ABM Playbook

Building credibility with ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak with Kathryn Nimmo, ABM Marketing Manager at HP Inc, about how to build awareness and credibility with ABM.

Date published: Date modified: 2024-06-07 strategicabm 550 60

Kathryn Nimmo
ABM Marketing Manager | HP

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Listen on Google Podcasts
STR _ LTABM _ 64 - Kathryn Nimmo _ Headshot-1

Kathryn is an accomplished Marketing and Sales professional with extensive experience executing and delivering marketing and sales campaigns across multiple industries. Consistently recognized as a client-centric leader with expertise in One-to-one ABM, she delivers highly innovative projects that drive pipeline and revenue for HP’s Sales teams.

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 ABM is used for perception and brand awareness
  • How Subject Matter Experts are your secret weapon
  • Why Sales experience is pivotal to ABM
  • Why storytelling unlocks ABM accounts 
Read the full transcript

Watch other episodes

0% completed

ABM virtual
lunch & learn

Fast forward your team's ABM journey and accelerate your growth

Book my place now

Building credibility with ABM | Let's talk ABM | Kathryn Nimmo | HP

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Kathryn Nimmo, who's the ABM Marketing Manager at HP Inc. Kathryn, thanks so much for joining us today.

Kathryn Nimmo (HP) - No, thank you for having me, Declan. Really, really great to be able to speak to you and talk all things ABM.

Declan (strategicabm) - Smashing! Well, we're going to talk for the next half an hour or so about what Account-based Marketing is and what it is for HP. I've got a question actually for you, and I kind of led into it a little bit with the introduction. HP Inc. HP Incorporated. There are two HPs, and I always get a little bit confused between each one. Could you clarify: what's the difference and which one you work for?

Kathryn (HP) - Sure, and you're not the first person to ask that question. So I work for, obviously,  HP Inc, separate to HPE. HP Inc focus on consumer products like printers and PCs, whereas HPE is more your business IT solutions and they separated in 2015. 

And within HP Inc, I work for the Workforce Solutions Business Unit and we typically focus on productivity, workforce efficiencies, helping kind of companies design, which effectively deliver solutions, that help enhance employee experience, making it easier for kind of IT departments to deploy, manage, and secure their technology. So it's all around people, organizations, and helping the workforce be more productive.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, hopefully that's going to clear up things. So HPE, the E, I guess, stands for enterprise, is that right?

Kathryn (HP) - I believe so.

ABM Playbook

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. Okay, smashing. So let's just touch a little bit more on the HP Inc side of the business. Obviously you mentioned there with regards to some of the areas that you focus on, and I know people typically think, as you said, about computers and PCs and printers. And who hasn't had a HP printer over the years? 

But I know that when we were talking before, you were explaining some of the background about the kind of the world-class, rather, security, endpoint protection, et cetera. How big of a player are you in that area?

Kathryn (HP) - I would say, certainly from the couple of years that I've been here, not as big as we would like to be. It typically comes out in many conversations with Sales, with our clients, that actually they don't necessarily come to HP first and foremost to talk security. Which from my perspective, you know, certainly within the ABM field, that's something we're looking to change, and it gives me a great opportunity to be able to showcase some of those technologies.

But I would say first and foremost it’s getting that foot through the door with our clients. So quite often, they come to us asking for something and then we can go in talking about some of these other great security products that we can offer. You know, we have lots of great Subject Matter Experts in the security field. So we're doing a lot more. I would say we're trying to raise visibility of our, kind of, like you say, world-class security kind of solutions. We have, you know, multiple kind of events where we're really trying to kind of highlight our security products and actually how great they are for our clients. But yeah, it's progress, we're getting there.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, I think to be fair, Kathryn, I think most companies are always in that kind of flux of always wanting to be better known, better positioned with their customers and with the market. And I think we'll talk about it a little bit more, I think, in this conversation. But clearly, ABM can help with that conversation and can help with that kind of cross-sell, upsell and repositioning as well, which is clearly part of it, right?

So when we were talking before in preparation for this interview, one of the things that kind of came out in that kind of conversation was, you know, your background at IBM and the fact that you were not actually in Marketing, but you were actually in Sales. And, you know, I also come from a Sales background as well before moving into Marketing. 

So a lot of the kind of, well, actually quite a few of the people I've interviewed on this show and also people I speak to in the Account-based Marketing world have that kind of commercial Sales background. How do you think that actually helps you be a good and effective ABM app?

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, I think for me, it's bringing that kind of understanding of how Sales think. And I think it helps set up that alignment between Sales and Marketing, because I think, traditionally, you know, you go to the Sales teams and they just go, oh, here's another Marketer. They're just going to talk to me about Marketing things like assets, you know, how we can order the next notebooks for our next client event, that kind of thing. And it's, you know, as you know, with ABM, it's so much more than that. It's so much deeper. 

And I think for me, because I had 20 odd years working as a Sales Exec across the different industries, I can come to those sales conversations now. And especially being fairly new into HP, I don't perhaps have that credibility that I've built up that I had previously at IBM. 

So I'm having to come in fairly new, not really having that deep relationship with our Sales department, and having new conversations with the Sales teams to kind of say, I get where you're coming from. I totally understand your challenges. I understand what your customer’s thinking, feeling, it’s that empathetic kind of association, I guess. I know that they've got targets. I know they've got pressures. 

So when I'm having those conversations with them, first and foremost, they're probably like, this is really lovely to have a really nice chat with you, but actually how can you help me right now to meet my sales targets? Because that's the only thing that matters to me. That's what I'm being paid on. 

So from our perspective, it's very difficult because we know ABM takes time. It can be a matter of months to a year to run a successful campaign. Whereas Sales are like, okay, how are you going to help me make that number right now? Because if you can't help me make that number right now, then I don't have the time to commit to talk to you.

And I would say secondly, it's the kind of customer behaviors and their needs. You know, having spoken with various clients before, like C-level, talking to CISOs before, just reaching out to them on LinkedIn and kind of having that understanding. I think I have a kind of sympathetic approach. 

So, you know, we're not in it for product selling at all. Here, it’s everything we do within ABM is outcome based. So it's understanding how can our solutions and products fit those challenges and needs of our clients? It doesn't matter whether they're CISO, whether they're in digital transformation, whether they're in AI, you know. How can actually our products and solutions have an impact for them? 

And actually humanizing everything as well. I like to think, coming from a Sales background, yes, I know I've got those targets and those pressures to make, but I think I have a more human empathy when it comes to having conversations with Sales. I can talk to them one-to-one. I don't give them the sales pitch. I just say, OK, how can I be your friend? How can I help you? What can I do to make your life easier right now? And kind of work with them that way. 

So I think straight away, you get that alignment. You know, Sales often will come to me and go, actually, you can help me out here. And I think just trying to maybe offer more than actually we should. So I'm always there trying to kind of maybe help them out in more ways than just from an ABM perspective. It's actually how can I go that one step further? And that just helps create that relationship, I think. So, yeah, I think all of that really helps.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I mean, salespeople can be a tough audience. 

Kathryn (HP) - Yes, for sure.

Declan (strategicabm) - And what you said at the beginning there, you said when salespeople get somebody from Marketing coming in and standing in front of them, they normally say, oh God, not another bloody marketing presentation.

Kathryn (HP) - All the time. And the amount of calls I get cancelled because they just don't have time. But I get it, you know, it's those pressures, isn't it? Until you can get into a foot through the door and actually explain to them what you can do for them, it's not till then that they'll sit up and take notice. So yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - Correct. Correct. And I think, you know, it goes back to that kind of symbiotic, you know, relationship really, and how the two teams can work together for their own mutual benefit. And I think that's the key thing that Sales... You know, a lot of Let's talk ABM guests I've spoken to, once they see the impact, once they see what ABM can do, they will want more. And then you have a different problem. You don't have a problem with them ignoring you. You have a problem with them, of them wanting more. And yeah.

Kathryn (HP) - Too much, I know. Yeah, I find that a lot actually. Once I've had that initial first conversation and I've had an hour of their time, it's almost like a light bulb clicks with them and they're like, oh wow, I didn't actually realize that ABM means all of this of actually how much you can do it. 

Because I find typically with our Sales folk, for example, they don't have time. They don't have time to go onto LinkedIn and do customer research. They don't have time to search for decision-makers and stakeholders. And I would say primarily that it's such a simple thing, but it's such a big thing for them. 

And that's probably the biggest question they ask me, is how can you help me engage with new clients? How can you help me reach new decision-makers? Because I'm not having those quality, impactful, meaningful conversations that I should be having. I just have day-to-day calls with our kind of, usual like Supplier Relationship Managers, all of those kind of business calls that they would have, but nothing, no calls that they would like to do more of. You know, the more interesting calls, the more calls that can provide the innovation. So where they can actually talk one-to-one and go, okay, if you had X, Y, Z, what would that look like? 

And I see myself as I'm helping give them that time back. So it's like, I can do that for you. And they love that. And then once they realize that, oh, actually you're not just here to create another marketing asset or another document, and yes we do that as well, as you know, but it's those additional kind of value adds, isn't it, that we do. 

And I think once they realize what you can do for them, like you say, the door opens up and then it's that opposite effect and it's, you know, having the resources to be able to then have that full coverage which is the challenge.


Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah. It's a good problem to have, but clearly a lot of companies who are doing ABM very well and who've got that kind of alignment are facing that now and how do they actually scale their ABM programs? And perhaps we might touch on that actually a little bit later. 

So talking about your program, let's dig a little bit more into the program there at HP. I'm not sure whether things have changed a little bit since we last spoke, but when we spoke before, rather, you were explaining that your program was focused on existing customers, as opposed to new logo acquisition and that you were targeting a relatively small group of accounts. I think it was around 25 you mentioned at the time. Is that still the case? Is it around 25 accounts? Has that changed slightly?

Kathryn (HP) - It is. It's still around 25, 26 accounts. They are all enterprise accounts still. However, we've been having conversations about whether we should pursue like acquisition accounts because that seems to be, certainly from when we talk to our Sales teams, that's where you've got more growth, more opportunity, they're kind of new accounts, so you don't have that relationship. So it kind of makes sense to kind of play into that area. So that might be something we consider this year, next year.

But certainly for 2024, we're still going after those kind of large enterprise accounts. Accounts where we typically have fairly good relationships already, that there's no sensitivities or challenges within those accounts, as well. So we would typically have a good relationship with the client. Anywhere where we see that there's opportunity for services growth, because ultimately that's what we're looking to achieve. 

So, they are typically your large enterprise accounts where we've got good relationships and the opportunity, like you said previously, to upsell. So if for example, they're a print customer, we would go in and look to see where we can potentially sell for other services as well.

Declan (strategicabm) - I know, Kathryn, that you mentioned before that you had a kind of a comprehensive scoring process that you went through. Because that's a big thing for a lot of companies, is how do they decide which accounts to go after? How do they decide which accounts go into an ABM motion? How do they prioritize? Because obviously, normally, there's too many accounts, and as you said before, not enough resources. 

So what kind of qualification process do you use and prioritization process do you use to decide, well, these are the accounts that we can manage that group?

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, we kind of follow different methods, if you like. We do have like a comprehensive scoring system for each of those accounts. And we have like qualifying calls. 

So if, for example, I'm kind of talking to a new Account Manager for the first time, my first kind of thing that I would do is really having that qualification call. And within that call, I'd look at things like, okay, what's the complexity of the account? Are there any sensitivities that we should be aware of? Are they a current HP customer? Are they kind of buying direct with us? What's their propensity to buy? What are they currently purchasing? 

Other things, like, I would say is really important are the Account team cooperation, like the kind of collaboration with the Account team, that alignment. Because something I kind of discovered going through probably after a year is that, you can start off with an account that in all respects ticks the boxes. You know that they're a great customer, they're buying from us, they've got a great relationship. 

But actually, if you've got an Account team who are looking after that customer and they're not aware of ABM, they don't understand what you're trying to achieve, they're not maybe committed to the program, then you're stuck already from day one, really. And I think it's really important to have that advocate behind you. 

So literally all my accounts this year, probably my priority is who's the Account Manager? What are the Sales team like? Who's the kind of Director on that particular industry patch? Are they bought into ABM? Do they understand the program? Do they understand what our objectives and goals are and what we're trying to achieve? Do they understand that actually it's not a short-term fix? It's not something that happens overnight and then you forget about it, move on. It can be a long process, a long kind of nurturing process. 

So I really need to have those people on board supporting me. I can't have, you know, the Sales teams canceling calls when I set them up or trying to kind of block me in any way. So that's probably one of my biggest factors. 

And of course, we look at things like the landscape of the account. You know, the current number of stakeholders in the account, you know, who the Sales team are talking to. Do they have X number of contacts that they regularly speak to? If not, is that something we should look at? And also contracts. You know, what contracts they've got in place, any upcoming RFPs and things like that. 

So there's a whole lot of things we look at. We do that initial qualification call, we kind of give them a scoring and then go from there really and then just assess which accounts we would kind of work with. And I think some of it comes from our kind of Directors as well. So we get input from Sales and our Director level to say, we feel that these are the accounts that we should be going after, actually take those accounts off. 

So it's a constant review process, constantly changing. Nothing's really set in stone with our program. We're very flexible. So it is a case of, actually, if that account's not working, we'll move that one and bring another one in. 

And just typically, with conversations, like I speak to probably salespeople every single day, a couple of calls a day. And quite often they come to me saying, can we not include this account as part of the program? Because I can see there is lots of potential there. And I could really do with your help in helping drive the relationship and nurture the account engagement. So then I would look at that and go, actually, there's no reason why we can't. Let's try that. 

Because if it means we're not making any progress in one account, and we don't have that traction, let's move that one out and bring in an account where we know we're going to be successful. So it's quite a fluid program that we run. And the qualification is kind of we have it there, but it's not set in stone, as such.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, I think there's a couple of points there, which are quite interesting. One is the fact that you mentioned that one of the criteria you use is the openness of the Account Directors that you're liaising with for them to be actually responsive, engaged with your program, because, clearly, if you have got people that who are your main interlocutor with the customer, if they're not engaged with you, then you're going to have an uphill battle. And that's an interesting selection criteria, because that's been mentioned to me by several other Let's talk ABM guests. 

And I think the second thing you also mentioned there, is the fact that, you know, you've got to be flexible. And also what I loved is something that we do as well at the Agency. We have this kind of concept of promotion and demotion. So promoting accounts and demoting accounts based on engagement or based on macro or events that are happening. But it's interesting to hear that you also promote and demote as well.

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, and it's something I've learned really over the years. Because if I go right back to my Sales career, when I first started out, when I was so much younger, I would persevere and persevere and would not be beaten by an account. And no matter what, I would try my hardest to make that work and I just wouldn't let it beat me. 

But now I think I've learned it's like, it's okay if an account isn't working here. It's okay if, actually, the Sales team aren't brought on board. To me, that just means it's not the right time. It's maybe not the right customer. And actually, there are plenty of others. 

So, I think I've learned not to take things like that personally. And it's very hard as an ABMer, I think, especially when you're kind of leading with a program, you feel responsible for your actions, your successes, the calls you have. So I think it's only natural, isn't it, to kind of want successes and to want to make those accounts work. 

And I think sometimes we place too much emphasis and go, no, actually we are going to make this work and we are going to drive some successes here, rather than going, no I can make this work in other accounts. So I'm better now at doing that. 

And it's like, my resource and my time and my energies I can spend elsewhere where I know I'm going to get those outcomes and those successes. Because, ultimately, that's what I have to show evidence for, isn't it? At the end of the day, you know, with the ABM program, we're investing all the kind of our resources and budget, so we've got to be able to show that return. So, yeah, I try not to take things too personally now. At the end of the day, it's a program. Yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - No, it's a great point. As I said before, I used to run Sales teams and I'd have Sales Managers who were obsessed with one customer or one potential customer and they didn't want to let go. And they said, “Don’t worry, they're going to convert, they're going to convert, they're going to buy”. And I probably had a better ‘nose’ than they did. And I could smell that it wasn't going to work or it wasn't worth the effort. 

And I think, you know, you have a hypothesis with every single account, or be they a customer or be they a prospect, you've got a hypothesis of what's going to happen and why you want to include them in your ABM program. But you've got to let the thing go live and you've got to see what happens once it comes out of the laboratory and it's actually in the environment. 

And it may well be that, as you said, they don't engage, they don't respond, or even as you said, the Account Director doesn't actually help as part of the process either. And then that's okay. And as you said, there are more fish in the sea, there are more customers, more accounts. 

And having that kind of, as you said, having that kind of fluid, let's promote this account into the motion. Let's demote this account. That's a very intelligent way of doing things, I think. And I think, I don't hear it enough in the market really. And I think it's really, it's great to see you doing that.

New call-to-action

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah. And I think, as well, what happens is a natural thing that, if you do that and follow that particular process where you are having successes, it then becomes a bit of a domino effect. So I'm finding that, if I work with particular Sales Managers that are on board, that are committed, that really get what we're about, and we start having those regular conversations, it's actually not long before they're talking to their peers about it. And before you know it, everyone's talking about you and what you're doing, and they want a piece of that as well. 

So actually, it kind of takes its natural course anyway. And when you start having these, what I call, ‘lighthouse accounts’ where your visibility is being raised about the program and the successes, they will naturally come to you anyway at some stage when the time is right, and maybe when they're kind of open to working with you. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. So let's just dig a little bit more into that program of those 25, 26 accounts. Is it a One-to-one motion that you're running into those 25, 26? Or is it a One-to-few, or have you got to mix both?

Kathryn (HP) - Okay, so it is kind of One-to-one. It's meant to be One-to-one, but it's obviously just myself running the program. We're actually a very small team. So I know traditionally ABM is your One-to-many. So we are moving, we kind of did that in the past, but we've moved away from that traditional kind of Demand Gen ABM approach, and now having just the 25, 26 accounts.

The aim really with this program is that it's kind of One-to-few. So how I see it running is we have very deep, very meaningful conversations and engagements with a select few accounts. So I would say, at the moment, out of my 26 accounts, I'm probably engaged quite deeply and having good conversations with Sales on a regular basis with probably about five of those. 

And that's more than enough for one person to deal with, I find, because for me, ABM is that deep personalization. It's not how much kind of nurture activity you can do, how much lead generation you can do. I love having conversations with Sales. I love being an extended part of their team and actually understanding what conversations they're having with their client, where they're having their issues and challenges, and how I can help that and how ABM can fit into that. 

And then in the background, we might do some nurture activity to help raise our brand, our kind of profile a bit. Like, going back to the question earlier about, you know, customers don't really know about HP in the security space. A lot of what I try to do is what I call ‘Always-on Activation’. So where I'm not working very deeply on those, say five accounts, or I haven't kicked off conversations with Sales to do that, I'm constantly thinking, okay, how can I keep that momentum going from a kind of One-to-few perspective on those remaining accounts, just to keep that HP brand going, the perception. 

So I'm always looking at, actually, what can I do to those other accounts where I'm not having that kind of deeper conversation? At some point I will get round to having those, or my team will get round to having those conversations to do that deep One-to-one engagement. But effectively, our kind of sole purpose is eventually to be pure One-to-one ABM. Yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, look, it's a journey. If you think about the origins of ABM, which was like 21, 22 years ago now, that started white glove One-to-one with the likes of Accenture and Unisys. And obviously, over time, it migrated and evolved to One-to-few. And then obviously, with technology, to One-to-many. And many people kind of see One-to-many as being kind of the go-to for ABM. And actually, the sweet spot for ABM is much more in the One-to-few or One-to-one. 

Just two questions actually related to that. I've just made a note here, ‘Always-on Activation’. I love that term. So when you said that you're not engaging with them because you're not working with Sales yet, because you haven't got the resources yet to get there, but you want to make sure that you're in there, you're front of mind for those customers, can you give us a sample, an idea rather, of what kind of activation you might do to kind of stay front of mind while you're not doing the more, kind of, white glove?

Let's talk ABM

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, so it's really about, what can we do to change people's perception of HP as a hardware vendor? So looking at those areas where perhaps they're not coming to us first and foremost, like security, some of our collaboration services as well. 

So what we try to do is have a constant thought leadership awareness program going out to those accounts, and targeting select decision-makers and personas. So using some of our agency partners, we can leverage some of their platforms, some of their data, where we know that they've got the right contacts, certainly at C-level. 

Back of last year we did a really lovely nurture activity targeting those specific accounts, those C-level clients within those accounts, like the CISO, etc. Some of our, you know, other targeted decision-makers. And we created a really lovely series of good quality thought leadership content. 

Not just your average run of the mill, here's a white paper, here's an ebook, that people see time and time again. But we actually worked with some really great HPE experts within their field. So people who are really known for their security, quantum engineers, people within the services division, who really understand the challenges around hybrid working for our organizations. 

And the idea being that we interviewed them, got some really great inputs and that then produced the series of thought leadership that went out onto the CIO platform. And that just means that we are at the forefront of people's minds, we can start raising our visibility, we can promote ourselves as experts in that space where perhaps we're not seen. 

And by creating thought leadership material rather than product promotion, I think people will see us as more credible because they're actually like, oh, HP are talking about this. They've got that firsthand experience. They've got their experts who are very knowledgeable talking about how this can help us. 

So we did a lot of that last year. And this year we're doing more like that with some webcasting as well. And that's something I'm really quite passionate about doing is just keeping that brand perception going to try and elevate our profile in the various kind of spaces really. 

Because people are looking, you know, and we actually had really good engagement rates there. We had people looking at our content, engaging with that. And from that as well, what's really lovely is it gives me an opportunity to take that information and go talk to the Sales team. 

So where the Sales team perhaps aren't having conversations with people around security matters, I can take that data and go to them and say, look, we can see that people are engaging with our security thought leadership. Are you having these conversations with them? If so, who with? If not, let's see where we can help you. Do you have any contacts? Because, actually, we can show you the contacts that are engaging with this. And then we can start doing that whole ABM journey. 

If there's events that are happening that we are present at or we're running, and we know that a particular client's engaging with a piece of security content, how great is it to be able to say to your Sales team, you know, we know that your client's looking at this, there's an event coming up, let's get them to that event and let's engage with them and start having those conversations. 

And that's kind of the way that we should be going to talk about our brand in kind of those areas around security, et cetera. And that's the only way I think that perceptions are really going to change there.

Declan (strategicabm) - No, it's a fantastic example. I think it touches on something I was going to actually ask you about the kind of whole peer-to-peer approach. But I think you actually answered it in terms of engaging with the internal SMEs, Subject Matter Experts, in your business on security, on quantum, on engineering, etc. And shining a light on those experts and for them to be the voice of HP and for you then just to get that voice through thought leadership out into the market. I think that's a very, very clever way of doing things really. And we definitely see that a lot that that peer-to-peer approach can be really helpful in this. 

You know, you guys obviously, you know, you've been around for a long time, but you know, the technology world is getting more and more technological and more and more complicated. And I think the buyers are struggling an awful lot to know what to do, what to buy, how to integrate it, blah, blah. 

And I think they're looking, you know, there was some great research from Gartner about this and it was talking about the fact that the Sales role has changed and it's changed towards helping customers and prospects to kind of make sense of the choices. 

The prospects and your customers can educate themselves on the products more or less now because of all the content that exists out there. But what they can't necessarily do is make sense of the choices. And I think what you're doing in that thought leadership and how you're talking about sales is helping them to make sense of what's actually happening out there. So I think that's a really great example of ABM in action, really.

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, absolutely. 

Declan (strategicabm) - So let's, sorry, Kathryn. Go ahead, sorry.

Kathryn (HP) - Sorry, I was just going to say on that, I think, you know, you hit the nail on the head there. But actually, our clients don't know what they want, which is, you know, it's our job to do that. And like you say, getting our thought leadership material out there, if we can get them in through the door at one of our, kind of, white glove type events where we can showcase HP's technology, then that will help as well.

Declan (strategicabm) - And I think, just related to that, there was something you said to me before when we were chatting, about telling stories, not pitching. And I think, does that relate back to what you've just explained in terms of some of the things that you create or is there another element to that about telling stories?

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, I would say everything I do, certainly both internally and externally, is around telling stories. So it's real-life situations that resonate with our clients and our Sales team. You know, they like to hear, I think, certainly when I'm talking about ABM to our Sales teams, it's like, okay, how can what you're doing help our clients? 

So it's painting that picture in a very simplified way that's going to help the Sales team drive their targets and actually drive conversations forward. So everything I do is, I try to represent in a visual way. 

So if we've got like an internal case study, for example, which we have a few of, I would then use that when I'm talking to new Sales teams about new accounts to kind of use that as a, this is a reference and show them actually in a very visual way how we started, what the kind of end goal was. And that's actually how we got there. And I think if they can see that from a visual perspective, it makes it so much easier to explain what we're trying to achieve. 

And it's the same with customers. I think trying to get away from the acronyms, the corporate language. I think we're all probably guilty of that. And sometimes we just overcomplicate things. So I think by telling stories, humanizing everything, we just make it so much easier for people to understand what we're trying to achieve and they're more likely to be bought into what we're doing.

ABM Lunch and Learn

Declan (strategicabm) - 100%. So a couple of more technical questions for you now. Measurement. How do you go about measuring the ABM efforts that you do there? And is there anything you can share with us in terms of the results to date of what you're doing there?

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah. So as you all know, ABM KPI measurements are always quite difficult, aren't they? Sometimes, I think it's trying to find those tangible results, isn't it, from what you're delivering? So yes, we base our program around the Relationship, Reputation and Revenue scorecard, as well. 

For me, like the Relationship piece is really quite easy because we use things like Sales feedback. Like, so after we've run a campaign with them, or we've done some activity, it really is a case of how do we work together? How was the collaboration between us? How did you find our engagement? And I think that that's quite an easy kind of win, isn't it? 

Because it's like, ultimately, you're driving that engagement with the Sales, they can't argue that you're aligned with them. And actually, they can see the benefits that came as a result of the work that you've done. So I think we try to get lots of feedback from Sales for all of the activities that we do. 

And then that's great, because again, it's like I said to you before, it acts like a domino effect. Other colleagues hear about that. They hear how great the ABM journey's been for them. So they're more likely to want to work with you. 

In terms of other KPIs for us, I mean, we have an awful lot of internal calls. And as you know, with any ABM program, it starts off where you're having planning meetings, sessions with the Sales team to explain about what you're trying to achieve to get their buy-in. And you could probably have 50, 60 internal calls before actually you're delivering anything. 

So for me, a big part of our KPIs is I'm spending a lot of my time having internal calls, doing internal planning. But I need to be able to evidence that because that's a lot of my time and resource. And I would say, traditionally, that doesn't get noticed by kind of the Leadership team. It doesn't get noticed sometimes by Sales and actually it's a really big thing. So I try to measure the amount of engagement I'm having from an internal perspective with our Sales teams because, you know, it's important because without those calls, without me driving those conversations, we wouldn't have that kind of outcome really. 

And I would say in terms of the kind of harder KPIs, yes, we've got the Revenue side of things. So ultimately, we have to show that from what we're investing, we're getting that return on investment as well. So we look at how much services growth we've achieved through a particular campaign, what percentage of that is as a result of the work that we've carried out. 

You have your typical social media KPIs as well. So everything we're doing around the ‘Always-on Activation’ with our thought leadership material. We would look at things like the engagement rates, the benchmark for that, is it above average, etc? Or is it performing kind of under? How many downloads we would get. 

And we do do some lead generation on some of those thought leadership pieces as well. Because again, that lead generation aspect, and we're quite particular about, okay, getting actual good quality contacts on that lead generation piece. Not just average IT directors, that we want meaningful contacts that actually I can pass on to the Sales team for them to go and talk to. So we measure those. Measure things like, yeah, page visits, etc. 

And also, I would say from a kind of Relationship piece, the number of contacts are important. So with a particular account, if we start at A and we're now at C or D and that's taken like six months to get to, from when we started at A, how many more contacts have we made for the Sales team? How many more people are they speaking to? How many more decision-makers? 

But also out of that, what's the quality of those decision-makers? So are we looking at the Executive decision-makers like C -suite? So have we actually opened the door for maybe five to 10 new C-level contacts for them to go and talk to?

Declan (strategicabm) - And in terms of results, is there anything without giving any secrets away? Is there anything you can share there in terms of the impact you've seen on your customers?

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, so back of last year, we had a really great kind of campaign within one of our financial market’s clients. It ran for about a year. It was a really long activation, but a very important one, and it had so much impact. 

So it started off with the Account team having probably a minimal number of contacts. You know, your typical day-to-day business contacts, Business IT Directors that speak to your Supplier Relationship Managers, et cetera. By the end of it, I think we had, when we ran the event, we had something like 50 or 60 new contacts for the Account team that we didn't have previously, and that was from a mix across the business. 

In terms of impact, it absolutely opened the customer's eyes to what HP could do for them. There is absolutely no shadow of doubt about that. In terms of the contract value, et cetera, it was a bit of a game changer really. 

And also from just the overall impact of it, I would say, without giving out too much away, I think it meant we had a real-life story to talk about where we had tangible evidence from the benefits of what we delivered. 

And it was a showcase event and we ran an event like an open day which ended up showcasing some of our technology. And yeah, it was very, very successful and those are the kind of activations that we need to do more of. So I'm looking at, and I refer to them as your kind of ‘meaningful, magical moment’. 

So ABM for me is, yes, you've got what I call your standard ABM campaigns where you might be helping the Sales team with like RFP input. You might be providing a really lovely snazzy document that they can give to a client for a meeting. But actually for me, it's like, where can we really be creative? Where can we do something that's totally different that makes the customer go ‘wow!’ And that's kind of what this activation was last year. It was a real ‘wow’ moment that without a doubt had a huge impact. And that's something we're trying to drive more of this year. And actually, we've got a couple of projects on the go that I think will be very similar to that. So yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - Couple of points to touch on there really, that's really fascinating. One obviously, when you talk about ‘wow’ moments, that made me think about an ex-colleague of yours, Andrew Watkins, who's at IBM who talks about the ‘wow’ moments that they do at IBM. So it's great to see that kind of. And I think that really resonates with the market. 

Secondly, you were talking about, I think you said ‘magical moments’. Is that what you said? Meaningful, magical moments. Like the three, have the three R's. This is the three M's. 

Kathryn (HP) - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - I love that. So that just leads me to a question I'd like to ask you actually, which I think you said to me before, that you believe that ABM is not just good marketing. So based on what you've just said, what is ABM for you? If you had to kind of summarize it in a very short sentence, how would you summarize that?

Kathryn (HP) - Oh, that's a hard one, isn't it? I would say ABM to me, is you're being a jack of all trades. I think when I first started the ABM journey, you realize very quickly that you have multiple jobs to do within the ABM program. You are a Content Writer, you're an Editor, you're a Publisher, you are sometimes a Graphic Designer. You have to be an Events Manager, a Project Manager. You need to have that Sales expertise and the list goes on. So I think it's being able to bring all of those skills into a process. 

And it's for me, ABM is those deep, meaningful conversations that you have with Sales. It's not your traditional Demand Gen marketing. It's not, oh, here's a thousand accounts. Let's go and create those leads.

For me, I'm so passionate. I love talking to Sales. I love talking to clients where actually, you know you've made a real noticeable difference, and not necessarily just because we're all in it for sales. We're all in here to drive revenue. 

But I love having those personal moments with customers where, one-to-one, you're talking to them to really understand them and to be able to guide them on a journey where you become their strategic partner of choice. You're not just another hardware vendor. You're not just a number at say HP. They come to you because you've got that credibility, you've got that can-do attitude. You've got that you can help them to get to the next level of where they need to be at. 

So for me, it's all about the long-term relationships. And, you know, it's something that could take six months. In the case of last year, it was about a year or so for an activation. Some projects can take a couple of months, but it's for the longer term gain, I guess. 

And I would say being creative, being challenging, and challenge the status quo. Because every time I work with a new account, I'm like, OK, how can I do something different here? What can we do to actually really make a big impact to this client? And it could even be things like, I think it's really important to understand the customer's language, their culture, their way of thinking, and really get under the skin of that customer. So you really do have that knowledge about them, because you can't then do anything unless you have that. 

Because I think when you're going to run a campaign with the Sales team for that customer, and you're helping drive that opportunity, you could then understand, okay, this customer is really quite keen about sustainability. They're not going to work for someone who doesn't have sustainability or ESG goals on the agenda. So actually, how can we then use that and bring that into our narrative when we're talking to that customer or we're trying to do something that will make them sit up and take notice of us? 

And I think certainly from experience and from this big activation that we did last year, the one big noticeable thing was actually the small things that made a huge difference. Like, oh, HP actually really take note of how we're affecting environmental impact and things like that. 

And it's those, what I call little things, that actually are a really big thing to customers. Taking the time to understand them, taking the time to know what makes them tick. And then when you're having a conversation with them, they feel that you actually really know them. You're not just another supplier. You're not just another organization coming to them to sell a product. You actually care about what they're trying to achieve. 

And then you become their partner. And I think that's the ultimate goal for me. And having that customer loyalty, having someone that you can work with and you keep that relationship going. 

For me, ABM isn't you do one thing and then you stop and then you move on to the next customer. It's a case of you do one thing well. It's great, you build that relationship up and then hopefully that customer will stay with you, you’ll retain them, and they're likely to come back to you. 

Because I do think, you build up that trust, you build up that relationship and the credibility. And it's like, if you've done that once and you've held their hand and you've guided them on that journey, they're more likely then to come to you for product recommendations and for help with other things. And that's where you will become successful as an organization, I believe.

Declan (strategicabm) - No, it's great points. And I think it echoes a lot of what other people who are working at ABM are finding as well. 

Just some very rapid fire questions to finish off with. So I'm going to ask you four questions and you're going to fire back to me with your quickest, sharpest answer. What has been, Kathryn, your greatest learning from doing ABM?

ABM readiness workshop

Kathryn (HP) - Oh, my greatest learning would be do one account really well, be successful in that account and then get that internal advocate within Sales that can help drive your mission and do your work for you effectively. So I think, yeah, do one account really well and then you don't have that battle with Sales. Yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - What do you think is the hardest part of ABM?

Kathryn (HP) - Oh, the hardest part is without doubt, getting buy in, getting commitment, that Marketing-Sales alignment, I think it's always going to be a challenge. And I think we all say that. Yeah, that's probably the hardest thing. 

And resources to cover, do the coverage. You know, I would love to be deep and go wide with a lot of our accounts, but sometimes you just don't have the kind of time or resources to do that. So, yeah, I'd like to be successful in all of our accounts, but, yeah, it's having the time, isn't it?

Declan (strategicabm) - Good points, good points. The greatest misconception about ABM?

Kathryn (HP) - Oh, the greatest misconception would be you're just doing Demand Generation marketing. It's just, you're just doing the One-to-many. So it's really trying to change that perception with Sales to say, no, this is about deep personalization, deep engagement. 

I try to sell myself as being an extended part of the Sales team. I don't want to be seen as just another Marketer. I am very much wanting to be an integrated person so that they see me as a valued member of their team that they can come to to help drive their conversations and drive their opportunities along. So, yeah.

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, and now the last question. I tend to ask this to most people as a last question to most guests. Right, as a last question, which, you know you've got to imagine it's a Friday evening, you've had a really, really tough week, and you're thinking, I want to shut this laptop down, I want to go for a walk with the dog, or I want to open up a glass of Chablis, Sancerre, whichever your favorite tipple is. 

And suddenly, you get a ring on your mobile, and it's an old colleague, and the colleague says, “Hey, Kathryn! You won't believe it, but I've got to prepare a presentation for Monday morning to our Leadership team about launching an ABM strategy.” And they say to you, “What's that one thing I've got to definitely include in my presentation?” So what would you say to them is the one thing to make sure that they include?

Kathryn (HP) - One thing I would say is definitely going to be account selection for sure. First and foremost, be selective about your accounts. As I said previously, get somebody on board initially within the Sales team who understands your program, what you're trying to achieve, who will act as your support mechanism really. Because I think they will, as I say, they will do the work for you. So I think, yeah, having that account prioritization will help set them off as a good start. Anything else? No, I think first and foremost that. 

Declan (strategicabm) - That's fine. One thing. One thing. Account selection and making sure you have somebody aligned within Sales who can actually support you on those accounts. Smashing! 

Well, I think you've earned that walk with the dog or that long or that glass of chilled white wine. Kathryn, thank you so much for sharing your ABM journey with us today. And I wish you and the team there at HP Inc. every success for the future. Thank you very much.

Kathryn (HP) - No worries. Thank you so much and really lovely to talk to you. Thank you, Declan.