ABM-driven Strategies for Thriving in Today’s Market Space
ABM/ABX 08.08.2023

ABM-driven Strategies for Thriving in Today’s Market Space

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Erik Blaze interviews Mary Gilbert, CMO at Folloze, who shares her expertise on navigating the new marketing landscape and ABM-driven strategies. The conversation covers the concept of agility as a prominent factor for CMOs, the importance of customer engagement as a valuable asset, and the need for a holistic and personalized approach. Mary emphasizes the shift from traditional demand generation to ABM on steroids, combining insights, targeting, and measurement. They also discuss the integration of third-party and first-party intent signals, the transition from outreach emails to a value-added engagement approach, and the significance of ABM-driven demand gen. 

About the Guest

As CMO at Folloze, Mary brings more than 20+ years of experience standing up, modernizing, and leading high-performing integrated B2B marketing organizations. The early part of her career was spent leading the digital transformation of marketing for organizations like Microsoft, HP, and Cisco on both the brand and agency side of the business through the early introduction of B2B buyer journey alignment. Mary launched a handful of the earliest ABM programs for companies like Centrify, Microsoft, and Ingram Micro CloudBlue. Harboring a passion for team culture, organizational effectiveness, and digital transformation, Mary brings a unique perspective on the shifts needed today to navigate the dynamics of our current markets.

Connect with Mary Gilbert

Key Takeaways

  • The concept of agility has become increasingly prominent in the minds of CMOs, as companies need to adapt quickly to the digital-first environment and evolving market dynamics.
  • Engagement is the new currency of pipeline momentum, serving as a beacon of insight and guiding every action of the entire go-to-market team.
  • CMOs must effectively drive engagement and utilize it as a valuable asset for building a robust and predictable pipeline.
  • Traditional go-to-market strategies and conventional demand generation methods, such as relying solely on MQLs are losing momentum in today’s landscape.
  • The integration of third-party and first-party intent signals provides valuable insights for personalized engagement and supporting buyers throughout their journey.
  • Ineffective use and understanding of data systems can be a common hurdle for organizations, and it’s important to have experts who can maximize the potential of marketing technologies.
  • Centralization and decentralization need to be balanced in organizational design to empower frontline marketers and enable personalized experiences while maintaining brand integrity.
  • Revenue teams should transition from solely relying on outreach emails to providing a holistic engagement approach that focuses on value creation for customers.
  • Aligning sales and marketing metrics and strategies and developing coordinated plays that support personalized information and leverage intent signals is crucial.
  • Breaking down silos and ensuring everyone has access to the same experience platform and data helps create a seamless experience for buyers.
  • Marketing operations (MOPS) teams play a vital role in transformation and should be considered a valuable resource for insights and strategic implementations.
  • The ABM-driven demand gen model is gaining popularity among CMOs as a means to not only survive but thrive in the current market space, offering scalability, personalization, and agility.
  • Leveraging available data and insights enhances decision-making and optimizes team efficiency, resulting in an enhanced buyer experience.


Technology is moving way faster than humans can adapt, and we’re all still trying to catch up.”  Mary Gilbert

Highlights from the Episode 

Why has the concept of agility become increasingly prominent in the minds of CMOs?

Mary explained that agility has gained prominence due to several factors. The digital transformation of the marketing landscape and the rapid evolution of technologies have created a digital-first environment. The events of 2020, including the pandemic, accelerated the shift to a digital-only world. This sudden change required companies to adapt quickly and adjust their strategies. Mary mentioned that traditional demand generation techniques, such as spray-and-pray methods, no longer yield effective results. Companies need to be agile and make moves promptly to keep up with the evolving market dynamics.

In today’s landscape, how do CMOs effectively drive engagement and utilize it as a valuable asset for building a robust and predictable pipeline?

According to Mary, engagement has become the new currency of pipeline momentum. CMOs need to focus on fostering and measuring engagement throughout their entire go-to-market teams. She explained that the GTM team consists of various roles, including marketers, SDRs, AEs, and CSMs. Each member of the team plays a crucial role in delivering excellent experiences to customers. Mary emphasized the importance of providing relevant and high-value experiences to buyers by understanding their individual needs. To achieve this, CMOs should adopt a digital platform that helps sense buyer behaviors and deliver personalized experiences consistently.

Are traditional go-to-market strategies and conventional demand-gen methods losing momentum?

Mary firmly believes that traditional go-to-market strategies and conventional demand generation methods, such as MQLs are losing their effectiveness. She stated that relying on forms and checkboxes to define leads is no longer aligned with how buyers operate. Buyers now gather information independently and at their own pace before engaging with sales reps. Mary highlighted the annoyance that buyers feel when they receive calls or emails immediately after attending an event or downloading content. Instead, she advocated for meeting buyers at the moment with personalized content and experiences that assist them in their independent research. Mary emphasized the need for a shift in focus from lead generation to supporting buyers across the entire buying journey.

How do you approach the integration of third-party and first-party intent signals to obtain the right level of insight?

When it comes to integrating third-party and first-party intent signals, Mary provided insights into their respective roles. Third-party intent signals, she explained, are aggregated data from digital channels, indicating company-level interest in specific topics. These signals are useful for outbound targeting and top-of-funnel account prioritization. However, they have limitations in providing insights at the individual level due to privacy regulations. Mary mentioned that third-party signals can be valuable for developing campaign audiences and refining focus based on prospecting results. On the other hand, first-party intent signals are obtained from a brand’s digital ecosystem, capturing individual-level behavioral data. Mary highlighted capturing and integrating this data into GTM tools to enable personalized engagement and consistent experiences. By combining third-party and first-party intent signals, companies can better understand buyers’ needs and deliver tailored experiences.

What are the common challenges when integrating intent data into a go-to-market strategy, and how do you navigate them?

Mary discussed two common challenges when integrating intent data into a go-to-market strategy. The first challenge is inexperienced users. Many companies are still in the early stages of utilizing tools and technologies, often using default settings and missing out on hidden capabilities. To overcome this challenge, Mary recommended hiring experts who can guide them in setting up the tools correctly and maximizing their potential. Clear communication of goals and strategy implementation is crucial for effectively utilizing intent data.

The second challenge is the integration of data into a centralized place accessible to all key players. Mary emphasized the importance of having a dashboard that aggregates all pipeline data and insights in one place. This allows the entire team to access and utilize the data effectively. Additionally, assigning someone to draw insights and orchestrate plays based on the data ensures that the data is applied meaningfully. Establishing standard metrics, interpreting the data, and providing guidelines and content to support actions based on the insights are also important strategies for navigating these challenges.

Why is the ABM-driven demand gen model increasingly popular among CMOs as a means to thrive in the current market space?

Mary highlighted the reasons behind the increasing popularity of the AMB-driven demand gen model. Traditional demand-generation techniques are no longer effective, and buyers now expect a high level of personalization. The ABM model addresses these challenges by focusing on specific accounts in the market and delivering personalized experiences to the entire buying group. This approach combines scalability, relevance, personalization, agility, and measurement. It aligns with emerging best practices that converge ABM and digital marketing, allowing companies to meet buyer expectations efficiently. By adopting this approach, companies can achieve sustained customer interest, commitment, and loyalty, ultimately driving ongoing revenue and success.

When it comes to organizational design and development, how do you envision creating an environment that enables companies to execute marketing teams’ work effectively? How can available data be leveraged to inform decision-making and optimize team efficiency for an enhanced buyer experience?

When it comes to organizational design and development, Mary emphasized the need for a shift in mindset from traditional centralized models to a more agile approach. She discussed the importance of finding a balance between centralization and decentralization to enable marketing teams to work effectively. According to Mary, frontline marketers, often referred to as field marketers or ABM quarterbacks, should have the necessary tools to personalize experiences for different types of buyers and accounts. However, they must do so in a way that maintains brand integrity and compliance while connecting back to the larger data tools used by the team. 

Mary highlighted the significance of creating a holistic journey experience for the team, where each person plays a role in the buyer experience and is empowered to act in the moment while staying relevant to the buyer. She emphasized that a centralized digital experience platform, owned by a team that is disconnected from the rest of the go-to-market (GTM) team, hinders the ability to achieve this level of responsiveness. Instead, a combination of third-party and first-party data, along with the right experience platform, is essential for creating a focused and responsive environment. Furthermore, Mary highlighted the need for the right organizational mindset, dynamics, processes, and user-friendly tools to ensure that engagement becomes a team sport, where everyone feels empowered, connected, and ready to respond.

In the pursuit of delivering exceptional experiences to prospect accounts, how can revenue teams transition from relying solely on outreach emails to providing a more holistic engagement? What steps or strategies can revenue teams employ to go beyond simply asking for the sale?

Mary stressed the need for revenue teams to shift their focus toward providing high-value experiences and value creation for customers. She suggested aligning sales and marketing metrics and strategies, developing coordinated plays that serve personalized information, breaking down silos to create a seamless buyer experience, and encouraging salespeople to engage systematically and multi-thread in accounts.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?



Jon MillerCMO at Demandbase

Jessica KaoSenior Director, Marketing Operations and Martech at Cloudflare

Jason WidupVP of Marketing at metadata.io

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Sunny Side Up

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