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Let's talk ABM: How Capita built an Enterprise ABM program in 6 steps

In the latest episode of Let’s talk ABM, strategicabm CMO, Declan Mulkeen, interviewed Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita, about building an enterprise ABM program. 

ABM

Declan Mulkeen

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Mar 17 2021 - 9min Read Date published: Date modified: 2021-04-08

https://linkedin.com/in/declanmulkeen

Targeting enterprise accounts is not new. Winning those coveted large and transformative deals is a core growth strategy for many organizations.

What is new is the how. How to win, grow and retain large enterprise accounts. That has changed beyond all recognition over the last ten years. 

What has driven that change? Account-based Marketing. 

In the latest episode of Let’s talk ABM, strategicabm CMO, Declan Mulkeen, interviewed Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita, about building an enterprise ABM program. 

In the interview (full recording here) they covered:

  • How Capita rolled out a One-to-one ABM program
  • The concept of promotion and demotion of accounts 

  • Why Sales alignment is so critical to ABM success

  • How to succeed at Account-based Marketing


Here’s a summary of the key points that Christa and Declan discussed during the interview. 

6 steps to Enterprise ABM success

1. Launching ABM? Get buy-in and start small

Perhaps one of the most challenging steps in implementing an Account-based Marketing program is the initial launch. With so many factors to consider, how do you know where to start?

The key to kicking off your new program successfully is to not bite off more than you can chew. 

 

By all means be ambitious and have an image of what you want to achieve. But don’t think it will all happen overnight.

“So we started off really with just targeting three or four accounts to see how that worked and to get our process up and running” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita

ABM is not a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. 

It takes experimenting, adapting, evolving - and more often than not, you have to make mistakes before you start to see the real rewards.

You also want to consider your team - do you have the right people in place to support this new strategy? 

Having that initial buy-in is paramount to ABM success. Without it, you’re destined to lack the alignment and insight needed to draw your team together and execute an effective program.

2. Know your ABM program types

ABM is not a ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

 

Your business objectives, organizational hierarchy, and the accounts you’re targeting - among other factors - will all help inform which type of program you decide to adopt.

“To my mind, you've sort of got three very interlinked strategies, and taking away the 'ABM at scale', you've got your One-to-one ABM, you have got ABM Lite and you've also got your Deal-based Marketing as well” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita

And whilst a One-to-one program might sound the most appealing - and is often the most popular choice for salespeople - it’s not always the most appropriate option.

You need to understand what is happening inside the account that you’re looking to target. Is the account in growth, is it in decline - and why is that?

Diving into these finer details will help inform whether this is an account that you want to be investing a huge amount of time and resources into, or if, in fact, you’d be better off pursuing a different ABM program.

“We need to consider what the relationships are like - if you have no C-suite engagement at all then going straight into the One-to-one is probably going to be a really hard piece of work” -  Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita

Making sure that your Sales team is on board with the program and the approach you decide to take is crucial! 

If you don’t have that alignment at the beginning, you have no hope of gaining it further down the line. 

The key is to be really clear and honest with yourself about what it is that you want to deliver, and what you need from the Sales team to deliver that. 

Be strict with your program and set certain boundaries and benchmarks to measure by. This will help you create clear distinctions between the different program types.

After all, contrary to popular belief, One-to-one ABM and One-to-few (ABM Lite) are not the same thing!

“Our first proof of concept around ABM Lite, that's just turned straight into a One-to-one program because we weren't clear about the outcomes and we didn't put in some really strict boundaries over what ABM Lite was” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita 

3. ABM needs Sales and Marketing to speak the same language

ABM is a partnership between Sales and Marketing, bringing together the insight and expertise from both sides to help inform your strategy.

So if your Sales and Marketing teams aren’t on the same page, your strategy will likely fail. After all, you need the expertise and insight from both sides to truly understand the account and target them effectively.

 

Of course, getting that buy-in from Sales isn’t always easy. It can sometimes take some convincing, but that’s why it’s essential to build an open and transparent relationship with your Sales teams from the start. 

Show Sales the value of ABM in a way that they will engage with and understand. After all, ABM allows Marketers to be as relevant and engaging in our marketing as salespeople are in their Sales conversations.

“I think the thing that I always come back to is an ABM program allows us to be as flexible and relevant in our Marketing as salespeople are in their Sales conversations” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita 

And that’s a concept they are going to want to buy into. 

It’s just about being really open and honest with both sides about the outcomes and responsibilities that ABM entails. 

Once you have that understanding and both teams are on the same page, it’s just a case of actioning on that. 

4. ABM - it's all about shared targets

This largely follows on from the Sales and Marketing alignment. After all, you’re not speaking the same language if you’re not working towards the same goals.

 

Metrics are such an important element of ABM. To get the most accurate view of your performance, you need to build a joint Sales-Marketing dashboard. 

Your metrics should predominantly align with the three ‘Rs’: Reputation, Relationships and Revenue. This will give you the most holistic view of your performance. 

“Finding the different metrics to demonstrate that you are having a tangible impact is really important and I think the level of reporting that we provide into the business gives us the level of authority that we didn't have before that” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita 

So deciding on those metrics together, with input from both Sales and Marketing, will make a huge difference to the way you measure success. 

Whether this is a pipeline target, or perhaps something less tangible - holding both Sales and Marketing accountable will help to reinforce that partnership and establish a sense of responsibility. 

5. ABM - it's all about the research

Research is at the heart of all things Account-based. 

After all, how can you expect to target and engage with certain accounts if you know nothing about them and their challenges or interests?

fit

“You have absolutely got to understand your client and their challenges, both the personal and the professional challenges of the individuals that you are dealing with” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita 

And this doesn’t just mean understanding how your business can help them. It goes much beyond that.

You need to understand the relationships within that account and the decision-making units. 

You need to understand their personal interests and their pain points - what keeps them up at night? What are their professional aspirations?

 

All of these kinds of insights will help to inform your strategy - from whether they fit your ICP, to how you should engage with them, and how likely they are to close.

6. ABM - it's ok to fail fast

Account-based Marketing will look different to every organization. And as a result, you can’t expect to succeed straight off the bat.

 

After all, what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. So it’s going to be a bit of a ‘trial and error’ to learn what’s going to work for your business. 

But it’s these mistakes that will guide your approach and allow you to evolve.

“I think the most important advice I would get would be to set the expectation that you're going to fail fast because I think ABM is going to be different in every single organization” - Christa Norton, Head of Industry and ABM at Capita

ABM - the numbers speak for themselves

If you decide to explore the world of ABM and want to see the true benefits of a more targeted approach, you need to know that you won’t see results straight away.

But that’s not to say it won’t be worth it in the long run. 

91% of companies using ABM increase their average deal size, and 86% of marketers report improved win rates

You can learn more about all things account-based in our Let’s talk ABM webinar series, where we hear the latest insights from leading ABM experts. 

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