On 1 November, 500+ marketing leaders gathered to attend The Global ABM Conference from B2B Marketing. Over 50 speakers lined up to share their expertise on various ABM-related topics from customer insight and innovation in Ai to sales enablement and content creation. B2B Marketing’s Editor-in-Chief, Joel Harrison, kicked off the event and teased what was in store for the day, including four different breakout rooms which focused on key ABM topics – so what did you miss? Read on to find out some takeaways from each session.
Ignore AI at your peril: Why now is the time to take AI seriously in your ABM strategy
Inflexion Group’s Bev Burgess and The Tech Whisper’s Jaspreet Bindra started the day off with a bang by discussing the significance of generative Ai. With generative Ai being ‘the new kid on the block’, Jaspreet emphasised that Ai is not something to be feared or ignored in the next few years. He said: “Ai will not replace you – a person using it will,” thus debunking the theory that Ai will take over everyone’s jobs in the future. In fact, it’s something that will complement human roles rather than replacing them. Additionally, they stressed that Ai will have an impact on creativity, productivity and efficiency, but there needs to be ethical considerations with all these technological advancements.
Elevating ABM: Modern techniques for a changing world
Next up, CMO of Demandbase, Jon Miller, discussed the evolution of marketing and outdated practices, and introduced an ABM playbook. He reiterated the importance of account prioritisation by placing each one into categories as tier one, two and three based on intended purpose, historical context, and level of interest in the products.
He also went into a more holistic approach to account management by balancing new prospects while nurturing existing relationships. Oh, and in between his presentation, Jon also managed to throw in a few dad jokes.
Why ABM needs to be at the core of your marketing strategy, and how you can get it there
To close out the morning keynotes, Joel sat down with Pegasystem’s Cat Dutton, 6sense’s Miriam Troostwijk, and Propolis ABM & Demand Strategy Expert Robert Norum, to talk about ABM’s place in your overall marketing strategy.
This discussion was based on the findings of our recent Propolis Community Sprint and survey on ABM. In this Sprint, Propolis members came together to discuss the challenges around making ABM more central, as well as some of the solutions they’ve found to overcome these problems.
Some of the top tips for making ABM central to your strategy include: securing buy-in from the leadership team; aligning fully with sales; and defining ABM clearly for your business. If you’d like to read the full report, just click here.
Sales alignment and enablement
Unlocking growth: Transforming your marketing function with ABM
“In an increasingly competitive space, ABM gives us the means to use resources in the smartest way possible, “ said Hanna Leerink from Trend Micro. This was one of the many takeaways from this engaging session with Robert Norum, Wipro’s David Keene and Capgemini’s Neil Barry.
They shared the benefit of implementing an ABM programme, and David mentioned that ABM changes the way marketers engage with sales, moving away from the traditional MQL model. Instead, ABM goes the extra mile and gives a full customer lifecycle. In addition, they pointed out some of the key challenges in marketing including the plethora of data available when it comes to tech stacks. However, working with sales to implement an ABM approach can give everyone the power to ask ‘so what’ with that same data and look for key KPIs within the account.
Bridging the gap: Leveraging digital engagement data for sales success
This riveting session features both ON24’s Hannah Kemshell and Integrate’s Simon Roberts as they discuss the need for both marketing and sales to be on the same page in order to succeed. Simon highlighted that the job for marketing doesn’t stop when sales picks up leads – marketers need a coordinated approach for prospects later on in the buyer journey to maximise opportunities converting.
They also delved into the key to getting better data and insights from sales to ensure optimal revenue. Hannah said that aligned KPIs and shared responsibilities across sales and marketing is essential to this and that driving engagement across several channels enables marketers to generate better data.
In conversation with Googlers Alice & Katie: Global megatrends to micro-moments
This session showcased insights from Head of Strategic Accounts Alice Clarke and Head of Marketing Katie Biltoo from Google. The pair dived into the importance of sales and marketing’s connection with greenfield marketing. Katie said marketers need to do their homework to deepen this connection while also analysing the criteria with accounts. The duo also went into how they were effectively able to do more with less resources by utilising a one-to-one approach to ABM.
Elevating Relationships Through ABM: AVEVA & GSK’s strategic evolution
AVEVA’s Andrew Reed partnered with ABM agency, strategicabm to craft an exclusive approach of building a specialised marketing engagement programme. Andrew sat down with Fes Askari to talk about their journey from identifying the problems through to its key solutions.
AVEVA didn’t have an identified customer value proposition so they sought to recognise which accounts drove the highest revenue so they could target these industrial customers more efficiently. Andrew and Fes shared some of the things they learned including the three pillars of customer value proposition: innovate, local care and insights, as well as the secret to building relationships with stakeholders.
Sneak preview: Shortlisted entries for ‘The Best Use of ABM’ category at this year’s B2B Marketing Awards
Looking forward to the B2B Marketing Awards? Robert Norum was joined by Fujitsu’s Andrea Clatworthy, PCCW Global’s Ilvija Skerskane and Thales’ Wiebke Macrae to discuss the entries for ‘The Best use of ABM’. The entries this year highlighted just how much the ABM market is maturing as well as the expertise from both an internal and external perspective. The group also explained how there seems to be more room for emotion and humour for ABM campaigns towards B2B.
How to make friends and build trust: Working with sales to deliver ABM
Ei-Global B2B Media Intelligence’s Tony Jarvis, Arup’s Emily Claire Poupart and Azure Business Group at Microsoft’s Lizzie Donnachie all divulged some top tips to delivering ABM growth while working with sales. It can already be a challenge to incorporate marketing into all the elements of sales. So how can trust be built? They cited the trust equation which includes credibility, reliability, visibility and intimacy.
Emily said: “Ultimately, we’re talking about people and understanding what pressures they’re getting. Identify champions from high levels which will gain support from senior leadership teams. Bring resolution to those pressures in conversation to the table.”
In addition, goals need to be aligned and tangible when evolving these conversations with sales.
Content and creativity
Music and ABM: How we converted research to rhythm to help boardrooms change their tune
In this session, Addleshaw Goddard’s Brian Macreadie and Digital Radish’s Renaye Edwards and Lauren Tucker discussed how their music-led campaign used original in-house musical compositions. In addition to utilising targeted specific geographies and thought leaders, the firm conducted interviews about what creates the perfect harmony in
boardrooms between in-house legal functions and executive teams.
Renaye also highlighted the importance of creative thinking and providing space for team members to pursue their interests. This not only creates a diversity with thinking across teams but a diversity in talent as well.
Right target, right content, right time: How you can deliver personalised ABM content to smash your targets
HUT 3’s Andy Johnson and Uipath’s Nancy Harlan sat down to talk about how to create unique messaging for their top customers using ABM. Andy highlighted the process of creating a playbook for specific accounts, which involved key objectives, essential themes and target audiences. In addition, the playbook can be used to personalise content for each account to ensure consistency across messaging. Another hot topic from the discussion? With Ai assisted initiatives on the horizon for the agency, they both concluded with how to measure this success using metrics such as open rate as engagement.
How to maximise creativity for ABM: a dig deeper discussion on the use of content & creativity in ABM
Propolis Expert for Content, Creative and Campaigns Steve Kemish spoke with Autodesk’s Judy Wilks and State Street’s Kate Tomlinson to emphasise using both customisation and personalisation when creating content. They also stressed the need for aligning campaigns with business goals for measurement of success, and differentiated between B2B and B2C emotional decision-making processes. And when it comes to measuring success with creativity? It should be based on the overall effectiveness instead of uniqueness.
ABM done right: The key to success is quality, not quantity
In this session with Evolve Global Corporation’s Satish Sadasivan and Kevin Colon and Mphasis’ Veda Iyer, the trio emphasised the focus on the quality of interactions and experiences being delivered alongside the buying journey instead of the quantity. They also stressed the importance of sales and marketing alignment for better customer engagement as well as personalised high-quality content for leaders.
Additionally, they outlined three ways of operating as a team, from focusing on converting relationships into revenue to creating opportunities together and making an impact through their roles. During the Q&A, Veda also pointed out that there not only needs to be a common alignment with sales leaders but also the CEO as well.
Workshop: ABM in the context of an account-based growth strategy
Joanna Moss from Salesforce and Bev Burgess led this exciting session by examining why an account-based growth strategy is imperative to businesses. They both talked about how to develop long term relationships and deliver market beating growth while aligning ABM with sales, customer success and other key executive colleagues.
Some other key takeaways? Marketers should consider implementing the 80/20 rule by identifying their top 20% of customers that generate 80% of their revenue. These are the types of customers that need to be prioritised to ensure they’re satisfied, through practices such as personalised experiences and dedicated account management.
Ai and innovation
Think Big. Start Small. Overcoming the challenges and embracing the opportunities of starting an ABM program from scratch
Rhiannon Blackwell, ABM Marketing Leader at PwC, gave a thought-provoking session on starting an ABM programme from scratch and discussed everything from navigating challenges to seizing new opportunities.
She encouraged marketers to take risks and embrace failure as a part of the progress narrative when creating their framework. The key is to promote continuous learning, fine tuning and scalability. She also mentioned the idea of proactive collaboration to leverage enthusiasm and assistance of the team while aligning others with the programme’s vision.
How to build an elite ABM team: The key ingredients for high performance
VMWare’s John Watton then followed up with a session on creating the ideal ABM team in B2B marketing. Clearly, there’s been an evolution of ABM. He said: “ABM is a part of the business rather than a part of marketing.” By taking a collaborative approach, marketing can work with the sales team to foster internal champions. There should be an importance of skill diversity among team members from deeply understanding customer needs to an innate curiosity when exploring Ai tools.
In addition, he mentioned that there should be an emphasis on customer value as VMWare shifted focus from pipeline generation to ensuring customer success and increased the usage of software.
Is it real? Mix and match AI to create effective ABM campaigns
Joel Harrison spoke with Autodesk’s Tristan Jones and Just Global’s Marcus Hiles to chat about Ai marketing particularly in large enterprise organisations. They explored the potential and challenges associated with Ai implementation which emphasised the need for responsible use and risk management.
There needs to be a consideration when it comes to Ai from data privacy concerns to the need for strict compliance with regulations like GDPR. Plus, there was a debate on Ai being implemented in content creation as this can pose potential challenges with content overload and the lack of resources to manage it.
Next generation ABM: How ABM is changing for an AI- driven world: a panel conversation
65% of jobs will be changing by 2030 and Ai is playing an integral part of this. Joel Harrison sat down with LinkedIn’s Amy Short, Workday’s Evett Baranov, and Salesforce’s Grace Meldrum to chat about how Ai is transforming ABM. They debated about some of the different approaches to Ai adoption in marketing including data-driven tactics and strategic planning. While there was an emphasis on the future, they also presented some challenges in sales and marketing alignment and how essential it is to have effective communication across the business.
ABM unlaced: Getting your GTM into the red zone
Have you ever compared ABM to American football? MOI Global’s Julie Wisdom and Phoebe Jackson did just that in their engaging session on getting your marketing into the red zone. They suggested marketers focus on leveraging data, understanding buying groups and aligning teams around the customer while illustrating a case study that showed a successful implementation.
Phoebe said: “Account based marketing is evolving into more of an orchestrated business strategy so it’s longer just painted as a marketing programme.”
Experience over exposure: An ABM-focused data breach simulation
In this session, Kyndryl’s Corinne Doherty and Samantha Bentley, The Purple Agency’s Helen Hamilton and B2B Marketing’s Joel Harrison talked about one of the campaigns Kyndryl was shortlisted for. The campaign involved a simulated cyber breach scenario to test the response and resiliency of business leaders in a retail organisation. The experience included actors and fake social media coverage to elicit a sense of urgency and emotional response from participants.
“We wanted to show not tell and to create an emotional response- this was the brief for HH Global and to make it specific for this [retail] client,” said Samantha.
Along with a significant pipeline, the campaign helped to break down silos between different teams to ensure a more collaborative environment.
Understanding and activating the priorities, challenges, and objectives of B2B marketers
INFUSEmedia’s David Verwey interviewed 800+ marketing leaders to talk about the future threats and challenges going into 2024. Some key trends going into next year included a rise of the partnership ecosystem, digital transformation 2.0, ultra precision with data intelligence and ABM ultimately evolving into ABX. One key takeaway from David’s session was that marketers are often challenged to deliver revenue but they’re being measured on leads, which poses a threat and can cause confusion. As a result, marketers are struggling to deliver on ROI.
More than ¼ of respondents say that the BDR function is sitting in marketing. One of the challenges of this is how marketers are looking at the scoring and qualification process, and ensuring alignment with sales and marketing. Finally, David used these insights to pinpoint how to resolve those challenges.
Back to the Future: Transforming a century-old manufacturing giant from a traditional sales driven approach to omni-channel ABM excellence
In this session, Henkel’s Ryan Almond shares how to prepare for a strategic pilot which is fully aligned to a business’ ABM transformation goals. Using transparency and vulnerability, the session explored Ryan’s experience with these initial stages. One of the first? Understanding who to target by gathering leads from unique sources such as business cards. Henkel also sent out personalised messages and they also got sales to speak to a much smaller segment with content provided by marketing. In addition, Ryan highlighted that the company targeted 200 decision marketers and completed 10 deep dives on stakeholders.
Insight-driven ABM: How to use customer insights to drive effective ABM programmes
LSEG’s Nickie McDade and Twogether’s Minaz Tejani sat down to elaborate on an internationally recognised ABM programme. At LSEG, ABM was 80% focused on reputation and relationships, and 20% on revenue growth, and this was undoubtedly key in its success. They also discussed what tiers of customer insights marketers should be utilising in campaign strategies as well as how to apply these learnings.
Another key tip mentioned? They stressed that too many insights isn’t always a good thing. In fact, marketers need to eventually draw a line in the sand, take those insights and action them into something tangible.
Scale the peak of success and avoid the trough of disillusionment – How best to build, and protect, momentum for ABM initiatives as ABM evolves from ‘curiosity’ to ‘mainstream’
Agent 3’s Greg Salmon, NTT’s Rachael Bell and Infor’s Matt Brown all considered the impact of scaling ABM initiatives as they gather momentum and come under greater visibility. While the programmes used at NTT and Infor are quite different, both marketers agreed that there’s no rush to scale ABM especially if it runs the risk of organisations getting their implementation wrong.
Rachael said: “It’s a continual mantra in NTT – the constant drip feed around what ABM is, and the impact it has on accounts.”
Masterclass: Unveiling the secret sauce: How CX elevates your ABM and aligns Sales and Marketing
Propolis Expert for Customer Experience Barbara Stewart then presented her session on how customer experience can elevate both ABM and sales and marketing alignment. She identified key components to consider to make ABM campaigns more customer focused which included the likes of defining buyer journeys and reviewing value propositions to using metrics that are relevant to businesses and much more.
She also said to make the onboarding process as seamless as possible – after all, there’s no point in getting those customers if you’re inevitably going to lose them. Barbara said to avoid overpromising and be honest about what things do and how to utilise them to the fullest.
How to use creativity and storytelling to take your ABM campaign to the next level by The Marketing Practice
“People don’t like it when you challenge the status quo, but in order to do something truly extraordinary, you can’t do anything but challenge the status quo.”
This was just one of the great quotes mentioned during Verizon’s John Williams and The Marketing Practice’s Anna Hutton’s session. They both delved into the impact of ABM on business growth and presented a case study where Verizon rebuilt its trust and relationship with a major European client. Plus, the duo discussed the importance of tracking and tracing marketing efforts as well as other key tips for marketer’s ABM journey.
The science-backed approach to win new customers and grow your existing ones
Corporate Vision’s Catherine Alexander closed out the conference with a compelling session. She kicked off her presentation by comparing marketing to poker.
Catherine said: “In a poker player’s hand, I want my opposition to fold. In your situation, you need to tell a story that gets to an easy yes.”
After talking about the power of storytelling, she talked about some strategies for effective communication as well as the triple metric approach which highlights the value of communicating in different ways.
As the conference came to a close, it was clearly a successful day of endless insights. Ai is clearly here to stay and several presentations reflected that notion by outlining how to utilise it in the future – especially in the ABM world. In addition, it’s clear that the key to content creation is powerful storytelling and clear messaging while an ABM approach allows marketers to prioritise key customers driving revenue. Finally, there was a lot of talk around taking risks and learning from mistakes which is something marketers should be embracing going into 2024.