The Latest from the ABM Experts
August 28, 2019
Summer Splash — Engaging the Full Buying Committee
Written by Sangram Vajre
We recently launched a webinar series through Terminus titled “Make a Splash With ABM This Summer.” In part two of the series, we invited Justin Keller, VP of Marketing at Sigstr, and Samantha Stone, Founder and CMO of the Marketing Advisory Network, to join us for a discussion about the best strategies for engaging the buying committees in your target accounts.
We shared some of our key takeaways from this discussion on the latest episode of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast and wanted to share those with you here, too.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- How Justin and Samantha define engagement in their organizations
- How personalization drives engagement…and how to personalize at scale
- Unique engagement strategies Justin and Samantha are implementing in their companies
How do you define engagement?
Samantha: I’m going to tell you what I think engagement is, and then I’m going to tell you how we actually measure it because it’s not exactly the same thing. The reason I think it’s important to look at both is, if we only focus on what we can measure we miss out on huge opportunities to build relationships. So, I do like to take that step back and look, not just at the things that we can look at systematically, but at some of the softer things, too. That just helps us do our jobs better.
For me, engagement is a meaningful interaction that we have with someone in our buying community. That could be a phone call, access to content, or a meeting, etc.
You’ll notice I didn’t say meaningful interaction about our products or services, right? That’s because the interaction has to be relevant to their business.
And when it comes to measurement, I want to measure, not because I care if it takes six touches or seventeen touches — that really doesn’t matter. I want to measure so I can trigger other actions based on an interaction I’ve had. So, if a salesperson has a meeting with someone, I want to know so I can take an action that’s appropriate based on that meeting.
Justin: For us, once someone’s picking up the phone or replying to an email, that’s engagement. And it’s all about just really demonstrating that you understand both sides of the equation: “We understand your business, and here’s how our business can help you.” Right? And I think that’s the key that unlocks that engagement the right way.
So, what’s the key to engagement?
Justin: When we were first starting our ABM program, we kind of stubbed our toe on what I think the key to engagement is. And that’s personalization. Personalization drives engagement, full stop.
So, we started by focusing on engaging just one company. Then we went to one hundred. Then we tried for one thousand. But the engagement definitely dropped at that point. Because we were going too big.
And that’s the biggest thing we learned — there’s a tipping point for every company of every size where if you get too big it stops working. You need to really be able to demonstrate to your audience that you understand them. And if you can’t demonstrate that you care about their business, why should they care about yours at all? The heart of the ABM is getting really focused on the account. It’s making sure you understand them and how you can help them specifically.
Samantha: Justin, you really hit the sticking point that I’m on. I’m on a mission to eliminate templates, to never give sales another template again. And exactly for the reasons you just described. Even with the best intentions, templates always feel like templates.
The magic comes with personalization that is specific to the organization or to a person at the organization. It’s about caring about the people that we are trying to communicate with. To me, that truly is sort of the magic formula.
It takes a little bit of time to build an account plan, to think about those people, and then respond to that. So, there’s some manual work here — and in my opinion there will always be some manual work — but it’s worth it. The manual work pays off.
And personalization doesn’t mean you’re doing one-off things that can only apply to one person. It means doing things that are relevant to a specific set of people.
What are some unique engagement strategies you’re implementing in your organizations?
Samantha: We did a campaign where we took quotes that companies had said publicly — in annual reports, social media, etc. — and addressed those quotes on a postcard. We attached a little note that just said ”Hey, we’re listening, we can help, go here to find out how.” And we sent them to a landing page explaining how we could help them achieve the goal or mission addressed in their quote.
Justin: One of the biggest changes that we’ve experienced recently is that we’ve moved our entire sales development team out of the sales organization and into marketing. So, our entire sales team is now functionally part of our ABM program.
So we are really aligning those humans to those accounts. And we’re making sure that they’re getting super personalized. And the way we’re tackling that is, we’re measuring how many demos are working and the usual stats for our SDRs, but we’re also sticking them specifically on their Tier 1 accounts by conversions. And then whoever has the highest conversion rate of accounts to opportunities, gets to go to Mexico for a long weekend at a resort.
The intention here is that whoever is the best at getting personalized on these one-to-one accounts is the winner.
And like I said, that’s really the heart of ABM.