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Let’s talk ABM: 6 ways to power your Customer Lifecycle strategy with ABM

In a recent episode of Let's talk ABM, we spoke with Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, Vice President at SAP, about ways to power your Customer Lifecycle strategy. Here are the key takeaways.

Strategy   |   ABM

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Declan Mulkeen

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Jun 11 2024 - 11min Read Date published: Date modified: 2024-06-11


The probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer.


If you have ever doubted the value of customer loyalty and retention, consider this your wake-up call.

For many organizations, new logo acquisition is the primary goal. 

But the full potential of Account-based Marketing is unleashed when ABMers realize the impact of nurturing, expanding, and strengthening existing relationships with their highest-value accounts.

This is where ABM and Customer Lifecycle Marketing can work hand in hand to become the ultimate power duo.

In a recent episode of Let’s talk ABM, we spoke with Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, Vice President at SAP, about Customer Lifecycle ABM, and how Account-based Marketing feeds into wider customer adoption and advocacy efforts.

In the interview (full recording here) we discussed:

  • The evolution of ABM at SAP
  • The rollout and impact of a global ABM Framework
  • How SAP chooses accounts for its ABM program
  • Why ABM is key to customer adoption and advocacy

So let’s look at some of Marcelo’s top tips for powering Customer Lifecycle Marketing with ABM.

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6 ways to power your Customer Lifecycle strategy with ABM

1. Focus on the journey instead of the destination

With Account-based Marketing - or any Marketing initiative, for that matter - it’s easy to fall victim to tunnel vision. 

You have your goal set, you know what you want to achieve, and you’re laser-focused on reaching that finish line.

But if you want your ABM program to succeed and fuel your Customer Lifecycle strategy, you need to see the bigger picture. 

Think of your ABM program as a journey

You might have a clear vision of your objectives, but without a defined set of steps and directions, you won’t be able to reach your desired destination - whether that’s new logo acquisition or expanding existing accounts.

Alongside your Sales teams, you need to consider what steps you are going to take to guide the account through your program. What series of activities are you going to develop? How are you going to maintain engagement and take that account from the first point of contact through to acquisition? 

Seeing your ABM program as a journey instead of a destination will help you to stay aligned with your goals, pivot when veering off-course, and create a cohesive, seamless experience for your target accounts that work hand-in-hand with existing Customer Lifecycle Marketing efforts. 

“Try to focus on creating a journey for this customer. Don't just discuss the first activity that you're going to have, but think about your objective and how you're going to develop a series of activities that will lead you to achieve this objective.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP

2. Move beyond acquisition

Steve Jobs famously said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

While all eyes might be on landing new logos, you should never underestimate the value of cross-selling or upselling existing accounts. In fact, it can increase revenue by up to 43% - the key is to show existing customers a level of value that they weren’t expecting.

With any SaaS or software-based solutions, simply selling the solution won’t be enough to foster long-lasting relationships. There is a whole added opportunity there to educate your target accounts and enable them to get the most out of your solutions - and that’s where you can grasp opportunities to expand on existing deals. 

If you can show your existing customers the full potential of your solutions and services, they’re more likely to see its true value. Once they see its true value, they want more of it. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Customer Lifecycle doesn’t end when they become a customer, and ABM can help you to deepen and expand those existing relationships to create something truly long-lasting.

“When developing a strategy for the account, you need to develop a strategy to accelerate the existing pipeline, the existing deals that are there. So improving relationships and making sure they have the knowledge and structure to get the most out of our solutions.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP

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3.Define what ABM means for you

Since the term was initially coined over 20 years ago, Account-based Marketing has seen a number of definitions. For some, it’s a purely One-to-one or One-to-few play that uses targeted, personalized marketing tactics to foster deeper engagement and nurture relationships.

For others, there is the allure of larger-scale ABM with One-to-many campaigns that are personalized at more of an industry or vertical level. 

What’s important is that your organization defines what ABM means for you, what that looks like in practice, and aligning your team around it.

How you choose to position ABM in your organization will also have a bearing on the buy-in you secure. 

Despite what the name might suggest, Account-based Marketing is by no means a Marketing-only function. It requires the input and expertise of Sales, Accounts, Customer Success, C-Suite, and everyone in between. 

In many ways, ABM is something of a misnomer.

To overcome these silos, SAP refers to the program as ‘Strategic Account Marketing’. For Amber Bogie, during her time at Degreed, they opted for ‘Account-based Experience’.

Whatever you choose to call it, every team needs to be aligned around what you want to achieve, what your program looks like, and how you are going to meet your objectives.

“I think the beauty with ABM is really when you start to dig down and understand that particular situation of that account and personalize content and experiences that really talk directly to them.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP

4.Target the entire ecosystem 

With ABM, there is a tendency to want to go after the big guys in the boardroom. The C-Suite, executive-level decision-makers. But when it comes to building reputation, making an impact, and boosting brand awareness, you need to be prepared to touch upon multiple levels.

You need to target the entire ecosystem - not just the top of the food chain.

Looking at the account as a whole is crucial. Of course, there is a hierarchy to every account, and as tempting as it can be to only focus on the top tier, it’s often those interactions with employees further down the pyramid that can leave a long-lasting impression and have a significant influence.

As Marcelo points out, “The guy that signs the deal isn’t always the guy that makes the technical evaluations.”

The more you can engage with individuals across the account, the more conversations you start, and the larger the impact you have on the account as a whole. See the bigger picture - don’t restrict your reach.

“Don't think only about the decision-makers; let's think about the account. Let's try to touch multiple levels of this company so that you really influence the account as a whole.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP 

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5.Look beyond the sale

Real relationships are founded on trust. If done right, your ABM program can extend far beyond landing an account. It’s all about how you continue to nurture, grow, and expand that relationship to benefit both your organization and the customer.

It’s favoring the long game over the quick wins.

Account-based Marketing requires a whole new mindset. It’s a matter of value over volume. Instead of landing as many accounts as possible, the trick is to laser focus on those highest value, most important relationships and invest strategically in nurturing and expanding those deals.

That often means looking beyond the sale and instead investing in areas where you can develop existing relationships with the aim of fostering loyalty, longevity, and expansion. We all know it’s cheaper to retain customers than land new ones - and ABM is perfectly positioned to make those relationships stronger, especially when partnered with your Customer Lifecycle efforts.

“Really understanding the scenario of the customer and how you're adding value to that particular customer, I think that's a very good learning from ABM.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP

6.Think small, think success

Bigger isn’t always better - and with ABM, less is often more.

Going into an Account-based approach to establish a huge program is only going to set you up for failure. It is not designed to be large scale, and you will only end up losing sight of your overall objectives and goals.

The best thing you can do is follow the data, start small, and stay laser-focused.

As with any new approach, setting expectations will be fundamental, which is why it’s important to be data-driven with your account selection and start with a small number of high-value accounts that can help to drive those early successes. 

Become overzealous, and you risk losing buy-in before you can show any true results.

“I think when someone follows the data instead of trying to establish a huge ABM program, and focuses on a few accounts which are the most valuable to the company, I think there's a higher chance of success.” - Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP at SAP

When done right, ABM can power Customer Lifecycle strategies to foster long-lasting, meaningful, high-value relationships. The challenge is in adopting the right mindset and securing that internal alignment.

Hungry for more ABM insights? 

Check out more of our Let’s talk ABM learnings from industry experts, or why not subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter DashDot for the latest insights hot off the press?