob revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's give him the show. Hi, welcome to be to be a REVN new acceleration. My name is only am with you and I'm here today with declan mullike in and or ad strategic ABM. Are You doing today? They can very well. Thank you and delighted to be here in the works. When you talking about B to be marketing and ABM with yourself? Yeah, well, you know, it's a subject, as I told you in the in the in the quick intrads work prout to the quite excites me a lot. So you know it's going to be, I'm sure, a great conversation. Today. We will be talking about modern what modern ABM look like. But before we get into that conversation, would you mind just giving us a little bit of background about yourself and the company you represents? Strategy in short. So, Declamo keen on the CMO of STRATEGUKBM, which is an ABM agency based just outside London but with a team of employees and clients all over the world. So kind of one of the kind of very few, one hundred percent ABM agencies that exist today, although the numbers are growing, as ABM obviously is becoming more and more popular, more and more companies and people are getting involved. And on a personal note, I've been involved in marketing and actually sales as well, for over twenty years, originally on the connect client side, working for services in a tech companies, and then the last couple of years I've moved agency side as the Cemo of a marketing agency and based in the mountains north of Madrid. So I have a beautiful view of a very, very tall mountain in front to me. So yeah, that's me. Why you're lucky. I'm just just looking outside. I've see a few trays with that a lot of leaves on them anymore and quite a few cals going on the motorway. So that's that's that has glamorous. Well, we are that this could ye, amagery is a fantastic place. So you mentioned something about abm agencies becoming more and more popular, more and more companies, more and more competition, and that's kind of make me think about one of my first question, which is, you know, abm was kind of a buzz world in two thousand and eighteen. In two thousand and seventeen. Two Thousand and eighteen we want to do ABM. ABS can be setting. We want to do abx, which is a little bit of a convert base everything. But make perception is that the ABM methodology or even the what is kind of losing a little bit his birds and he's using his momentum. Would you agree with that? That's a good question actually. Would I agree with that? I think the answers no, I wouldn't agree with it, and I think the reason why I wouldn't agree I think like you. I think you're absolutely right to say it's a buzz word. I think you're absolutely right to say it's a term that is very much used and overused perhaps in many circles. And I think you know, part of what we try to do the agency and my job as a CMO is tried to clariss by a little bit what ABM is and what ABM isn't, when it's suitable and where it's not suitable. And I think just like you know the term Sass, you know...

...software as a service. That obvious as a term that has become incredibly overused to describe almost any type of company, and I think that's very much the same case with ABM. If you go back into the annals of time at ABM has been around in its current form since about two thousand and three. One of the guests on my podcast actually be Burgess, who's consultant to Itsm. She coined the phrase back in two thousand and three and after having dinner with some people from accenture and some people from UNICIES and and it's kind of grown over the course of almost twenty years now to where we are today. But when you look at the the numbers and you look at the the amount of companies that are actually doing abm, it's quite evenly split. Actually, when we're talking to kind of prospects and future customers, it's kind of one third, one third, one third, ie. A third of companies are in a mature stage of their ABM journey, one third of companies are at least, you know, six to twelve months into their journey and then one third haven't started. So it shows you that the market is really very much in the growth stage. But I think you're right to say with anything that becomes popular and hot and buzz wordy, it kind of has some detractors as well, and I think, you know, maybe they'll. Section of ABM is that lots of people spoke about it but never really ended up doing it properly. I'M gonna come back to that because I want to speak about solutions as well at some points. But another is lots of automation and tools out there to probably do ABM at scale and to make Dr ABM process. And the moment you strayed the Morledge, you get exet ectution. We can come back to that later from me, from my perspective. Sorry, I think two thousand and twenty was the r Fada Right, and let me rephrase it because it's a bit of a world concept. But we coped eating everyone. What our clients realize? They realize that the Footsie, hundred fifty, the CAC, the ducks, the global to K. you've got companies, induced bunch of public companies that you can't address anymore. Okay, British, all weights are BND hub. You know all the people who are in leisure industry, travel industry, hotels, all these companies will probably struggling a lot of all the course of Cavits, you contrally sell to them. So we saw around, I guess, the the the targetable market or the addressable market of our clients kind of slimming down to probably eighty seventy percent of the capactier she was before. But then what happened? Is it you stee of the same number of vendors trying to sell them stuff and everybody's still got the same target. So everybody was going really out that that the company that we are left with was a potential to buy, and that's why we really saw our clients fully to actually trying to put a proper approaching place. We're trying to get a clear on the something of the accounts to start with. Is trying to get among Tho something of the Baying Centerls, the multi vadas and having compaigns and really putting all the sorts process behind it. So have you seen that as well? Less job? You seem like a kind of ABM re rebonds...

...through the bandinick. Well, I think obviously we now October, eighteen months since kind of the sizemic event of last you know, January, every march, etc. And you know companies had to invest in digital had to invest in in non in person events and obviously any type of BB marketing agency, any type of marketing department. Many, many questions we're being asked about. How can you help us grow? How can you help us engage? How can you help us win new clients? So many companies have done, you know, quite well actually during this whole period, because of this shift from in person sales led through to a much more of a kind of a digital experience, whenever one like myself harmously sitting here at home. So I think we have seen an explosion in the use of ABM. We have seen the an explosion in the use of more innovative means and methods and strategies for engaging with target accounts. So I think I would definitely concur Audien, with what you've just said. Yeah, and coming back to the point I was making, we're asking this very long winded question about solutions and about automation and and the concept that, okay, rizards must come because, as I invested a lot of money in solutions and in tools. What are your sorts on that? Do you think we can actually put to make ABM? Can need your to meet that scape. Well, I think, you know, we work with lots of Abien technology partners and we've got great, you know, relationships and we know how to use the technology. We know where to use it, when to use it. That I don't think that is the case for many people who are attempting either to do good marketing or two good, to do good abm. So the obviously the question here obviously is about ABM, but it's a wider question around marketing in general with Martech and ABM technology. I think ABM vendors, I think they've done a very, very good job in terms of how they've actually gone to market, in terms of how they've actually marketed their own solutions and how, indeed they're actually talking about ABM and talking about some of the issues that revolve around ABM and how their technology can solve it. I think the issue with technology and I think, you know, I remember one of my first guests on my own podcast was Sangrum Bardery, who's the obviously one of the CO founders at Terminus, and even sang Graham said that, you know, he would not recommend technology to a company starting abmay and he said, you know, obviously he's he said, you know, I'm a shareholder in a technology company, but even I wouldn't recommend technology to a company starting ABM because the first thing you need when you're starting to think about ABM is you need a strategy. So you should always be led by strategy and not be led by technology. I think all the bells and whistles and all the kind of incredible intent data and automation and personalization at scale, all these things that many of these platforms offer or promise, they should be secondary. So the mantra that we have at the agency is strategy first, technology second, and I think if you can have that in mind and that's it, that's when, whenever we're talking to kind of future customers,...

...we always say to you know, let's leave the strategy to a sorry, let's leave the technology rather to one side. Let's dig down deeper into your strategy. What are you trying to achieve? Who you trying to win, who you trying to retain, who you're trying to grow? And let's build that strategy first, because then the technology you can actually layer the technology on little by little once you've got a very solid strategy in place. That's what we always say to our plants. That's what the big off today, which is around the mode on adm. so I guess if I was to as you when does modern ABM look like? What it be? Gostialization first, strategy first, and then bring it the glogy to do that scale. Well, I think that's that. I think the technology does allow you to deliver at scale. If you think about the kind of the heritage of a B ABM, obviously it started as one to one and one too one was basically treating one account as a market of one. So doing everything possible within your means, between your market and team, your sales team, your wide Roldanization, to either win an account or, more often, to grow and to retain the account, because most, an awful lot of one to one ABM is focused not on new logos, which is obviously very much always, you know, an obsession for many sales teams, but actually focused on growing and retaining existing accounts. And that is where really the heritage, the history where one to one ABM sits from. There, obviously it's evolved over the course of almost twenty years to embrace want a few, which is when you're targeting a cluster of accounts they have a similar business need, they belong to the same vertical, they have the same business challenge or indeed want too many, which is when you're now trying to do a BM at a much wider, larger scale, you know, hundreds or indeed thousands of cats. The technology can help, of course, but I think modern ABM, for us at the agency, is much more about how you build and engaging an impactful account experience that you take that account through that is a line to the value proposition that you have created uniquely for this campaign and how that account or accounts, how they then engage over a period of time, over a period of and a number of different types of assets, digital assets, physical assets, online assets, offline assets, in person events, how you take them through what is an effect a journey of discovery, a journey of awareness, a journey of education, a journey of influence and ultimately to get them to a commit stage where they commit to say hey, I'm willing to have a conversation with you, I'm willing to learn more, I'm willing to have a half an hour call, I'm willing to join one of your workshops. Ultimately, the goal of ABM is what is that commit that you want that account to do. Is it to attend to workshop? Is it to join one of your kind of executive workshops or join some kind of event? If you can, if you can actually design your whole a being experience to actually deliver on...

...that goal, then that, for us is a modern ABM and I think you know, I'd love to a future date show show your audience some of the kind of the account experiences that we take our clients through. But they it's the technology that people talk about where they talk about all we're going to run some programmatic ads, we're going to we're going to run these dads here, run these outs there. They're going to be bathed in these ads wherever they go, whether they got where, they're on the Wall Street Journal or The Guardian newspaper or whether they're wherever they are, they'll cr ads. That, for us is not ABM. That's just running some programatic appetizement, seeing some linkedin ads and hey, download this ebook, hey get this white paper. That is not a BM. That's just targeted advertising. So ABM is when you wrap and account in a unique experience that is unique to them that they say hey, these guys they know me, they know they know us, they know our business list, then our sector. They'd clearly got something back can answer some of the questions that we're asking at the moment. And that, for us, is what we call an ABM account experience, and that is when you really start seeing clients engaging and you really start seeing prospects engaging and and that is when you start having some serious conversations, which, ultimately, ABM is about delivering qualified accounts and qualified conversation to yourself teams. Yeah, that makes both let sense and you know the certain that, just as truck, my attention where the beginning of yourn so I was was really the the ABM for net new logo, so acquisition. There also is the ABM for existing customers. I'll do we retain, develop expand our customers. But sometimes it's not even that. It is also making them feel that they always the that is the best in the market. Right. So you still still you still get that sort of feeling that you just don't make a decision and then you just roll on with it, but you keep on being busted about was going on. And I'd like to on or something from your perspective. You see there is a fundamental difference in the structure and the strategy from what I would call the the ABM cells, which is kind of net you logo, getting getting through the door. They'll swos ABM customer success. Do you see more people adopting the ABN customer success? But you know, going back to what I mentioned earlier, back the kind of the the origins and the heritage of one to one ABM, if you know some of the people that I've spent a ul lot of time talking to about this, such as such as Canastra or the large, large companies in the come of the IBM's and the Oracles, and they've invested in an awful lot of time using ABM to grow and to retain their accounts, their customers, and for many reasons. One because obviously it's it just makes perfect business sense. You know, the cost acquisition to winning a new account compared to keeping an accounties. It's obviously well documented. Also, many companies are very good at selling but not very good at growing. So I remember that and I this is one of the most recent podcast that I published with the head of ABM at Fin Astra, which is a global Fintech company she was explaining that the their company,...

...is fantastic at winning accounts, but they weren't so good at expanding those accounts. So they had this classic land versus expand. So they were deploying abn for the expand part of growing account because they were winning business, let's say, for example, with their software. They were lining winning it in one part of the business. But clearly most businesses are very complex businesses. They can have centralized buying departments, but more often than not they have decentralized by departments. So ultimately, with ABM you're looking to take what you've done well for one part of the business, which could be, you know, located in the geographical place or it could be located just in a different department, taking that success and saying to the rest of the business, hey days, look what this departments is achieved, look what they're saved, look what they've one, look what they've earned, and and that is where ABM can be phenomenally powerful. It is telling those stories and I think a lot of what we do with our clients is building these these these stories, building a compelling story that can be shared internally, building building an account experience that that can then be adopted and can be then propagated throughout the wide organization to say, Hey, we've got this great success happening in one part of our business. Why have we not taken it to the rest of our business? Because, ultimately, companies are looking not only to learn from their peers outside of their organizations, but they're also looking to learn at what's working internally and from your prospect you when you engage, was that of the more just a most success journey of the A M you did? Was a sum river of contacts? Or do you have a cm or for our quisition and then your good out of customers successful other so what, in the end, as a function can of taking the DM approach within the business? Yes and no. I mean I think that what we try to do with with all clients at the very beginning of the process, whether it's met new logo or whether it's growth strategy or retain strategy, is get more people involved in the beginning. So to get the CMO, to bring the VP of sales to be to bring the VP of customer success, even to bring the C suite, from the CEO to the CFO to ce journey from the beginning you speak up out the journey with an a qui other than what we do. Okay, that extens and I just recall one one, one of our, you know, most recent customers that we've on board it. You know the whole process starting with the C suite. So on the very first called the CFO with their CEO, CEO, CMO and and ahead of sales, we had the five major pillars of the organization were on the very first care because they understood the importance of this strategy for the for the future wellbeing of the company. So think if you can get it right from beginning, and very often we say to you know, when we're running our our ABM campaigns for our own for our clients, the first thing we obviously do is we do a huge kick off for the for the entire company, and we make sure that the CMO is bringing these head to sales, heads customer success, head of operations the C suite. Because ultimately ABM, how it differs from anything else is it's a company...

...wide strategical yeah, and it's it's not marketing and it's not sales. It's actually an organization wide pivot. It's it's a team spot. You need, feel says, you need to feedback from marketing. Marketing is to dread the strategy. Sells need to be box sy, Baiting and fact, you know, the the function that we've seen probably slowing down. Most of the most of the ABM programmative being involved in what sales and I think sometimes because, as you're right, you're right, he said, if you don't invite them at the day board, at the beginning in you don't explain to them, to them the longer term potential, all but unity of doing it properly. Okay, and if you don't have a commission planet, also can of follow that and you just commission them on, make new business and go and, you know, scalp someone for something. That's why you would have you would have issues. And I think we've since a lot of sales people kind of looking at it, at the next glossy thing from marketing. And I'm not trying to man generality here, but this is this is resist something, as with all the lot and we work directly with sells people and of course, part of our role, which is going to lead me to my next question, part of our role is to Underston the ABM strategy of our customers, because part of our role is to have conversation. So we are, I believe, one of the plug in the ABM strategy and were clock. That is quite interesting, because the concept of progressive providing the concept of picking up information as time goes by. And I'm going to speak to you. They plan today and I'm going to ask your street question. Favorite color, favorite food, what's your favorite drink? Okay, next time, that's probably it. If as few more question, you will like. Okay, stop it. You know your inquisitive. I wout like it. Next time I can ask you a few more question and I'll start to build a profile around you. And when we were playing that throll with lots of sells, people just sing us. You don't waste your time, get me the meetings, get me through the door. I'm gonna do all that. And then you know there is no information living in the sharing system. So really, from my perspect even from what you said, I completely agree with you. It's a team spot. Everybody needs to be involved and I think you got each try getting them in the room at the beginning, almost convincing, making the cells team, the CRO ID as well as the cm idea as well as the customer six society. I think he's critical for the six or some of if not, you will obviously get to a hard or so. That leads me to my question. Now, my last one, which is our can of important for me because you know, we had a projects for running team of as Dr Videos and demand. I'll do you see the rule of a s drs as part of that modern ABM strategy? Well, I think ABM cannot work without sales. You know period that the Americans say ABM cannot be successful without sales. You either have sales in the room or it just not going to work. So I think you know and I think go back to your point, there are you in? I think one of the shoes, obviously, is the the acronym ABM, with oft the M for marketing, and bed Burgers, who I mentioned earlier, who invented the term back in two thousand and three even she says now you know, with hindsight, maybe I...

...shouldn't have called it marketing, because maybe I should have called it something else. And so whenever we talk to our customers and our customer sales teams about about a BM, we often talk about as in the count based strategy and we talked about it as a campaign to win, grow and retain your most important accounts. So when you talk about it in the language of accounts sales, whether it's a VP of sales or an SDR or an account executive on account man UA, they prick up their ears because accounts is the language of sales. So the key, the key message, I always say, is make sure that you use the language of sales and don't use, you know, a marketing. Haven't done themselves any favors over the years, you know, by creating so many acronyms, you know, nqls and sqls, and and giving, you know, giving marketing qualified lead to sales and sells say, Hey, I don't want this or what is this? And I haven't got a clue what this is. And I've called them. Are Not interested. You know, marketing. I've done it. have done themselves a disservice over the years building this kind of machine, is inval machine and you know, kind of ebooks and white papers and all the kind of stuff and and generating thousands of leads which of no use to anybody. So, in answer your question, ABM is only half of the of the coin. Without the other half of the coin being the sales team to actually make it all come to life and having those conversations. But everything from, as you mentioned, from the account selection process at the beginning. That has to be a joint process between sales and marketing, with a marketing ultimately choose the accounts or in you know, in many ABM program sales to the accounts and marketing you know, validate them all the way through to, you know, understanding the the the the value proposition that it's been created for that account, the campaign messaging that's been created for that account, having their say about the campaign messaging, through to all the campaign assets that are being created, the account experience that's been created and ultimately, all those conversations that sales are going to be having, feeding all that back into the Marketing Department or the ABM team and actually then, you know, recycling that back in and back out. So I think my answer is that sales is critical to the success of ABM. Well as good to her. There's we believe. We believe exactly something. So we get to the end of the of the session today, I decline. So so thanks so much for sharing what Dean take with US always very useful. If anyone wants to carry on the Congossion with you. Are Getting touch with strategic ABM so to get some suppot in the journey. What's the best way to get all of you? Well, I'm say I'm very active on Linkedin, so I'm sure, Deacon Mul key, there are too many declam mulkings out there. So you'll you'll find me on Linkedin and obviously you know the agency is strategic abmcom, so take that into Google and I'm sure you'll find us. And if anybody has any questions, please just drop me a line and I'd love to engage into to share some more insight with you. Third well, thank you so much. Day clanny was and that's a there's...

...to be on this for today. Thank you earlier. Thanks all your times then, all the best for the future. You've been listening to BEDB revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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