Account-based marketing (ABM) is easily the biggest B2B marketing buzzword that came out of 2016. This can be a good and bad thing for B2B organizations looking to implement it into their day-to-day initiatives. The good thing is that all the articles, content and social discussions show that people want to learn more about ABM and how it can impact their business. However, all this noise in the space can be confusing for fledgling ABMers to navigate.
This is one of many ABM conversations slated to take place on stage at the B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, Ariz., next week. Leslie Alore, Head of Global Marketing Operations at the enterprise information management services company Iron Mountain, will be hosting a session, titled #ABM: Two Truths And A Lie, in which she will discuss her company’s process for implementing an effective ABM strategy and—in the process—separate the noise from the signal.
In a pre-show Q&A, Alore shares a preview of her upcoming presentation, as well as tips on how to talk to leadership about implementing an ABM strategy and how sales alignment impacts that success.
Demand Gen Report: Can you share a sneak peek into what you'll be covering during your session at the B2B Marketing Exchange?
Leslie Alore: I’m going to tell people a bunch of stuff that isn’t true about ABM, and then I’m going to share Iron Mountain’s approach to navigating the ABM noise and landing on our own approach and “truth” to ABM. This presentation is inspired by my recent experiences, but also things I’ve read about and heard from others. I’ll also drop some knowledge on some marketing tech I think can truly help people. I hope it inspires others to feel a little more comfortable about ABM and I suspect they will realize they’re further along than they think.
DGR: Your session will discuss how to overcome leadership objections; any initial tips you'd share for having those types of conversations with leadership?
LA: I would start with recommending that you do NOT try to represent ABM to leadership as if it’s a new concept or initiative. When they hear “strategic initiative” they think time, impact to productivity and dollars. Instead, represent ABM as an approach to enhance the way you already do marketing, but with greater precision in your segmentation to inform on messaging, tactics and channels. And of course, to position marketing as a more aligned partner to sales. Once you define your approach and gain sales alignment, it will be easier to go back and make a case for technology to enable your approach and get those dollars to go with it.
DGR: What trials and tribulations did the Iron Mountain marketing team face when aligning with the sales team?
LA: Two big challenges: 1) Sales has always been account focused. So, when we market our ABM initiatives to sales as a new initiative, they roll their eyes and wonder what the hell we were doing before if we weren’t account-focused. Just as we market our company to the outside world, we have to market ourselves and our initiatives thoughtfully internally. Sometimes you want to reveal a new big idea and sometimes you want to be subtler. Dominos announced their pizza sucked to the world and then promoted new, better pizza. That worked for them. Consider whether you want to announce to sales that your old way of marketing sucked in order to promote your new better way through ABM. It could work … or it might not.
2) Take care not to let the hype around your initiatives overshadow the more important elements of the marketing-sales partnership. If your sales team isn’t doing proper lead management and follow-up, do you need to distract them with a message about marketing initiatives? Sales is getting bombarded from all sides, so we marketers have limited sales-mind-share. Consider carefully what you want to fill that space with.
In my session I will share where we are in the sales-alignment journey and how much mind-share we’ve achieved.
DGR: What are you most excited for at the B2B Marketing Exchange?
LA: Honestly, I love everything about this conference (location, venue, hosts, speakers, weather, activities, topics … I could go on …), and I’m extremely excited that so many different tracks are coming together this year. I hope people branch out and sample topics that are outside of their direct area of focus. I’d love nothing more than to get a few sales ops folks or content folks in my session throwing questions in that broaden the perspective. ABM has such a broad stakeholdership, and I look forward to hearing representation across multiple functions.