Evolving with ABM
ABM/ABX 06.01.2023

Evolving with ABM

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Isaac Atashkar interviews Ryan Almond on the evolution of Account-Based Marketing and how ABM has changed over the past two decades. From a salesperson’s one-on-one customer relationship to leveraging technology for personalization and a better customer experience, Ryan explains how to scale an ABM strategy enterprise-wide. He suggests piloting it first, setting shared goals between sales and marketing teams, leveraging technology, and building the right strategy. Also discussed is the importance of starting small, scaling deliberately and incrementally, and having a strategy in place before implementing technology. They also introduce the concept of an “account-based enterprise,” which speaks to aligning all functions within an organization to provide customers with a first-class experience throughout their lifetime relationship with the company.

Additionally, they discuss Artificial Intelligence, automation, and deflationary technologies that are aiding in this trend, as well as how companies such as Henkel have achieved success due to their long-term vision and focus on delivering value. 

About the Guest

Ryan began his career at IBM before moving on to GE, working on building out their global ABM strategy and infrastructure. He is currently working on business transformation by taking ABM to scale at Henkel. Ryan holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Marketing & Strategic Management.

Connect with Ryan Almond

Key Takeaways

  • ABM has been around for multiple decades, but its practical implementation has changed drastically. 
  • Customers now demand more personalization and convenience from businesses. 
  • Technological advancements have put “rocket boosters” on ABM. 
  • Marketers should pilot their ABM strategy before scaling it up enterprise-wide.
  • Don’t grow too fast. Scale slowly, deliberately, and incrementally.
  • Technology is only as good as the strategy which proceeds it. 
  • It has to be done incrementally and cannot be jumped straight to the point of scale. 
  • Having the capability to do something doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to do it and implement it. 
  • Strategy always trumps technology as it helps to go after markets in an efficient manner. 
  • Account-based marketing is about the prioritization of accounts and personalization at scale. 
  • Account-based enterprise is about aligning all functions internally for a first-class experience. 
  • Technology has enabled the construction of a single view of the customer
  • Account-based enterprises organizations will be propelled by AI and automation in the next 10 years


 “If you are obsessing around delivering the best possible customer experience, I think that’s what sees you through those external realities, and not reacting for reaction’s sake to that. I think it is all about what is your long-term vision.” – Ryan Almond

Highlights from the Episode

Can you tell us about the evolution of ABM over the past two decades and how it has changed since its inception?

Ryan discussed the evolution of account-based marketing over the past two decades. He noted that while ABM has been around for a while, its practical implementation has undergone significant changes. In the past, ABM relied heavily on salespeople and interpersonal relationships with clients. However, customer demands for convenience, personalization, and stronger relationships have reshaped ABM. Technological advancements have played a crucial role, enabling precise targeting, personalized experiences, and detailed analytics. These advancements have propelled ABM’s growth, making it a more influential strategy today. ABM now focuses on delivering exceptional customer experiences and achieving business goals.

What does the process of transitioning from a pilot to scaling up a marketing strategy enterprise-wide, incorporating the essential ingredients for success, entail?

Transitioning from pilot to scaling up a marketing strategy enterprise-wide requires key ingredients for success. In the B2B space, piloting has gained prominence due to the agile philosophy of gradually investing resources in unfamiliar strategies. Piloting involves bringing stakeholders, decision-makers, and budget holders on board within the company. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) involves collaboration between sales and marketing throughout strategy design, implementation, and evolution. Implementing ABM across the organization immediately is not feasible. Hence, the pilot approach starts on a smaller scale to prove its effectiveness before expanding.

The pilot phase focuses on a single market or region, aligning marketing and sales from the beginning and establishing shared goals. Lead generation, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, revenue, and customer value are key areas of focus. Personalized content for target accounts can be effective, leveraging synergies and ensuring relevance. Starting small with sufficient proof points is crucial. Collaboration with sales, marketing, commercial excellence, and product development teams is essential. Leveraging technology like shared dashboards enables monitoring metrics and customer feedback during the pilot phase. Demonstrating tangible value and surpassing benchmarks is vital for communicating success across the organization. Once the pilot demonstrates effectiveness and delivers significant value, stakeholders should be informed. Showcasing the impact on markets, customer value, and metrics through shared dashboards is important. If the pilot exceeds expectations, it serves as a foundation for scaling up, considering the organization’s capacity for expansion.

What are some typical challenges you have encountered while building those components within the pilot and scaling up, and how can listeners benefit from your experiences to avoid reinventing the wheel?

Ryan highlighted typical challenges encountered while building components within the pilot and scaling up. The first challenge was obtaining an agreement to scale, especially in markets with longer buying cycles. Clear communication with stakeholders about achievable goals and timelines was crucial. Another challenge was avoiding rapid growth without internal readiness. Ryan advised a deliberate and incremental approach, focusing on people, processes, and technology. Protecting the established process and aligning technology with the strategy were also emphasized. Ryan emphasized that scaling ABM required a multi-year, incremental process for sustainable success.

Why is having the right strategy more important than having the best technology? Can you explain why strategy takes precedence over technology? 

Ryan explains that strategy takes precedence over technology because although technology offers capabilities, having the right strategy is crucial for success. While technology can enhance and execute the strategy, it does not make strategic decisions. The business’s understanding of the market and prioritization should come first, with technology serving as a tool for efficient implementation. Ultimately, strategy determines success in the marketplace, while technology aids in targeting, personalization, and analysis. Ryan concludes that strategy always trumps technology.

What are some emerging concepts and trends within account-based organizations in the current climate?

Ryan identifies emerging concepts and trends within account-based organizations. He highlights the shift towards the account-based enterprise, where functions like sales, marketing, product development, and customer service align to provide a top-notch customer experience. Technology plays a vital role by offering a comprehensive view of the customer journey. This advancement has accelerated ABM and will continue to propel the account-based enterprise beyond marketing and sales.

How do you envision the evolution of this within the next 10 years? Where do you foresee the account-based organization heading in the future, and what would it resemble in the long term, specifically in a 10-year timeframe?

Ryan envisions a substantial evolution of the account-based organization in the coming decade. He believes that the widespread adoption of AI and automation will drive this transformation, leading to significant advancements in customer engagement, operational efficiency, and overall productivity. With the integration of AI technologies, businesses will be able to offer more personalized and tailored experiences to their customers, resulting in improved satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, the implementation of automation will streamline internal processes, reducing manual efforts and enabling teams to focus on high-value tasks. As a result, the account-based organization will become more agile, efficient, and effective in delivering value to both customers and internal stakeholders.

What is driving Henkel’s good start to the year and how are they adapting to the current economic downturn amidst the rush to address climate change?

Ryan attributed Henkel’s strong start to the year and successful adaptation to the economic downturn and climate change efforts to their customer-centric approach and long-term vision. With over 140 years of experience, Henkel prioritizes delivering the best customer experience and adding value through their advanced materials division. By focusing on its customers’ needs and providing innovative solutions, Henkel remains resilient and avoids short-term reactions. This approach ensures their continued success in a changing economic landscape.

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

A podcast


Tony Wells – Board Member at Yelp

Pierre TannouxVice President of Customer Experience at Henkel

Fred ChupinSenior Vice President – Global Head for Customer Experience at Henkel

Sandra Zarate – Digital Marketplace Director at Brico Depot Iberia
Ricky Abbott – President of Americas at Transmission 

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