Google Cloud has become a staple household name across the globe. Having grown from a start-up within Google, the company now has a customer base that reaches almost 1 million companies worldwide.
But as Google Cloud’s audience grows, their need to truly understand and engage with their customers has never been greater.
In the interview (full recording here) we discussed:
- How Google Cloud achieved Sales and Marketing alignment
- The importance of Account Insights
- Google's tenet of 'fail fast, learn fast' applied to ABM
- Akriti's advice for anyone launching an ABM program
So let’s dive into some of Akriti’s top tips for ABM success:
6 tips for Industry ABM
1. 'Fail early, fail fast, learn fast'
Whilst not exactly a new phenomenon, Account-based Marketing is a learning curve for the world of B2B marketing. From who you target, to the campaigns you run, to the insights you use – it’s a whole different world, and for those that have never ventured into the world of ABM, it’s going to take some getting used to.
As such, you can expect to make mistakes:
Whether you rush into the execution without the right foundations, go after the wrong accounts, or simply underestimate how much time and effort you need to invest – in your first year of ABM, you will learn a lot.
The best thing you can do is fail fast, and learn fast.
As soon as you know what not to do, you will be better placed to align your teams, engage high-value accounts, and drive success in your program.
“One of the tenets at Google is 'fail early, fail fast, learn fast'. And that's exactly what we did. We took stock of where we are, what's working, what's not working. We paused our program and rethought it in certain ways.” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
2. Build a solid foundation
Without a solid foundation, your ABM walls will come crumbling down.
Before diving into the creative and the campaigns, you need to know where you stand as a business. What are your goals? What does success look like for you? Are your teams aligned? Do you have the right buy-in?
From educating your teams and ensuring they are all on the same page and aligned with the same goals, to investing in the right tech stack, the right reporting software and the right analytics to help you measure your growth – there is a lot of preparation that needs to go into an ABM program.
Work out who your target accounts are, who the key decision makers are within those, how to engage them and how to build out relationships within those accounts.
It’s about more than just engaging content and personalized advertising. It’s about showing your accounts that you understand them, and you can’t do that without a solid foundation of insights, education and technology.
“Having a solid foundation is critical. I mean, you just cannot do without it. So it's imperative to create a detailed framework of what your operating model's going to be.” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
3. Get cozy with Sales
In a world where Marketing and Sales infamously don’t get along, you need to be prepared to break the mold.
Account-based Marketing relies on tight alignment between all teams – but especially Marketing and Sales.
Simply put, Sales work on the front line. They’re on the battlefield, face-to-face with the challenges and obstacles that your target accounts are facing. They see it in the flesh, and they know your audience better than anyone.
So why would you let that insight go to waste?
To get true alignment, it’s key to educate the Marketing team on the language of Sales, and teach them how to get the best out of their Sales colleagues. Equally, you need to educate Sales on the impact of ABM and how they can help the Marketing function in return.
To engage teams, be sure to swap the Marketing jargon for Sales-friendly language. Use terms they will understand and resonate with: the language of accounts.
Not only will this level of education help to align your teams, but it will also help you secure the buy-in you need to take the program to the next level. After all, no one will ever buy into a process that they don’t understand.
“It's not just that ABM isn't ABM without Sales. I think ABM shouldn't exist if there's no Sales team and if you're not working closely with the Sales team.” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
4. Leverage insights to understand your accounts
As marketers, it’s our job to represent the customer. We need to not only walk in their shoes, but get under their skin, work out their pain points, understand what keeps them up at night, and help them fix it.
With ABM, this responsibility only becomes more pronounced.
That’s precisely why leveraging account insights is critical to the success of your program. It’s no longer about ‘spray and pray’. It’s about digging deeper and showing your accounts that no one understands them better than you do.
And naturally, you can’t do that when going in blind.
From intent data to engagement, propensity models and third-party insights – with ABM, you need to not only use these insights, but center your entire program around them.
Look to a range of internal and external insights to ensure you don’t leave any blindspots, and remember that empathy is what drives your program.
“You not only have to be able to walk in your customer's shoes, but almost get under their skin and really understand, what are their pain points? What are their drivers? What are their priorities and things like that?” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
5. Demand Gen and ABM must coexist
Demand Generation versus ABM.
The ever-lasting debate: are they the same? Where does one end and the other begin? And can you have one without the other?
The answer is simple: to succeed, ABM and Demand Gen must coexist.
Think of an orchestra. You have different instruments, each with a different purpose and different required skillsets.
In isolation, these instruments work, but they’re lacking power. They’re lacking impact. But when they work together, the result is incomparable.
This is exactly how Marketing works. There are various subtypes, functions and styles under the same umbrella, and whilst they may seem separate from one another, you need them to coexist to truly land with impact.
For ABM to succeed, you need Demand Gen, and vice versa.
“I don't think Demand Generation can exist in isolation. I don't think ABM can exist in isolation. I think they work best when they all work together.” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
6. Over-communicate with your teams
When it comes to ABM, there is no such thing as over-communication.
Alignment is critical to the success of your program. But how can you expect to maintain alignment without ensuring that every team is on the same page at all times?
From celebrating the small wins, to communicating priorities, setbacks and learnings throughout the process – keeping your teams in the loop will not only help drive motivation and ensure consistent buy-in, but also bring your teams closer together and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.
Look to set aside regular meetings – whether they be weekly, fortnightly or monthly – where teams can share their wins, their failures, their learnings and their ideas with each other. This kind of over-communication is exactly what will keep your teams aligned in the long run.
“With the Sales team, we make sure we lay out the entire journey. So they know exactly what milestones to expect and when. So even if they're not seeing revenue right away, they know that they're going to be building new relationships.” – Akriti Gupta, Global Head of ABM at Google Cloud
Keen to learn more about the world of ABM? Check out our Let’s talk ABM podcast series to hear tips and tricks from some of the leading ABMers in the industry.