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ABM: It's a team sport

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak with Phillip Angerhofer, Global Lead of Expansion Marketing at ON24, about how to build long-lasting relationships through ABM.

Date published: Date modified: 2022-12-22 strategicabm 550 60

Phillip Angerhofer
Global Lead, Expansion Marketing | ON24

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Phillip’s B2B Marketing experience has spanned roles at Qualtrics, Puralsight, and now ON24. His role at ON24 has seen him launch Account-based Marketing to grow share-of-wallet and reputation in existing accounts. Phillip’s passionate about building relationships with his Sales colleagues.
Declan heads up Marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the strategicabm brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

Watch this episode and learn:
  • How to stand up an ABM strategy from scratch
  • How to pitch Marketing successfully to your CEO
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
  • How to build long-lasting relationships with Sales
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ABM: It's a team sport

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) – Today I'm joined by Phillip Angerhofer, who's the Global Lead of Expansion Marketing at ON24. Phillip, thanks so much for joining us today.

Phillip Angerhofer (ON24) – Yeah, absolutely. Happy to be here, Dec.

Declan (strategicabm) – Well, we've been chatting for a while now, back and forth and trying to organize, you know, dates, times, et cetera. You are over at Mountain Time. Where are you based?

Phillip (ON24) – I am near Salt Lake City.

Declan (strategicabm) – In Salt Lake City. So it's a bit of a time difference between Salt Lake City and Madrid. But I'm really grateful for you for getting up early this morning to do this recording, so thank you.

So couple of things really, first to start off with, ON24, this is, I think, it's your second role or you've actually just recently had a promotion, but when we were talking before you were moving into your second or third ABM role, and I think, you started your ABM journey over at Pluralsight. What have you learned in that time about ABM? What do you take away from that kind of journey?

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Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, yeah. So, I absolutely cherish the time that I had at Pluralsight, really learning Account-based Marketing and there really are a few things that I would say are like my top learnings from that time.

And, number one is become a friend of the Sales team. So I think, as Marketers we have a really big inclination to say, "Oh, Marketing is right. Sales doesn't know, we need to do what we think." But what I found is that, through an extremely tight alignment, I was able to then, influence Sales and then, Sales would influence me. And so, we came to better outcomes by working together that way.

And it's fun, just that little anecdotal piece. Like, I had one of our Field Marketers comment on my relationship with one of the Sales team saying, our Field team was never able to get that close with that seller. And it's like, well, persistence, consistency, and then, just like, listening, were huge, and that was a big part of my One-to-one strategy was basically, becoming a member of that core Account team. And, I've taken that bit of advice and passed that along everywhere I could, and used it everywhere I could.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's great advice Phillip. I think, the more that those kind of barriers and silos are broken down between those two teams, the better the actual, overall company will function and perform, right?

Now, obviously when we were talking before in preparation for this interview, you were telling me that you were originally brought in to ON24, to build out the ABM strategy. If we talk a little bit about that, 'cause obviously, the situation has changed a little bit in terms of how your role’s changed, but we can kind of circle around that. But when you came in, obviously, did you have to start from scratch with the ABM strategy there at ON24?

Phillip (ON24) – Sort of, so there was a strategy put into place, previous to my starting that sort of turned into a little bit of a false start. And so, there was already some past feelings about what Account-based Marketing meant to the Sales team, to the Marketing team. And so, we had a little bit of an uphill battle with that. But besides that, we did essentially, scratch it and start from new, yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) – And if we talk about the first few months there, in your role, what was the kind of things that you kind of thought were, "I'm going to start these strategies, I'm going to look at these issues, I'm going to work on these programs." Can you paint us a bit of a picture of what you started to do there?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so I think, first off, and I think, a lot of ABMers will say this, is we had to figure out who we were going after, what were the accounts that we were really focused on. And we spent a lot of time working with the Sales team on outlining what the accounts are, how we want to segment those accounts.

And then, once we had that segmentation, we pulled together our playbook for Account-based Marketing. So, a lot of the rudimentary stuff that everybody, will agree like, "Oh yeah, you should do that." You know, we've got our paid display ads, we've got the paid media to those specific accounts using specific messaging. We built nurture programs that those ads would feed into.

And then, some of the more interesting, I think, a little bit more ON24-style things that we did is building out based off of not only third-party data, but also the first-party data, a webinar strategy for these accounts. So part of that included using webinars that we already had planned, but then also looking at pulling together different webinars that were more specific for those accounts and for the segments within those accounts.

And so, that's pretty cool, and that's something that we talk about at ON24 all the time. It's like, use your first-party data to know exactly what your audience is interested in and how to speak with them.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, and Phillip just... you mentioned a couple of things there around account selection, just out of curiosity, without giving any secrets away, what kind of industries do you find work well for your ABM programs and your overall growth programs?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so this is actually a little bit of a dip into the now, rather than what we started out with. But ON24 has a great history of working with, actually, Manufacturing companies, of course Tech companies, and then, believe it or not, Life Sciences, so Healthcare professionals and Pharma, different ways.

And so now, like kind of, where we've pivoted to is not only Marketing folks focusing on those, but building out sales plays and stuff, so that, we see a lot of really cool work there. And, that's actually something new for me. You know, my history in Account-based Marketing was really primarily, Tech and Telecom, and then, a couple other industries, you know, it's really fun to see some new industries.

Declan (strategicabm) – And just out of curiosity then, obviously, I'm very familiar with that as well. Like yourself, working with tech, and SaaS, and all that kind of thing. But what do you think is perhaps different when you are marketing to Life Sciences, or Manufacturing, compared to marketing to Tech?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so it's just a different language. Like, you almost have to have a translation dictionary with you, the whole time you're working on it. Like, we have somebody on the team that she spends her time, dedicated to researching and understanding the industries, the use cases, and the personas within those, so that we do know how to talk with them and then, how to help the Sales team speak with them. So, it's fascinating.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were talking a little about moving backwards and forwards in time, compared to where you were when you started at ON24 and where you are today. But if you want to just kind of, summarize a little bit around, the ABM programs that you have been involved in over that time, and perhaps you can share with us where you are today, but what kind of results can you share with us? What have you found has worked and can you shine a light a little bit on some of the success that you've had?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so candidly, so we have a couple people who were building out some plays for different sales segments. So I was focusing on expansion, my counterpart was focusing on acquisition. Our plays did look quite similar. And I think some of the... Well, I know some of the successes we've seen in acquisition are a little bit different than expansion.

So in acquisition, we have been able to increase the number of accounts who are engaging with us on the target account lists. And unfortunately, I don't have that number on like the percentage growth, but there's a meeting we have that our CEO is on from time to time. And so we'll give him updates on like, we're seeing this much more engagement from our accounts, whereas with an expansion, because they are at least somewhere within that account, they're already a customer, we see a pretty consistent percentage of those accounts, already engaging on our website, with our marketing activities.

And so a lot of the success that we're seeing there, is some of that, a little bit less tangible success, but the Sales, Marketing, and Business Development alignment. We are seeing amazing strides in partnering with those teams, to the point where I was actually looking at our funnel, yesterday and over the past couple days, and what we're seeing in expansion over the last six months compared to the last 18 months, is moving from an SQL, or an opportunity that a BDR is suggesting into an actual opportunity, we've been able to increase that average from like, 85% up to like, 95% in expansion. And part of that comes from the alignment that we're seeing, that really kicked off through this Account-based program.

Now, in terms of pipeline influence and other metrics, it's really hard to say. We launched this pretty much at the start of where the macroeconomic climate has really changed. And so, honestly, it's kind of like, I know that we are getting more reach within these accounts, we're seeing more engagement, but other metrics are really hard to measure in comparison due to that climate.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah. I think, we can touch on that a little bit as well, perhaps later on the current climate that we're in what's going to be coming, 2023 is just around the corner and who knows what's going to be coming down the road.

But you mentioned actually, about your product, ON24, and how have you used that perhaps in your strategy, in your ABM, go-to-market strategy? Have you used your own solution?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, yeah. So I did mention it briefly, about kind of, customized webinar programs. The way that we look at it, and I actually, gave a talk on this recently at the 6sense conference, of taking, through kind of the webinar journey, and turning that into a funnel.

So we get the pre-event, the during event, post event, and then, through that whole journey, we can apply that as well to the Account-based journey that we take our accounts on it at ON24, where, pre-event, we're looking at the old first-party data, we're looking at intent data, we are then taking that and building the activities and interesting webinars or white pages, whatever, that are focused on that activity.

And then as a person moves through that journey, they're, you know, or an account moves to that journey, jumping into the webinar, we're then able to use our product to capture even more first-party data, capture that engagement data.

And then at the back end of that webinar, we have even more first-party data that we're able to take and apply to our strategy, but we also, seamlessly integrate that with our CRM. And then, the Sales team has access to all of that data. So not only are they having a lead passed over to them, but then they can see, "Okay, this person asked this question, they responded to the survey in this way."

And then we as Marketing can partner with the Sales team to help tailor follow up, so that there is an account follow up. Especially, if there are more than one person on that account who are attending these types of events, sending out a post-event content experience with ON24 Target. We have ON24 Target, which is, I mean, the easiest way to describe it is kind of a content outbound tool where you can quickly build pages with, maybe a webinar up in the header and then, you've got different tiles with like a request demo, a case study or something.

So we're able to personalize that as well to the accounts and get that into our Sales' hands, and they can use that as part of this follow up. So there really is a whole journey that we use the platform for and if it's a bigger event, we're able to use our virtual conference platform, or go live and hosting smaller forums on another of our products. So it's really fun that there really is a big ecosystem that we've built around that virtual events and engagement that is really powerful for an Account-based motion.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah. That sounds fascinating and I think, it ties in nicely as you said, to try to understand the level of engagement of what your target accounts are expressing, and then, obviously serving them up content which is of value to them and allowing them to self-discover in a way. And obviously then, when they raised their hand for your Sales and Account teams to be aware of what's happening and to engage in real time, right? Which is I think, the best way to do things.

One thing, Phillip, we were talking about before, you mentioned, and I thought it was kind of fascinating actually. You were talking about a pitch that you and your team did. This was a while back now. You did a pitch to your CEO to explain your kind of, Go-to-market strategy and what you were looking to achieve.

I think, it'd be interesting for the audience, 'cause obviously, this whole kind of, you know, the role of Marketing and organizations, how Marketing is perceived in different organizations, how the CEO and the C-suite look at the role of Marketing. What was your approach to kind of, doing that pitch and what did you have in the back of your mind thinking, what were the key points you wanted to make sure that the CEO of ON24 registered that he took away? He or she, rather, took away from that pitch.


Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so number one, and we still think this way whenever we're pitching to him, is we want him to see that Marketing, Sales, and Business Development are all aligned, that we're all pointing towards the same objective. So, that was the first, wanted him to know that we worked on this together.

Next, we really wanted him to see that the Go-to-market strategy was not exhaustive, but was robust. That it wasn't just us saying, "Okay, we'll run an event for these accounts”, but it was this whole account selection strategy, moving through various Marketing activities and then, nurturing, and then, working with the Sales team on follow up. So, we wanted him to see that it was robust and thorough.

And then, finally just that it was well thought out, that it wasn't something that we just slapped together. We kept him up-to-date, as we were building the whole time. And, as a proper CEO, he wanted it done quicker and quicker, which was good to help push us along the way. Yeah, so I'd say those are the three main points.

Oh, and then it was easy to digest, so that the presentation that we gave is something that felt tangible when we talked about it.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, and what was the outcome then, Phillip, from that pitch?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so we had the thumbs up to go, and drive and do, and we had the budget then to run the paid media and kind of, got us kicked off and going. So yeah, it went well, and we had his support.

Declan (strategicabm) – Okay. Great to hear. I think, you mentioned at the very beginning of this episode talking about the relationship that you've built with Sales and having that kind of, talking the same language as them and building that kind of rapport and empathy with them is really important. I think, it's also the same with the C-suite, right? Talking to the CEO, CFO, COO, you've got to be able to build that rapport, that relationship with them.

Obviously, we mentioned at the very beginning as well, that you've moved into a new role relatively recently, and I think, as a Global Lead of Expansion Marketing, what's the difference now? What are you looking to achieve now, in this new role?

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, so, we still are thinking Account-based, but that's not my only priority now. So, while I am helping build out verticalized plays, and use case plays, and still have my mind on these top 200 or so accounts that we had identified, I'm also focusing on areas like upsell, as well as, expansion in our commercial area.

I've recently hired somebody to help out as well, and she's focusing on that commercial expansion a bit more, but my scope just got bigger, rather than being able to focus just on those 200 accounts, I now have two entire sales segments that I have to focus on, you know, upwards of close to 2,000 accounts probably at this point.

And so, there's definitely a lot more alignment with Sales leadership that's happening now, than it was before, which is awesome. But we're focusing less on just those individual's account segments and more on the whole, which is... It's still great. We're still Account-based, but it's definitely less focused on that way.

Declan (strategicabm) – Well, you were saying that your whole role has expanded. Hopefully, your working hours haven't expanded at the same time. Hopefully you're not doing too much overtime?

Phillip (ON24) – No, no, it's not too bad.

Declan (strategicabm) – Well, let's just finish off with some rapid fire questions, Phillip, and you mentioned actually earlier around ABM and it being a journey. Now, what do you think, and we can talk about ABM actually, the kind of, wider go-to-market as well, but what's been your greatest learning from this whole journey that you've been on over the last few years?

Phillip (ON24) – I would say, you need to have buy-in to be able to focus on it over a long period of time. There are so many companies that expect Account-based Marketing to be this silver bullet, that says, "Well, let's put the ABM team on it and like, have them figure this out."

And it's like, well, you know, I worked on some accounts where it took us probably 8 months to 12 months before we saw the return. We didn't see the growth until the renewal. And based off of, if had that been a quick hit type activity, we would've been pulled off it, pulled off budget, but it came, it just takes time.

I've spoken with other ABM professionals who have said that, we try and push to have two to three years on an account before we decide if we're keeping it or moving on. So, it takes time. Especially, like the One-to-one type motion. Like, it's not going to fix something overnight.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think I'd agree. I think, if you think about kind of, the origins of ABM, which is literally, 20 years old now, back in 2002, that was for large companies such as Accenture, Unisys, Oracle, Fujitsu, these kind of companies that have huge, huge, huge customers, and they're willing to put in the effort, they're willing to put in the time, they know that the customer is worth it. And so those kind of Account-based strategies, are just part of their overall play.

But I think as Account-based Marketing has kind of gone, kind of wider and deeper into the market, companies that are a lot smaller than the likes of Fujitsu, and Oracle, and Accenture, are now expecting ABM to be one more of their marketing strategies that will pay back very quickly, and that you can turn it on, and suddenly, you've got a whole bunch of accounts and leads, et cetera. And, that's just not the case as you said.

So that actually, leads me to a question around misconceptions. What kind of misconceptions do you think are out there around Account-based Marketing? What do you hear people say and you think, "No, that's not Account-based Marketing."

Phillip (ON24) – Account-based display that's a part of it, but Account-based display alone is not Account-based Marketing. That's just working on a target list and then, obviously the silver bullet thing, like it's not a silver bullet.

And, to me it's not just a Marketing strategy. Like if you're not working with your Sales team on your strategy, then it's not going to provide the results you're looking for.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think, I totally agree with you there. I hear lots of people say, "Yeah, we send, you know, Starbucks coffee vouchers," or "We do some paid ads on LinkedIn," and those are all tactics that you might choose to do in an ABM strategy…

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, it's part of it.

Declan (strategicabm) – But then, yeah, yeah. It's not ABM. And what would you, from your experience of doing Account-based Marketing over the course of the last few years, what's the hardest thing that you find whenever you start a new motion?

Phillip (ON24) – Oh, the hardest thing to start a motion is probably getting the alignment from all of the teams, and even getting from Marketing, like the alignment that, "Okay, Account-based is focusing on this, it doesn't mean this." And making sure that everyone is speaking the same language and understanding what it means, because once you're aligned that way, then you can move forward. But until you're aligned, it's going to be, definitely an uphill battle.

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think, the advice that I give people is sit down and with a pen and paper, define what ABM means for your organization. Get the relevant people in Sales, in your C-suite, in your Marketing team, get everyone to agree that they are happy with that definition. Then you can work out, "Okay, well, the objective, what's the outcome we want?" Make sure it aligns with the Sales' objectives, and the overall business objectives.

If you can get those three things done, then your alignment is going to be a lot easier. Otherwise, you're going to be struggling, you know, to get everyone back on board when you come back around and tell them what you've done, right?

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So, very, very last question for you, Phillip, today. You've had a really hard week, okay? And you're just about to shut down your Apple MacBook Pro that you've got there and you're looking forward to a great weekend, and an old colleague phones up and says, "Hey Phil, I'm going to have to launch an ABM strategy, and they've asked me to do a quick presentation on it." And they say, "What's that one piece of advice you give me that I need to make sure I mention in the presentation next week?" What's that one piece of advice you would give them?

Phillip (ON24) – Oh, I mean, I think I've sort of touched on it, all over the place, but I think that, in that presentation, they would need to talk about how they are aligned with the Sales leaders, with the Business Development leaders, and how the whole Account-based motion will pass from Marketing through to Sales, and vice versa.

Declan (strategicabm) – So I think, that's interesting that, that thread, which starts at the very beginning of this episode has come through the whole interview is the key for working with Sales. The key that ABM is not Marketing, it's actually far greater than Marketing. And unless you get that alignment, you're going to be on the wrong path.

Phillip, thanks so much for sharing your ABM journey with us today. I wish you and the team there at ON24, every success for the future. And, thanks for all your time today.

Phillip (ON24) – Yeah, I really appreciate it, Dec. It's great to be on the show.

Declan (strategicabm) – Thank you.