Unlocking Sales Enablement with ABM
ABM/ABX 02.06.2024

Unlocking Sales Enablement with ABM

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Shownotes

This podcast episode features an interview with ABM expert Matthew Miller. Miller discusses his career progression in marketing and shares lessons learned. He stresses the importance of cultivating relationships when running sales enablement pilots to overcome resistance to new approaches. Miller emphasizes that successful ABM requires rethinking demand generation to focus on high-value accounts. He also covers common reasons ABM strategies fail and recommends multi-channel programs aligned with customer needs and buying cycles.

Best Moments

06:25 –  Matthew discusses his early career experiences experimenting with ABM concepts before the term existed.
11:06 –  Matthew talks about the challenges of scaling sales enablement initiatives and getting buy-in from sales teams.
14:56 –  Matthew emphasizes the importance of building relationships for successful sales enablement pilots.
28:04 –  Matthew provides a great definition of what a successful multi-channel ABM strategy entails.
32:18 –  Matthew shares a story from his early career about how SDR outreach helped build brand awareness.
47:08 –  Matthew discusses common reasons why ABM strategies fail if not properly applied.

About the guest

Matthew Miller is currently the Global ABX Principal at Workday, where he is focusing on scaling their ABM strategy to cover really the top 15% of their addressable market. Before joining Workday, he spent about four years at Demandbase, where he helped customers advance their ABM strategy. He resides in the Silicon Slopes of Utah and is a father of two rescue pups.

Connect with Matthew Miller

Key takeaways

  • Building relationships is crucial for successful sales enablement pilots to incorporate feedback constructively.
  • ABM requires rethinking demand gen to focus on a small number of high-value accounts through a multi-channel, multi-touch approach.
  • Branding and awareness lay the foundation for consideration during customers’ active buying cycles.
  • Common reasons ABM fails include misapplication, lack of strategy/ROI understanding, and reliance on a single channel.
  • Successful ABM programs identify customer pain points and leverage multiple data sources to gain trust and alignment.

Quotes

“What are those compelling events that would cause your prospects to say, oh, we need to make a change, we’re probably going to have to buy something, who should we be talking to, you can use those and ABM to start to define little clusters of accounts that are going through that.”

Erin highlights the importance of identifying compelling trigger events that get prospects into an active buying cycle as the best starting point for ABM.

Highlights from this episode

What are some of the challenges associated with kicking off small sales enablement initiatives and pilots?

Some of the challenges Matthew Miller discussed around kicking off small sales enablement initiatives and pilots include:

– Sales teams being well-trained to focus only on qualifying leads, not broader account engagement as ABM requires. This represents a change to their processes.

– Gaining buy-in from sales when pilots involve more upfront work like account research and prospecting additional contacts rather than just lead follow-up.

– Managing the operations and routines of sales teams, as pilots may disrupt their current cadences and metrics that systems are built around.

– Experimenting with sales to find what new approaches work best while also addressing potential decreased efficiency in pilots versus standard processes.

What are common reasons why companies may fail with initial ABM pilots or strategies?

ABM may not be appropriately suited if the goals do not align with the business model characteristics like typical deal sizes. Additionally, companies attempting ABM without attaining a sufficient level of marketing maturity risk misapplying tools due to a lack of frameworks for evaluating return on investment. 

Miller also noted that narrowly focusing an ABM approach solely around a single channel, such as advertising or email, without a coordinated multi-channel strategy often segments efforts in a way that leads to failure. Furthermore, he highlighted how the absence of a well-defined overarching ABM methodology and simply adding an ABM component to existing demand generation activities frequently undermines success. Miller cautioned against inaptly benchmarking ABM tactics directly against traditional channels, given they are designed to fulfill different purposes across the buying journey. Proper application and strategic design were emphasized as important prerequisites for fruitful initial ABM pilots and programs.

What tips do you have for cultivating relationships with sales teams and aligning efforts for pilot programs?

Building and maintaining relationships is key to successfully implementing sales enablement pilots. Matthew stressed the importance of keeping open lines of communication to obtain constructive feedback, rather than having projects derailed. Miller recommended carefully selecting pilot participants who are naturally inclined towards trying new approaches and have an appetite for growth. Running early pilots with individuals invested in partnership allows for failing fast and focusing on what works through iterative learning. Earning trust from sales is vital as pilots may involve decreased short-term efficiency to test engagement strategies, requiring faith that additional work will ultimately lead to better outcomes. Controlling the pilot group composition is important to find willing partners for piloting new concepts and refining approaches collaboratively through open collaboration and feedback.

Given the current economic conditions, what are your perspectives on maximizing potential market opportunities?

Matthew emphasized the importance of clearly defining a company’s brand positioning and values, which are often underappreciated but critical for standing out when market conditions deteriorate. He advocated applying McKinsey’s customer decision journey framework to identify compelling events that propel prospects from passive to active buying states. With this understanding, companies can cluster priority accounts experiencing such triggers and craft targeted content centered on the relevant needs. Miller proposed executing a coordinated multi-channel brand-building strategy to amplify exposure for passive prospects. Meanwhile, actively searching customers would be engaged through purchase intent signals. By cultivating brand awareness over time in this manner, companies can ensure their trusted brand rises to the top of prospects’ considerations when opportunities arise in the market.

Based on your experience, what do you think are some key factors for marketing success today?

Based on his extensive career experience, Matthew Miller believes several factors are important for marketing success today:

– Developing grit and determination to withstand challenges through trial and error optimization. Marketing requires perseverance.

– Cultivating people skills and finesse to collaborate within complex organizations and call out issues respectfully and effectively.

– Gaining sales skills to understand other perspectives and communicate value in a compelling manner.

– Being self-aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses to fit within a company culture while innovating productively.

– Prioritizing customer-centricity and ensuring all functions operate with customers’ needs and experiences in mind.

Miller emphasized qualities like resilience, relationship building, cross-functional cooperation, and a customer-first approach as vital in today’s dynamic marketing environment.

Resource recommendations

Books:

   – Strategic Selling

   – The Challenger Sale

People to follow on LinkedIn for insightful content:

   – Matt Heinz

   – Jon Miller

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