This post is based on an interview by guest host Daniel Rodriguez with Brian Kardon. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out below.
Have you had the fantasy of deploying ABM at a global company and getting to play with all the cool tools?
(Hey, if these are your fantasies, who are we to judge?)
Creating such a seismic shift on a global scale (literally) is a lot harder than it sounds.
On the latest FlipMyFunnel podcast, guest host Daniel Rodriguez, Head of Revenue at Alyce, asked Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer at Fuze, a unified cloud-based platform that combines voice, chat, and video conferencing, how to launch ABM for a global company and win.
How to Launch ABM
Before Kardon instituted ABM, Fuze pursued deals all over the globe, with any account in any country. The sales team didn’t want to be fenced in. They valued flexibility.
Kardon knew that if he started ABM “as marketing’s idea” it was DOA. To be successful, it had to feel like a company-wide initiative.
That meant getting allies early. Kardon focused on five key opinion makers who had influence within the company. He wanted to be sure that when he presented the plan to the board there were advocates there who could jump in with positive comments.
He converted a famous board member who was a sales guru. Next, he got the global head of sales. The heads of North American sales and European sales were next, and finally, the CEO.
After he got this inner circle onboard, he found some examples of other companies that were doing it effectively.
ABM’s Best Benefit: Reducing Customer Acquisition Costs
You can win a lot of points with the heads of sales and marketing if you can help them reduce expenses and win clients more efficiently.
Selling ABM from a bottom-up budgetary perspective helped ground the plan in real numbers.
Kardon relied on a kitchen cabinet of non-competing CMOs to take the right approach and overcome sales resistance.
Sales leaders had a lot of anecdotal evidence to support which accounts to target. Unfortunately a lot of it was based on “tribal knowledge and BS frankly.”
All the sales leaders were asked which types of accounts were best. After compiling the list, Kardon dropped a data bomb on them which confirmed some of their beliefs and refuted others.
He ran the numbers, looking at two years of history with 20 different pieces of data (industry, what technologies they were using, etc.).
Using this data-driven approach, they discovered the characteristics or attributes that were associated with accounts that are more likely to close. It wasn’t just a win-loss rate. They also looked at how many days in a cycle, and how much discounting they needed to win the account.
For example, Fuze had several universities as clients. The sales team believed that education was a really good sector, but when Kardon investigated, he saw that those were two-year cycles, and they were heavily discounted. Those clients also required Fuze to build additional specialized functionality. So it wasn’t really in the sweet spot.
Focusing on the Big Accounts Changed Their Approach
After looking at the data, Kardon changed the target account focus to the large whales, where deals are $250,000 a year for three years. With a total contract value of $750,000, that justified a more touchy-feely approach.
Previously, many transactions had been done on the phone. Now it was geared toward the field sales team with more high touches, more direct mail.
With these big accounts you need about 25 contact names because it’s a committee decision. While a salesperson is very good at threading the conversation with maybe two or three people at the accounts, marketing is able to touch another 15-20 people.
Because the contract value was so high, there was a lot more digital marketing. The only people seeing Fuze’s ads were target accounts.
Each rep focused on just 200 accounts, but they knew those accounts intimately. The reps knew who was getting what kind of nurturing, what digital ads were playing at Facebook, Linkedin, and other places.
The reps knew the serial numbers of the competitor’s hardware at the target account’s locations. They know when it will likely start to fail. They know when the account is likely to start looking for replacement equipment.
Target account’s buying interest cycles come at regular intervals, almost like cicadas. With ABM analytics deployed across your marketing ecosystem, you should see shopping research from one of your target accounts.
By targeting a small number of accounts in a handful of industries, Fuze benefits from economies of scale. Their reps know the trade associations within those industries. They have case studies for those industries. They know all the players, and as people move around, Fuze’s network grows.
One of Fuze’s biggest challenges is deciding whether to expand beyond those five industries.
“It’s like adding an amendment to the Constitution,” said Kardon. “We don’t take that lightly here.”
This post is based on an interview by guest host Daniel Rodriguez with Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer at Fuze. To hear this episode and many more like it, you can subscribe to The FlipMyFunnel Podcast.