ABM Playbook

Building an Enterprise ABM strategy

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak to Richa Pande, Global Head of Account-based Marketing Campaigns at HP, about building a winning Enterprise ABM strategy.

Date published: Date modified: 2022-01-26 strategicabm 550 60

Richa Pande
Global Head of ABM Campaigns | HP

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img-headshot-Richa Pande

Richa's approach to ABM is to take a 'customer-backward approach' - employing data-driven insights, high octane content, and highly effective, A/B tested campaigns to break through status quo customer scenarios and address pain points. In this latest episode of Let's Talk ABM, Richa shares her insight of what makes a winning Enterprise ABM strategy.

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 webinar and learn: 

  • Why ABM is not a panacea for all B2B troubles
  • Why ABM leaders need to look beyond revenue
  • How not all ABM programs are what they seem
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
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Building an Enterprise ABM strategy

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Richa Pande, who's the Global Head of Account-based Marketing Campaigns and Content Strategy at HP. Richa, thanks so much for joining us today.

Richa Pande (HP) - My pleasure.

Declan (strategicabm) - So let's kick off then talking about HP. I mean, it's such a huge name, such a well-known company, but ABM, I believe is a relatively new strategy at HP. Why is that?

Richa (HP) - So I think they’re two things that go together. Account-based Marketing was introduced right when HP was going through its digital transformation. They were co-linked together, so I think the timing of when Account-based Marketing was rolled out at HP was very much driven by, do we have the right digital infrastructure and the right org structure in place to support ABM? Which is absolutely critical. So I think that sort of dictated the timing of the rollout of ABM at HP.

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay. So let's talk a little bit more about HP and the organization. I know that obviously attribution is a really important metric for HP in terms of measuring everything from almost like very data based, very scientifically based. And obviously, is ABM a harder sell then? When you're trying to kind of get budgets, get teams together, roll out an ABM strategy, is it a harder sell because some of the early indicators of ABM success are not necessarily hard numbers?

Richa (HP) - You know, I think for any publicly traded company, you will always be faced with the quandary of do I invest in X or do I invest in Y. The opportunity cost of doing something is always high. And I think this is where as, you know, being a Marketing leader, this is where you have to champion for the cause of Account-based Marketing.

As I've noodled a lot, as I've thought a lot about Account-based Marketing, I think Marketing in general does itself a disservice because it ends up painting itself into a corner, when it comes to attribution, it paints itself into a corner because all of the KPIs are very revenue determined or revenue related. They can be. That's like the first place where our mind goes. What is your contribution to win? What is your contribution to pipe?

And the word contribution is very polarizing because depending on how, you sort of create a dynamic where one group sits in judgement of the other group. Okay, and depending on how benevolent the other group feels about what Marketing is doing, that word contribution can mean different things. It's very subjective.

In some cases they'll be like, yeah, you know, without Marketing support providing us the air cover and the engagement, we would not have secured this win. That's on the plus on the very positive end of the spectrum.

Or on the very negative end of the spectrum, you could have a scenario where they could say, okay, you've touched this customer 48 different times, how do I know that if those 48 touches hadn't happened, that this account would not have closed?

So, the way we are looking at attribution, I think, is set up in a way to do disservice to what Marketing does. I think as a Marketing leader, you really have to think about, how do you capture the... How do you convert the intangibles into tangibles?

The, you know, so we look at KPIs in terms of, of course, they have to be revenue based KPIs, otherwise, why are we doing this? So there's a revenue column for KPIs, but then there also needs to be a relationship and you know, that needs to be measured as well.

What did you do for relationship building? What did you do for reputation building? Especially when companies shift from selling to a buyer type, and now you want to sell on outcomes and you want to elevate the conversation to a higher level of executives in the organization. At that time Marketing's job is to build the reputation for the positioning you're trying to convince the customer on.

So measuring everything on revenue, in my opinion, at this point where I stand, I think it does a disservice to the Marketing, but also to the organization, because then when the relationship with revenue is not clear, it starts cutting into your budget and ultimately in the long game, it's a lose-lose proposition.

Declan (strategicabm) - You know, I love that actually and also talking about the 'Three Rs' of Revenue, Reputation, and Relationships is really key. And obviously, we advise all of our clients to measure those three metrics as well, and obviously everything that comes under them as well. So I think, I definitely would support that.

And I always say that to our clients, that reputation and relationships are kind of the advanced early metrics and the kind of early warning signals of that revenue that will come. But you've got to build relationships. You've got to build your reputation within a company or a company isn't going to want to either buy from you as a new client or indeed buy more from you as an existing customer, right? So I think that's really key.

So then let's talk about actually the ABM program that you are currently running there at HP, Richa. Tell us, can you paint a picture a little bit of what that looks like?

Richa (HP) - So I think, I mean, if we really sit back and look at what we are doing at HP, I think what we call 'Programmatic ABM', I really think is Demand Gen against a target list that is showing the right signals and the right fit. Okay, so let's call it what it is. I think a lot of, One-to-all of Programmatic ABM is really that, it's Demand Gen with brains, right? With logic. So definitely we have that.

What we also have is 'One-to-few', where we take a very vertical-based approach and we leverage HP's value proposition and we match it to the customer fit. You know, are the customer's problems matching with what HP can solve, right? So it's taking that approach.

And then I think what we do less of, is the One-to-one, which is extremely Account-based, extremely Account-based. But in the group that I lead now for 3D Printing, the nature of the technology is such that you have to understand which applications will work best for a given customer and even in the same industry, the requirements might be different. So that scenario is very ripe for a One-to-one activation.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I definitely agree that when you kind of, well, the three things are, first of all, your point around the Programmatic and the use of kind of the One-to-many, you know, some people called it 'Air Cover', some people call it 'Always-on ABM', but that idea of using your first-party data, your second- and third-party data, your intent to be able to be more targeted, more data-driven with your focus is the right one, is a good one.

And as you then mentioned and then going into those verticals, with One-to-few, et cetera is a very, very solid strategy. But then as you move up the pyramid to the One-to-one, then you'll obviously, you're dramatically ramping up the personalization. And as you said, you really get deep into those insights about X customer, Y customers, Z customer, and really then building almost like white gloves, you know, bespoke program for them.

Richa (HP) - And that's where you shift from persona to person, right? You don't just go from like, here's how the CFO of this vertical things to actually, here is how this person X, what is the unique situation they find themselves in? What is the agenda they're trying to push, right?

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, you can really go to town really about trying to get, you know, obviously you do the industry insights, you do the company insights, the divisional insights, and then also do the Executive team or the Buying committee, or however you wish to dice it all up. But, getting under the skin of the individuals that you're looking to engage with is really important.

And it actually helps them to personalize the program. It also helps you to get to know them a little bit really, and to show them that you've gone the extra mile and if you find out.. I mean we had a classic story that there was a client, a prospective client, rather, that we were looking to onboard and the CMO changed and a new CMO came in and we kind of learned more about the new CMO 'cause we found out that they were a netball fan.

And so we wanted to engage with them and show them that we could do some, like kind of deep personalization. So we kind of managed to guess their netball shoe size and we sent them some lovely professional netball shoes and a lovely personalized note. And then she just calls us back straightaway and said, look, guys, I don't know how you did that. I don't know how you guessed that I was mad about netball, I don't know how you guessed my shoe size, but you did. I love it, come and show me how you can do that for my clients.

So sometimes, you know, by doing it that way, it then replicates itself and other people say, well, actually, that's really clever and I like the way you got to know me. You haven't really kind of been spying on me, but you just kind of got to know some things about me and it obviously helps the conversation, right?

Richa (HP) - Yeah, yeah, it secures that all important meeting and now you've created a dynamic where the person you're interested in meeting feels they owe you something. That's it, you've cracked the door open and now sales is on, right? Like, let's go present a value proposition. Let's gain the opportunity to study the account at a closer range, right? So yeah, that's a wonderful example. It's a very delightful example. If you can delight your customer that way, why not?

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I mean, we won't always get their shoe size right

Richa (HP) - I don't really know what netball is but I…

Declan (strategicabm) - Maybe we need to build some kind of online calculator to help us tick how a client would - but it was just, it worked and it worked really well.

But let's just talk... You've touched on a couple of things there, which kind of provokes the question actually, obviously ABM as a strategy has many different use cases, rather. Also, you know, client acquisition or customer expansion are two use cases. Where do you see it working best at HP? Is it more in the new logo acquisition or is it in the ‘land and expand’?

Richa (HP) - You know, I think it really just depends on what the business objectives are, right? So for a given business unit, they could... So, okay, in a nutshell, the answer is both. But I would say in general, for people who are listening in, I would say what you choose to do, has to be determined very much on your business objectives and the business climate you find them.

So, as an example at HP, we wanted to do customer acquisition for a variety of reasons. And our Account-based, not just that, not only did we want to acquire new accounts, but we also wanted to sell the different echelon of decision makers within these organizations, than what we had previously done. So that determined the nature of the game and the KPIs. So this was an acquisition play and a reputation and relationship play. And as a leading indicator that would eventually result in revenue.

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, and then if we talk about obviously ABM, you know, doesn't work without Sales. You know, without the sales aspect too, without the Sales team helping you, it's just good Marketing. So how'd you get ABM to work well there with your Sales teams? Have you got any tips you can share on about how you're getting your Sales colleagues, your Sales departments, et cetera, to engage with you and with your ABM program?

Richa (HP) - Yeah, I agree with you. I don't know why it is called Account-based Marketing. That M really throws people off and creates needless walls. It really should be Account-based Strategy. I know there's also people who talk about ABX or whatever, right?

I think you have to... One of the things that I did when ABM was rolled out with my team was really construct anatomy of a sale. And we were surprised to find out that HP is a highly matrixed organization. These are really large deals, technical, complex. But even so, we knew that going in, but, you know, they say 'data shall set you free'. We thought that what we call anatomy of a sale.

So from the point we get to, we become aware that a customer is interested in talking about an opportunity to the point of close and beyond actually, what does the process look like? And we were surprised to uncover the number of groups that are involved in putting a deal together and the role that they play, why do they exist?

I think that's very, very important to understand for two reasons. A) ABM is a lot of work. So what is it? More hands make work light or whatever that adage is. You can distribute the work. And second, by being inclusive in this process, everyone, every group wants to be as close as possible to revenue generation, just out of self preservation, right?

So by being inclusive, you can tap into their power, into their expertise, into their networks, into their experience. And when you don't do that, inadvertently you're creating internal friction because you're going to run into groups who will be like, oh why are you doing that? That's our job. I have six people in my team who are supposed to do this. Why are you stepping in? Now you're spending all your time, trying to mollify people, smooth down ruffled feathers.

So I think for those reasons, it's very, very important to understand who are the stakeholders around the deal? And I would say, not just Sales, also the other groups that support. Like there might be Industry Insights group, there might be Client Managers, there may be Application Engineers. They all bring a plethora of knowledge, hack into it.

And then when you're doing stakeholder mapping in an account. Now you know who should talk to the users, who should talk to the decision makers, who should talk to Finance, who should talk to Procurement and you can be more mindful in your approach versus just doing a blast, like all messages to everybody, kind of an approach.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah, excellent advice. Particularly working out, you know, because I think ABM has to touch so many parts of the organization. You know, I was going to say, it's really, it's an organization-wide pivot. It's actually not a marketing initiative.

And going back to your question around, why is it the M? One of my earlier guests on Let's talk ABM was Bev Burgess, who actually coined the term ABM back in 2003. And I asked her -

Richa (HP) - Is she with ITSMA? Bev Burgess?

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, she's been a Consultant with ITSMA since its inception really.

And Bev - she was explaining that she was having lunch or dinner with some marketing people from Accenture and Unisys almost 20 years ago now, 2003, so 18, 19 years ago. And they were talking to her about something that they'd come up with called 'Client-centric Marketing'. And that's kind of like, taking Key Account Marketing, Key Account Management and just having a whole team wrapped around the clients. And obviously, you know, the likes of Accenture and Unisys, just like HP, you're huge organizations that have such large clients.

So they had come up with this term Client-centric Marketing. So she kind of took the idea, took it away, built some process and methodology around it and that was where ABM, as we know it today was born.

So, and even Bev said to me, when I interviewed her, she said "You know what? In hindsight, you know, hindsight's a great thing, but in hindsight, I really shouldn't have called it Account-based Marketing because it's much, much bigger than marketing. But I called it Marketing because it came from Client-centric Marketing, from Accenture and Unisys".

So that's why she said...

Richa (HP) - Bev was being too hard. I said Bev has been too hard on herself. Look at how much employment she has created for so many Marketers.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I mean, it's been incredible really what's come about over time. But I think a lot of people, we talk about it. We could... You know, I don't get too hung up on the name. You actually said some people call it Engagement. Some people call it Account-based Experience, other people call it account-based Sales, account based-

Richa (HP) - I do like Account-based Experience quite a bit actually.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah. But I think it's an Account-based strategy as long as, you know, I think that it's, for me, ABM is the greatest unifier of Sales and Marketing. Because it stops, it unifies the two teams around accounts.

And accounts is the language of sales. So that's all Sales live and breathe you know, winning accounts, growing accounts, retaining accounts. So if Marketing can speak the same language of Sales, then you've got a real chance of making a go at this.

And if you think about speaking different languages, the uniqueness of speaking either English or any kind of unifying language, is to be able to communicate and to be able to be understood. And I think if you can speak the same language as your counterparts in Sales, who talk about accounts, then you've got a far greater chance of getting them on side.

And I think as you said to us before earlier, Richa, I think us Marketers have done ourselves a disservice by creating all of these acronyms and building these kinds of walls around us, right? MQLS and SQLs and all this stuff. And it also...

Richa (HP) - There's also UQL.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. And it's just like, you know, people saying, well, what the hell are you talking about? I've got accounts. And so I think Marketing over the course of the last few years has definitely become a lot more strategic. And I think a lot more aligned, with our own KPIs, being much more aligned to business KPIs.

And we can have website visits, we can have impressions, we can have all that, but we keep that in our back pocket for our Marketing meetings. But any other meeting they shouldn't be put on the PowerPoint, they should definitely be kept in the back pocket. And I think that's... I don't know if you kind of feel the same thing really.

Richa (HP) - Yeah. I think, I know I've certainly been guilty of it, is drowning people in a plethora of metrics erroneously thinking more is more. And we all know better that with data the power is not in the numbers, the power's in the storytelling and the insights around the numbers. And then when you show 20 metrics to an Executive, you've lost already, even before you opened your mouth, you've lost the game.

So I think it's very important to really consolidate it into North Star metrics that tell a comprehensive story and then consistently show movement against it, whether it's positive or negative. And then the takeaways and the learnings and the insights.

Because I think somewhere folks sitting outside of Marketing do have this, and I'm sure as Marketers, we've fed this, but they do have a little bit of suspicion on, you know, how real is this? And how do we know this is a good investment of funds? And we do, again, we do ourselves a disservice by drowning people in metrics.

So I've always found the 'Reputation, Relationship, and Revenue' is a very comprehensive way of telling the story. It scratches the itch on Revenue, because if you have metrics that don't include Revenue, they won't let you continue talking, right? They will not maintain that dialogue. The conversation ends there.

But then it also does a very good job of capturing the intangibles. It does a really good job of converting those intangibles into tangibles. And actually what, a conversation that I had just a few days ago when we were discussing state of the health of ABM within us HP colleagues. One of the things that I've observed is if you talk to a Sales Associate who's on the ground and is quarterbacking an account versus Executives who are determining, budgeting and direction and strategic focus and strategic imperatives, you will notice that the Rep on the ground, actually has greater appreciation for those things that Marketers struggle to measure.

They intuitively understand what Marketing is trying to do for them. Even if it cannot be measured, they understand the value of it. Whereas the higher up you go, they want all of that to be extracted into neat numbers that helps them quickly make a decision in a 30 minute meeting. Okay, well, should I maintain Marketing funding at the same level? Should I increase it or should I cut it and fund something else?

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, and that's because like, you know, if you think about most American companies, I remember when I was studying just a few years ago, we always say that, you know, I don't know it was 95% of the CEOs of American corporations were all accountants. When if we looked at the CEOs of German companies, they were all engineers.

So that's probably changed somewhat now with Silicon valley and everything. But if you think about how an accountant would look at a business as opposed to how an engineer would look at a business, that's why you kind of have the Mercedes of the world and the Porsche of the world, and then you have the large American consultancies.

So I think that's obviously changed enormously with the Teslas of the world and the Googles and the Apples clearly, but there is that obsession, not obsession, but there is the requirement for simplicity of numbers. Because numbers are easy to track, and I suppose numbers are all going back to the point around language. Numbers are universally understood.

And so there's more interpretation around as you said about other metrics, but a number in effect is a number, right? So if you're looking for that up, down, variation, percentage variation, return on investments, all those kinds of, you know, gearing ratio, we will know. I think you know...

Richa (HP) - You're scratching different itches at an Executive level trying to make a decision about budget and funding versus the Reps thinking very narrowly, what helps me close the deal fastest, right? Whereas an Executive is trying to decide funding, they're answering two different questions. But the answer is coming from...

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I just think if you take an example of our Director of Sales in our own agency, we work really, really closely. So the Marketing team of the agency, my job obviously is to promote the agency, to build the brand, to generate demand, to run ABM programs, to kind of generate more and more demand for our services.

And our head of Sales is, you know, he sees every single day the impact of what we do. And he sees the Marketing, we do the brand work, we do the awareness, the commit, the influence, the education works, we do with the market. And so I think as you said, the Sales professionals will immediately see the impact and appreciate what the Marketing team and the ABM team are doing for that.

But, so here's the question. 'Cause I remember when we were speaking earlier, chatting before we actually obviously began recording, that there was something that you said to me that kind of caught my attention. It was that, you said to me, are people really doing ABM? So many people claim to be doing ABM, but are they really doing it?

Could you expand on that?

Richa (HP) - Yeah, I think for me the litmus test for deciding what is truly ABM or not is very simple. Is your approach Account-led, or is it Pursuit-led? If it is Account-led, you will behave differently. You will do deep research on the account that will determine what kind of a customized value proposition you put together. You will understand the decision makers at the level of the person, and that will determine your customer journey, your activation modes, everything. Everything would be determined by where the account is at. Okay?

If you are having to do, if you're having to activate at scale, and by the way, I don't think you can just do ABM. You will not have enough dollars and bodies to do it. On the other hand, if you're going to scale, you can be very smart about scale. You can define your target, you can see if they're in-market, you can do very deep evaluation work on fit, and you can have a very insights-led data driven approach about the customer journey. How you engage them? How do you activate? All of that.

But that is not ABM. That's a very intelligent Demand Gen activation or sometimes referred to as Programmatic-ing. Okay? So for me, that is the difference. Is the more Account-centric you can be in your messaging, in how you activate the campaign, in your understanding of the decision makers, the more you go towards Account-based Marketing.

So these days Demand Gen sometimes is sort of touted as ABM. And that's why I have made that statement.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, well, it's interesting obviously, I think there are kind of different schools of thought now around what's the best kind of go to market strategy. Obviously, you know, Demand Gen, Brand, and ABM. You know, those kind of three pillars, seem to be the kind of the three pillars that many people would agree on that any organization should go to market with.

And I think Demand Gen is kind of creating that engine, that kind of Demand engine to drive and, you know, leads into your organization and into your Sales organization to be able to deal with them. Whereas as you said, ABM is much more Account-centric and you are 'laser focused'.

You know, I like to call ABM, 'Zero-waste Marketing' because you know who you are going for. And then it's your job to work out what to do, whether you're trying to win them or whether you're trying to grow with them or retain them, but you are 'laser focused' on the accounts. So it's all about the accounts. It's not about the market. And I think that's for me is one of the key differences.

But just going on from that, another thing you said to me, Richa, was you said to me that 'ABM is not a panacea for all your troubles'.

Richa (HP) - Yeah. And it goes back to that, right? I think as a Marketing leader, you will always, always like just as sure as the sun is going to rise in the east every day, every quarter, when you look at your budget and you look at your objectives, you will not have enough budget to do everything. Okay?

And as a Marketer, as a Marketing leader, you have to figure out how to support the business. I mean, at some point it will really get ridiculous and you cannot do it anymore, but you have, you say no at the outset thing, I don't have a budget to cover 80% of the asks. It's not a winning strategy. You have to find ways to provide coverage to your accompanies.

And if you think that you can just do ABM against all accounts, like I said, there's not enough budget, but more importantly, there's not enough manpower to do it. Even a One-to-few based approach where you might be going by demographic information like verticals or behavioral, creating clusters based on behavioral segmentation. From a manpower perspective, it gets very hard to scale.

Because what are you going to do? You're going to probably ask an ABM Manager to support one or two or such activations, maximum three, before which they start losing their ability to truly understand that cluster.

Now, if you have 20 such clusters, you can start doing the math on how large a team you need. You can't scale, right? So you always have to think of, okay, what are the accounts that truly I can support through ABM? Not so much in terms of manpower and budget, but do I have enough intelligence and knowledge about those accounts that it makes good sense for them to be in an ABM activation to get that Zero-based Marketing?

I mean, in order to do Zero-based Marketing, that means, you know them super, super well. And can you meet, I mean, if you just honestly ask yourself without fear of censure, how many accounts do you know that well? Okay.

So that will determine your ABM cluster. And then the remainder, you have to support those accounts. Saying, well, I don't know them well, or I don't have enough budget, and I'm not going to provide support to those accounts, is not tenable.

And quite frankly, you're inviting then all sorts of 'shadow marketing' to happen. Because the Account Executive on that account is not going to take no for an answer. What's going to happen is, they're going to do some horrible mangled marketing efforts of their own. Right? So that's something that I think as a Marketing leader, you have to realize that that's not an option.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, and I think just when you were talking to me there, you reminded me of a few of the conversations with other Let's talk ABM guests, and, you know, deciding when an account warrants an ABM approach and investment, when the account actually doesn't warrant ABM investment, it should go into kind of deal-based marketing approach. Or as you said, just into a Demand Gen program, or indeed just be left to the, let Sales teams decide what activities they should do, really. 'Cause as you said, you can't cover all of these accounts. It will create difficulty.

Let's just touch a little bit on the ABM journey. So, many people refer to ABM as a marathon, it's not a sprint, you got to to do a long investment, sales cycles are long, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months, three years, depending on what kind of solution you're selling into these kind of mid-market and enterprise accounts.

But with any journey, you know, I don't know about you, but you might take a wrong turn and you might go left, you might go right. You could get a flat tire or whatever. But on your journey, Richa, what's been your greatest learning from your time doing ABM?

Richa (HP) - I think a couple of lessons. First of all, it will take more effort than no matter, you know, you may think, okay, it will take these many units of work or labor. It will take more than that.

I think the other thing is also, this is both an opportunity as well as a blind spot. We think that organizations are structured seamlessly. This is where Marketing starts and ends. This is where Client Engagement starts and ends. This is where industry insights starts and ends. And in our mind, all those lines line up seamlessly. Okay? And there's no crack or gap between them.

That's rarely true. And these white spaces that exist between groups where Marketing may think they stop and where Client Engagement or Application Engineering may start, right? There is that white space. I think the opportunity for a Marketer, and again, this is so bandwidth intensive, I say this fully knowing what I'm asking myself and my team to do here. The best opportunities, learnings, and magic, quite frankly, the X factor, happens when you dip into those white spaces.

When we have a very rigid view of where Marketing ends, then that's where you get all situations where you throw stuff over the wall. And the other party may not be around to catch it at the right moment.

I remember an example where our 'tip of the sphere' for a value proposition was cybersecurity. We started engaging in account quite successfully on cybersecurity. We were talking to the CTO, the CSOs, they were attending our events. We could see them responding really well. And we were just like, and then they issued an RFP where we're high fiving in our team. Like, this one's ours. You know, we did it. And we tell the Sales Rep, we're keeping him abreast all along. And we tap him on the shoulder and we're like, "All yours, buddy. We did this for you.”

He was not willing to pick it up. And we were very, we were just like, what? And he's like, you know what? I'm fairly new. I’m not up on cybersecurity. I don't feel comfortable talking to this customer. We are like, okay. And he's like, "yeah, you're going to have to call, carry the ball forward for a bit and make sure that all the Cybersecurity experts are brought in and they're engaging in a one-on-one convo. I can't do it."

We were surprised. But to me that is an example that we thought that our job ended at a certain point. We hadn't taken into account this situation. And you know, this is just a manifestation of that white space that I talked about. There’s certainly other examples, but that's where the magic can occur. And that's why you have to make sure your Account-based Managers are time affluent.

Sometimes we get caught up in doing tactics because we know we can do them, but they may not be adding value. And you have to find the shortest, most efficient route to get to the customer. So you can open up bandwidth to do more of what is needed at that point versus doing more of what you know how to do.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I think this whole thing about agility and also flexibility and not, as you said, saying, hey, we've got this program, this is our direction of travel. You've got to be able to listen to the market, listen to your team and if your team is crying out for help, then you just literally, you've got to be able to say, hey okay, well, I'll stop what I'm doing for now, And I'll be able to help you specifically with this example, with this deal, with this RFP, and that's where a lot of ABM activity can really help really to kind of move the dial. And obviously influence, as you said, get an RFP in the first place, so indeed influence the outcome of an RFP, right?

Richa (HP) - Yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - Just a couple of final questions for you. What, in your opinion is the hardest part of doing ABM?

Richa (HP) - I think it depends on where your organization is. But speaking, generically, I think getting to know the account well, when you don't have relationships, like getting to know them at a very intimate level, when you don't have the relationships, takes remarkable levels of ingenuity. Okay? That's very hard.

I think creating the strategic alignment internally. I think sometimes selling internally is harder than selling externally to the customer. You know? So those two things are very resource intensive and especially strategic alignment can take an emotional toll. You know, you're like, why don't... You may be coming from a point where you might be like, this is so evident, it's self-evident, Why do I have to sell this? But for other groups, they may be at a different part in their journey of understanding.

So I think traditionally, those two are very resource intensive. But then I've also seen that with ABM, you know, on the one hand, we say, let's be data-driven and we push our teams to be more and more data-driven. But sometimes extracting data if the tech is not linked seamlessly together, can consume huge amounts of time because you may extract data for one activation and it looks a certain way, if you download it from one part of the tech, but this is another issue you're like, how could I get two different sets of numbers for the same activation?

And you're nodding your head, I'm sure you've been there yourself. So those are the things that I think really--

Declan (strategicabm) - I have unfortunately, yeah.

Richa (HP) - That weigh down... Weigh down Campaign Managers. Sorry, you were saying?

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, no, no I was just agreeing with you really Richa, to say that sometimes you spend half the time, you can sometimes spend half your time trying and pull the data routes rather than actually activating the data. And I think that's one of the good things that's happening in the kind of MarTech space at the moment is people working really hard on doing that work for you, so that you can actually spend more time strategizing as opposed to pulling data which is it's a thankless task, really.

And very last question for you. One of your colleagues - an ex-colleague of yours, gives you a call up and says, "Hey Richa, I've just been asked to launch an ABM program. I know you're an ABM genius." What's that one piece of advice you'd give them to get them started on their ABM journey?

Richa (HP) - I would sit down with them and make a checklist of all the things that have to be in place before they say they're doing ABM. And most of them are around strategic alignment and having a singular point of view on how to do ABM. On what does success look like? Having those handshakes in place.

You know, what happens is we get excited. We see something as a solution to our longstanding challenges, and then we just want to launch into it. And then building strategic alignment takes time. And we don't want to put that time or sometimes we cannot put the time because of the duress on us, right? Like show results.

And then we run and maybe at the 45% mile marker, we realize we can't run any further without strategic alignment, but by then people see what you're doing and you haven't built that alignment. And now they're very suspicious of what you're trying to do. So it takes a lot more work to build that alignment. It just becomes very botched up, really. You know, you get into all sorts of things that slow you down.

My recommendation to anyone who's about to embark on the ABM journey is put in that prep work. It's very tedious. It's the non-glamorous, non-sexy part of ABM. Put in that work before you put your name against leading an ABM initiative. That would be my advice. And I would say lots of good luck to you.

Declan (strategicabm) - Great advice, and a great way to finish the interview actually, Richa, so thanks so much for your time. Thanks for being so generous and all the best to you and your team there at HP and all the best for the upcoming season and Christmas and everything.

Richa (HP) - Thank you, Declan. What an honour. Thank you for talking to me today.