Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Today I'm joined by Avishek Chakrobarty, who's the Head of Global ABM Center of Excellence at Kyndryl. Avishek, thanks so much for joining us today.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) -Thanks Declan, for this opportunity. Nice to be here.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Well, that's great. Today we're going to talk about Account-based Marketing strategy. I think what caught my eye Avishek, there was, I think one of my colleagues actually might have shared a post on LinkedIn that you had published some time ago.
And I started looking into yourself and a little bit more about the company. And I kind of got a bit fascinated with the idea of talking about Kyndryl, and a little bit of a story behind that, and obviously, your ABM success.
And I think what we could do is kick off with a question around the company. Because we were chatting earlier and you shared a little anecdote with me about the company. So, the Kyndryl, obviously, it has a unique and interesting name. And I think what would be interesting if you could share with the audience, is: How did the name come about?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so Kyndryl is a kind of a portmanteau name. It's a juxtaposition of two different words, which kind of gives the best perspective of the value system of the organization, and how the leaders want to build it.
So the first part of Kyndryl is basically coming from the word "kin," which is a relationship. And the second part is taken from the word "tendril", which is how a young plant would grow, by kind of entwining itself and growing itself. So joining it together, it becomes Kyndryl, which is basically growth with relationships.
And that's kind of the leading ethos of the organization - that relationships, whether it's inside the organization or with customers, is of paramount importance. And with relationships is only how we can grow.
So I think, it's kind of embedded in all the employees who are called "Kyndryls" themselves, that we prioritize relationships. And with relationships, we help each other as well as customers grow.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - And you call yourself "Kyndryls?"
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - That's interesting. Okay, well that's helpful for the audience, because obviously, I think that'll lead onto my second question, which will help people to understand a little bit more about the company.
So I think what made me laugh a little bit when we were talking earlier was, you were explaining that Kyndryl is a startup, but then you went on to say, "Well, it's a startup that's two years old. It has 90,000 employees and $18 billion in revenue." So that's obviously some startup. Tell us a little bit about the secret behind this startup.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - So I think the inception of Kyndryl happened with the desire to be able to focus on core businesses.
So IBM had its product side of the business, and they wanted to focus on that. And they had a huge IT service and consulting wing, which was doing global business under the IBM umbrella. And they wanted to kind of hive it out and make it stand on its own feet as a leader in that space itself, and it required dedicated attention and focus.
So that's how Kyndryl came into being two years ago and kind of started operations as a fledgling, but a heavyweight fledgling in this space. And why we call it a startup, is that I think right from top to bottom the philosophy is that we are young, we need to make our mark in the space, and we need to be agile.
And today, right now, given the current scenario, you see a lot of startups who are very agile, and the way they grow, the way they're able to kind of penetrate markets is because of that agility. So, the whole concept of calling ourselves 'startup' is also to kind of build that mindset that we need to be agile, we need to be able to move faster as compared to any other player in the market, to be able to grow, and make a space for ourselves, and a name for ourselves.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - I mean, that's an interesting story, 'cause obviously, that background obviously then is that part of the IBM business. And IBM decided to assess their business offering and how they go to market, and they basically hived off parts of the company and their services, and that created Kyndryl.
So it's, in a funny kind of way, it's almost like a dowry in terms of the IBM giving a new company a dowry of 18 - whatever - $18 billion of revenue and 90,000 employees. And off you go, go, go! Go, and go and explore the world, basically. So let's talk a little bit about... go ahead. Sorry, go ahead!
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Sorry, it's just, I think, from the 'dowry' perspective of things, I think the biggest dowry that IBM would've given would be the people. Because they are the ones who are kind of visioning and charting the roadmap on how things will happen.
And obviously, customers make our business, so that forms the pillar. And that's why I think the whole focus is heavily on the relationship part.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - I think that's definitely coming through, and I think there's some things we're going to touch on a little bit later, which will show that in a bit more detail. So obviously, this podcast is called "Let's Talk ABM". So, let's talk a little bit about ABM.
So I think one of the things that grabbed my attention when we were having our original conversation was the fact that you are the kind of the Head of the ABM Center of Excellence. For the audience, can you share what an ABM Center of Excellence is, and how would you explain it to a non-ABM audience? So there's kind of two questions there: What is an ABM Center of Excellence? And how do you break it down for, in simple terms?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so, in my, like, perspective an ABM Center of Excellence is nothing but a consulting agency inside the organization, which will look at current processes, current ways of engaging with your customers, and bring the personalized aspects of ABM into play. And, give the guidance and roadmaps and strategy on how we can do things better. And I think all of it is built on the Three Rs, like the basic fundamental Three Rs.
In Kyndryl, we call it RRS because we are a service organization. We don't call it "revenue", we call it "signings". So everything that the Field Marketers or our Marketing colleagues do, we kind of, as an ABM CoE, want to embed the philosophy of ABM. Philosophy of building relationships, building reputation, which leads to revenue and signings, how do we kind of tie it in?
And also I think, CoE, in my opinion, would act as the glue between the different functions, both within and outside Marketing when it comes to interacting and working with customers. Because any organization, the biggest challenge is that everyone has their own KPIs, OKRs, and they will go in that direction. How do we tie it into one uniform philosophy is what ABM does. And as I said, for a layman's term, it's a high-level consulting organization or entity inside the larger organization to deploy the philosophy of working together, aligning together to achieve your business outcomes.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So, you said that you don't have the Three Rs there, but the RRS. What was the third? What was the "S"?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - "S" is basically a substitute for revenue; we call it as "signings" because we are a service organization. So signings matter more than just counting the revenue on that part.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - And by "signings", what do you mean by that?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Signings means any of the contracts that we sign with our customers, which is a kind of a proxy for the revenue part.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Understood, understood. Because obviously, you've been involved in ABM for some time now. At what point - and not everyone has an ABM Center of Excellence, not many, not every company, rather, who's doing ABM, has an ABM Center of Excellence - so, at what point do you think companies should consider an ABM Center of Excellence?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - I think it also kind of ties back to the founding principles of ABM. That ABM is not something that you can do at any point of time. You need to reach a level of maturity.
So I would say, like, if I have to kind of give prescriptive advice that "When are you ready for ABM?" is when you have, like, a significant chunk of, say, a Fortune 500 list as your customers.
Large accounts, which have a lot of headroom to grow and you are maybe doing a part of the pie, but how do you want to grow inside that? And secondly is that, if your leadership - from top - also believe in the fact that "this is the way" and we are ready to invest time, money and effort, and work to align the teams.
So I think, if your customer's size is big, they're large enterprises spanning across multiple geographies, multiple business units, and there is a philosophical or strategic shift at a leadership level that, "This is what we want to do" is when you can actually look at an ABM CoE to kind of gel together the whole thing.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - That's an interesting term there, "to gel together". So, because I think, just thinking about how it operates there, you've obviously got everybody who can call on the ABM Center of Excellence, right?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Whether it's for a discreet campaign, or whether it's for some literature, or some best practices. So I suppose, one question that kind of strikes me is, how do you make, with such - I mean, 90,000 employees, you know, it's a huge company - how do you make people aware of the ABM Center of Excellence? How do people know it exists?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so I think I am a bit lucky in that aspect because a lot of that making awareness part has happened very, very aggressively from the leadership level, from the CXO level.
So when I joined Kyndryl, ABM was not an unknown term. People knew about ABM, people were already kind of on the path of working together to imbibe that mindset in their whole organization. But I think, it comes from leadership. Without buy-in and belief and kind of vision of ABM from the leadership, it's very difficult to kind of just set up an CoE and make yourself popular across the board.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. Understood. Well, I think I've got a question, I think that probably leads nicely now from what you've just said. So one thing that you were saying to me previously, Avishek, is that you said that ABM acts as a bridge, and that the function that you have there at Kyndryl it sits on top of all functions, and I think you're saying digital, technology, et cetera.
And then you also spoke about the way that you operate there, a kind of a hub-and-spoke model with your regional Field Marketers. So tell us a little bit more about... because obviously, that's an interesting concept there for people to think about from an ABM point of view, that it acts as a bridge. Tell us a little bit more about how Kyndryl sees ABM.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so the model has been built in with a lot of thought in terms that we need intelligence, we need information about accounts and market. Like, someone sitting at a central location may have access to some part of the third-party data, but not the ground intelligence. So what makes it more valuable is the Field Marketers who are day-in, day-out working with the clients on the ground, in their markets, to know how the winds are in the market.
And it's a two-way communication. It's not just that CoE will sit and give directives that, "Do it this way, do it that way." What we do is, it's a bidirectional communication.
We take feedback from the Field Marketers to understand what are the pain points, how are things kind of trending in their market, in their accounts, and then apply our experience and our data points to say that, "Okay, for so-and-so account, given these circumstances that you have just mentioned, maybe a certain way of approaching would be better than the other." So that's one part of the model.
And obviously, there are supporting functions all across. Brand team is there, your PR team is there, Business Intelligence team is there. So, they're all stakeholders.
Like, for any activity that we do, data forms the core of our decision-making. Inputs from Field Marketers, insights from the Business Intelligence, guidance from the Brand, guidance from the Content come together to be able to kind of create a package which we can then give to the Field Marketers saying that, "Hey, this is something which will work most, has the highest probability of working, given the market feedback that you have given."
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Interesting! Okay, so let's just walk into that a bit more around that area. I think we were talking before, and you kind of broke down a little bit about the ABM approach there, and the way that you apply Account-based Marketing with your customers.
And I think what's important for the audience to know is that the Account-based Marketing program that you are under is exclusively - correct me if I'm wrong - it's exclusively with customers, not with new logos or white space. So it's focused on your existing customers.
And what you were saying to me before, which I thought was fascinating. You were saying to me that there's basically two kind of areas that you focus on. One is called Social Eminence team and the other one is called Customer Eminence team. So let's start off with Social Eminence, because it's the first time I've ever heard that kind of, way of talking about things. Tell us what that team does and tell us a little bit about the magic that that team does.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so, it's a kind of a very unique team at Kyndryl. Like, even I have not had like a Social team, Social Eminence teams being called out.
So their only focus is on how do we build reputation and how do we kind of position ourselves as thought leaders, not as Salespeople pushing that, "We are good, buy from us." We want the customers to take an informed decision by looking at the level of information, expertise available, and take that judgment call.
So see, I think, the core of any relationship is trust. So, if we can build that trust, if we can build that eminence that this is someone, or this is an organization which is coming from years of expertise in this business, they have handled mission-critical activities across the globe, across industries, so they know what they're talking about.
They're not just chest thumping and telling, "We are the best, so go with us." So the Social Eminence team is working across social channels, both physical and digital to promote the Subject Matter Experts and the Senior Leaders who directly deal with CXOs and decision-makers in these large enterprise customers that we have, to showcase their knowledge, their level of thought leadership out there, and make them eminent as go-to person for any kind of advice, for go-to person for any kind of knowledge. So that's one part which builds the reputation.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, please go ahead.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Sorry.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - No, no, I was just thinking about... when you say the Social Eminence team, is it primarily focused on raising the profile of key thought leaders, Subject Matter Experts within Kyndryl? Is it focused primarily on the people, or is it also focused on the brand?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - So it's a kind of a tied-in thing. Like, we don't, like, look at people and brand as separate, like, as we say, we call ourselves "Kyndryls". So, if I am being promoted and I'm becoming eminent, by extension, it's Kyndryl, the brand, the organization that is kind of coming into the limelight. But, we focus mostly on the leaders and the Subject Matter Experts. And as I said, we try to cut across different channels, not just digital, and physical areas as well.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, and just on that point, what's the feedback from those internal people, those Kyndryls? What's their feedback when you kind of do this? You kind of, you know, raise their profile, raise their visibility? What do they say to you?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so right now, as I said, as an organization, we are two years old. As an ABM function, it's about two years old. A lot of heavy lifting had been done to kind of build the structure processes in place, and then we kind of started working.
So the Social Eminence team has been there for about a year and a half and we've worked with handful of people, and we have got like very, very good feedback. There has been feedback where client partners have come back and said that, "Hey, thanks to the work that you guys did and the insights that you gave to kind of manage my LinkedIn connections on my LinkedIn profile and engagement activities, there was a certain decision-maker in an organization who was a bit of a cold relationship, who saw my post, proactively came back and reached out to me, and we kind of hit it off and built a very, very strong relationship." So at an individual level in the customer's relationships are being built, at an organization level between Kyndryl and customer, those relationships are being built.
So we are seeing the good signs. I think, right now, the challenge is to scale it up and make it a bit more structured and ready-to-use program. And like in any other large organization, there is a lot of Marketing involved internally to kind of showcase that, what benefits can come out of it, and get people to sign up for it.
So... Yeah. ... we are seeing the early signs, good signs, so we just want to kind of build on that and keep building on that.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - No, I think, what you mentioned about trying to scale, this is probably the next challenge for you really, is getting more and more of these thought leaders. Because obviously, with an organization of your size, you've got a lot of people, and you got a lot of customers.
So let's talk about then, the Customer Eminence team. And I think, one thing you said to me before, Avishek, when we were talking was that, you said that this team is responsible for creating customer moments, which, I mean, I love that term. So tell us a bit more about the Customer Eminence team.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so the Customer Eminence team is, again, kind of a counterpart to the Social Eminence team whose focuses on building the relationship, and by an extension, have that reputation part also coming into play. But relationships are their core.
So we work with Field Marketers, the Sales teams, handling accounts to identify. It can be a small thing, it can be a business-related thing, it can be a personal skillset-level thing.
Our main objective here is to celebrate the customer, celebrate the small or big things that they do. It's absolutely, like when we talk about customer eminence, the first thing that comes to mind is: "Oh, get a customer reference, or get a customer testimonial." That's not what we are aiming for. What we are aiming is that, I'll give you a small example. Say, there's an organization who has kind of made a groundbreaking policy change of maybe matching or doing away with the gender parity in terms of roles and salaries. That's groundbreaking. Not all organizations do that, though we know that that still exists. But that's a huge thing.
So as Kyndryl, as being their partners, we want to celebrate that and showcase that. So we can showcase that account, that organization, and kind of bring them to limelight telling that, "Hey, look at them! They're doing something really groundbreaking." Similarly, there are a lot of leaders who outside of their work have passion, whether it's towards environment, towards nature, towards sports. Like, they might have varied level of expertise or skillset. We want to celebrate that as well.
So when we talk about customer moments, these are basically those moments where we publicly celebrate any success of a customer. And it does not at all have to be necessarily that, "Because of Kyndryl doing something, you have done that." It's just pure play success.
That's one part of it, when the other part of it is also creating customer moments in which where we can kind of bring together Kyndryl team and the customer team and basically have a blast!
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - No, I think that's great. And I think, if you think about the kind of the relationship that you have with your customers which are, you know, longstanding deep relationships, you know, partnerships almost. You know, when you kind of raise them up and highlight them, it kind of makes perfect sense, because you're kind of part of that in some discrete way potentially. Talking about customers, I think, just for the audience to kind of realize the kind of size of Kyndryl. I think you said to me that 75 of the Fortune 100 companies and 60% of the Fortune 500 companies are customers.
So what you said to me, what I thought was, well, and you've got a lot of work, because if you're trying to win more of these types of customers, there aren't that many left because you've almost got the whole market.
So, going back to that point around choosing ABM to be existing customers or new logos, or, you know, customer acquisition, it kind of makes complete sense in your case that your ABM program is focused on existing customers because of the size of them. That's the strategic play there at Kyndryl, right?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, absolutely. And as I said, like, relationship forms the cornerstone at Kyndryl. And I'll give you a small anecdote, like, during my discussion with Andrew, who kind of heads the entire ABM function inside Kyndryl. We are talking about account relationships and he mentioned that there is one account whose relationship spans over 100 years. From IBM days to Kyndryl, that's 100 years. And I was like, mind blown. One century of relationship, how to even like visualize that relationship. There would be generations that have passed at a leadership level with those relationships. So that's a scale or scope of the business that is there.
And as you rightly said, these are huge organizations. They have multiple business units, multiple businesses across different geographies, and any player, any player, whether it's Kyndryl or similar players would just have a bit of that pie, not even a slice of that pie. So everyone would be working to kind of get more entrenched into that organization. So building that relationship and focusing on them, I think has been a priority rather than chasing new accounts.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, if you think about the origins of ABM, you know, 20 years ago now, that started with the likes of Accenture, Unisys, looking at how they could market to one account.
And I think that's obviously, you know, ABM's evolved massively over the course of the last 20 years. But that origin, that kind of idea about, "Hey, we've got these very large accounts, they're very complex. We're only touching the surface." And I think at the same time also, you have to see the relationship. You've obviously got the customer. They are evolving, and they've got different services, they've got different geography, different locations, they're acquiring customers. But then equally, you, as a service provider, you are equally changing, equally creating new products, equally acquiring, so therefore, it's this almost dynamic relationship that's going on. And so ABM is a great tool, strategy to kind of make both companies kind of dance together and learn more about each other.
I think one thing that, when we were talking before, Avishek, that kind of made me think actually, and it's an area that many people struggle with, is the whole area of an account scoring, and obviously, these large companies, you know, if you let, you know, maybe potentially a Salesperson decide on which accounts to go after, they might be influenced by A, B, C, whereas obviously, with your ABM program, you've obviously applied science to the account scoring to see which accounts go into this program.
So could you break down briefly a little bit about how you decide on the scoring, what goes into the scoring, and that decides they go into the ABM program or not?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so, I think, there is a proprietary engine that is built by the team at Kyndryl to look at different aspects. Like, they'll not look at only at that account level, they'll look at the account, look at the industry, look at the market, and bring in all of this data to maybe create two or three unique metrics, which has its own indicators telling that if it's above a certain band, it's potential for an ABM.
So we do calculate the lifetime value of our customers, we call it LTV. It's a complex engine that kind of comes up with the varied data and boils it down to that one number. And it's not just that we are doing it mathematically and trying to figure out whether it's fit or not, there's a lot of manual intelligence that is put into, as I said, Field Marketers, Client Partners, they come back with, "What are the opportunities? What are the potential? What is the headroom looking like?" All of this gets factored.
So I think, in my experience so far, this is one of the most robust efforts that I've seen being made towards identifying clients. A lot of other ways would be like, from my previous experience it would be, we look at firmographics, we look at technographics, then we look at intent, marry together, and come kind of a ballpark figure that these would match. But, since we are dealing with customers of this size and this scale, I think it's the right approach to look at not only the quantitative aspects of that account, qualitative aspects married together to come to a kind of a band, telling that this looks as a potential.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah. And then leading on from that, you also mentioned that you do certain kind of ABM versus non-ABM accounts, and you've been looking at that impact. What's been the results of when you look at a company or a customer that has been ABMed, versus a customer that has not been ABMed?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so I think, it's a great model that has been built, because at the end of the day, I think, anyone who has been doing ABM would realize that the first challenge is showing that ABM works. And how do we show it, is to be able to compare apples to apples.
So when we take a, say, an account having a certain size under the ABM program, we do kind of keep a track and have that measurement against a similar account of similar nature.
And what we have seen is that over the last one, one-and-a-half years, there has been significant improvement in terms of the number of relationships that we are building, the number of customer moments that we are building, and the signings that we are getting, as compared to non-ABM account. So that's like kind of proof of the pie. When we compare a similar account and which is non-ABM, and an account which is ABM, we have seen that there are like significant percentage-point differences in the outcomes of the same metrics in these accounts. So, like you keep saying that ABM works! So, we are just building on that, that ABM works!
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Well, you might steal my logo then. So my little tagline there that I've been putting out there about ABM works.
One thing, I think I asked you a question when we were chatting before the recording. I said to you, you know, "What keeps you awake at night?" And I think what you said to me was that you were trying to have a single source of truth.
So, I know, that's one of the frustrations for many people who are doing ABM is how the hell do you bring the data together? Because it's coming from disparate places, but how do you bring the data together to actually try to have a single source of truth about what's actually happening? So, what have you guys there, what kind of magic have you come up with there to have a single source of truth? And are you sleeping better now at night?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, yeah, definitely, because, see, the challenge with ABM is that it cuts across so many functions. Each function would have their own metrics. And some would be leading metrics, some would be lagging metrics, which will come to fruition after the program has been run. So how do we marry them into, as I said, the three pillars, the revenue, relationship, and signings.
I would say the signings part is the most easiest part because that's reflecting; you get the dollar value upfront. Like, once a deal is signed, you know it is there. But how do we track and how do we identify that, what to track in the relationship?
There's a phenomenal job being done by the Data and Analytics team here, and we have a dashboard which kind of breaks down different aspects of the relationship into a customer relationship score. And we have our internal metrics to know that when I say a customer's relationship score is three, that is it good, is it bad? Do we need to improve it? Do we need to hold it? Or, like, how things are panning?
So we have kind of, I would say, about 80% solved the metrics, and we are kind of running with it. I am sleeping better, but there are times when I would wake up thinking that, "Okay, maybe this number would've helped."
Like, my current focus right now is on the dark social part. Like, what is happening in the web? Like, once we have the numbers in place, it's a post-mortem. Things have happened, we are looking at the number. How do we look at the numbers or metrics, or identify what metrics to look at to be able to give the predictions that: "Based on these metrics, this can be a line of action or a mode of action." So I think that's keeping me awake a little bit, but thanks to Kyndryl's current data analytics team, I'm sleeping much better.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So thanks to your fellow Kyndryls, you're getting a better night's sleep. Absolutely. Avishek, you said something there which kind of made me think: "dark social". Can you share anything with the audience about how you are managing to track anything within dark social?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - So I think I'll go back to my previous experience at Infosys, where we actually, like, we worked and got... Like, right now, I'm working to build that at Kyndryl, but we had done that. So what we try to see is, like, we do hear a lot about intent data, third-party intent, but third-party intent by alone doesn't really cut the ice. You need to kind of tie it into your first-party intent data, how... like, look at your web analytics, understand like, who is visiting? What are they visiting? How much time are they spending on a certain thing? - to kind of build a profile. And where are they coming from? what is the source? Like, what is driving them? Can we be more present there? So I think the metrics that we used to track is de-anonymizing, at least at an account level, the visitors, and understanding their heat map on the website to kind of build a picture that what are their interest level, and is it in line with what we are communicating to them or what we are taking to them?
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah. And are you using anything to kind of try to find any kind of social, I suppose, or you might. Are you using any kind of social listening or anything like that to try to attempt to know what's happening out there outside of your environment?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, so there's an active Social Analytics team who does that, and we are like, as we said, we are constantly evolving. So we are looking at different models, different platforms to see: How do we kind of standardize and come to a place where we are getting everything that we are looking at?
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. So, question for you. I did a post the other day on LinkedIn which kind of created a lot of comments and lot of people saying "yes" and some people saying "no" et cetera. I think I said something like: "The best ABMers are ex-Salespeople." And I did put a caveat saying that I've also met a lot of great ABMers who've got no Sales experience, but I was just kind of deliberately kind of provoking a conversation with the market to say, "Hey, what do you think?" Because I've met so many great ABMers who've all come from a Sales background, so you are another one to add to my list, Avishek, of people who've come from Sales. So, why do you think it is that so many people from Sales move into ABM?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - I think it stems from the whole way Sales work. Sales teams work very closely with customers. Their only objective or reason for existence is to be able to understand what the customer needs - and be there to give it to them. And if you extrapolate that, that is what exactly ABM is, to understand your customer, build that relationship, and know what is needed when, and be there to kind of help them.
So I think, mathematically, if you do a survey, you will see a lot of Sales-to-ABM transitioners maybe doing well. But I would not just say that it's because of Sales that they're doing well. There are a lot of other people who may not have ever been in Sales, but they're equally good or even better. I think what matters is, are you able to think from the point of view of the customer?
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Do you keep the customer at the back of your mind - or at the top of your mind - whenever you're doing anything? Whether it's designing a campaign, designing an event, if you look at it from only your perspective or your organization's perspective, you kind of tend to lose out on what the customer is thinking and may not... it's a hit and miss. It may hit, it may miss. But if you're looking at it from the customer's perspective, if you think that how would customer feel, how would customer digest what you're putting out there and then tailor your approach, it is bound to succeed. So I think that that's the crux of the whole thing about ABM.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Yeah, and I think there's this whole movement as well in many companies now to become more and more customer-centric, and there's kind of product-centric or internal motives. And I think, not every company is achieving that yet, but I think ABM is key to helping them to kind of become more account centric, customer-centric.
So I think that's a fair point there. Just to finish off, Avishek, some rapid fire questions, just to share your kind of expertise and your experience with the audience.
What's been your greatest ABM learning?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - You need to make people understand that ABM takes time. It works, but it takes time. Patience is required. I think patience is the biggest learning in ABM.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - That's a good one to add. And the hardest part of ABM?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Again, it ties back to patience, it's convincing people that ABM works. Because, like, there are many, many challenges when... like, there's so much of talk about ABM everywhere that there is a lot of misconception. People know bits and parts of it. And if you come across a person who has only heard that part that ABM equals bigger deals, you will have a tough time making them understand that it's the end part of the picture that you're seeing. There's a lot of thing that goes on to get there.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Well, I think I was going to ask you about misconception, but I think you've already answered that question there.
Because I think you're right to say this with anything that's popular or fashionable or new, people jump onto the bandwagon and want to try to attempt it or do it, or call what they're doing ABM. And I think that's doing somewhat some damage to what Account-based Marketing is and should be. And I think we have to be careful there and try to, people like you...
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - I think...
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Go ahead!
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Yeah, sorry, sorry. I think the biggest misconception is like, I think that's the right word is that this is, I have seen like a thread across like lot of organizations, like some which I have worked at and some which I have kind of have peers working in, is that to a lot of people, ABM is equivalent to Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, ABM ABM is not a channel, it's a strategy.
So I think that's the biggest misconception that, "Okay, we are doing Marketing, we are doing Google Ads, we are doing LinkedIn, we are doing events - let's do ABM." ABM would be all of this in one unified way and not just a standalone vertical inside an organization. Yeah, yeah.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Now, I've come across the same experiences as well, so I've felt that pain, heard that pain elsewhere. What's that one piece of advice that you would give somebody if they're going to, you know, a friend of yours calls you up and say, "Hey, Avishek, I've got to give a presentation on Monday to my boss or my CEO," whatever. And they say to you: "What's your one piece of advice that I'm going to definitely make sure that I include in my presentation." What's that one piece of advice?
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Related to ABM?
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Related to ABM.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Got it. I think the biggest piece of advice would be, don't base your presentation or the success or outcome of ABM on deal sizes that, "Hey, we'll do this and get big deals." Put more focus on the journey, and that journey will take you to the destination. It's the journey that matters, not the destination. If the journey is set up correctly, you will get the big deals that everyone is looking for.
But the biggest problem is like when we do presentations of such kind, we do those number calculation and say that, "Hey, we'll do this, this, this, but my highlight in bold and like colored highlight is dollar X per cent increase in ACV, Y per cent increase in deal sizes." If you keep your focus on that, then you will get hammered! Because people will ask from day one: "Okay, where is the revenue? Where is the revenue?" But if you tell that, "This is the journey, we will do this. We'll build reputation, we'll build relationships. Through these relationships, we'll try to get into these, these activities, which will result in faster closures, bigger deals, better relationship."
So I think the journey should be the focus, not the dollar value at the end of the tunnel.
Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Good advice, Avishek, to finish off on. Thanks so much for sharing your ABM journey today, and all the best to you and the team there and your fellow Kyndryls. It's a new term I've learned today, and every success for the future.
Avishek Chakrobarty (Kyndryl) - Thank you. Thanks Declan. Pleasure to be here.