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Customer Lifecycle ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak with Marcelo Fernandes, Global Head of Adoption & ABM, Vice-President at SAP, about Customer Lifecycle ABM

Date published: Date modified: 2024-06-10 strategicabm 550 60

Marcelo Fernandes
Global Head of Adoption & ABM, VP | SAP

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Marcelo is a seasoned B2B Marketer with more than 25 years of experience in technology marketing and entrepreneurship. In his current role he oversees two key strategic initiatives at SAP - Account-based Marketing and Adoption. 
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:
  • The evolution of ABM at SAP
  • The rollout and impact of a global ABM Framework
  • How SAP chooses accounts for its ABM program
  • Why ABM is key to customer adoption and advocacy 
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Customer Lifecycle ABM

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Okay, well, today, I'm joined by Marcelo Fernandes, who's the Global Head of Adoption & ABM, Vice President at SAP. Marcelo, thanks so much for joining us today. 

Marcelo Fernandes (SAP) - Yeah, thanks for having me. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, listen. We've been having a chat. This has been a long time in the making, this episode, so I'm delighted you could make it today, and really looking forward to talking ABM with you and learning a bit more about Account-based Marketing strategy at SAP. 

So let's just start off with a question there about SAP. You've been there, I think, with the company for about nine years now, and obviously, there's been a huge evolution over that period with regards to SAP and also with regards to ABM. So could you paint us a little bit of a picture of what's happening there at your organization, in particular with regards to Account-based Marketing? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, sure, in general, of course, that the, you know, evolution in marketing has been, I think, great from starting back then, years ago, with more focus, specifically, on, you know, Demand Generation, and in a very siloed way. 

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And now we have much more advanced campaigns built, you know, focused on the specific product lines and campaigns that are taking care of the holistic approach of how you build a brand around the specific solution area - that's what we call. 

Particularly related to ABM, you know, Account-based Marketing has been a function that, you know, comes and goes time to time. But in the last two years, almost two and a half years already, you know, there was a decision to really invest in ABM, and that's where, you know, I was fortunate to get this new position. 

And then, you know, coming from a regional perspective, I've always been in charge of taking care of portfolios in Latin America, and then, two and a half years ago, I took this new position to develop the ABM program globally and kind of export best practices that were happening across the regions, but not necessarily called as a 'real ABM'. 

You know, there has always been some sort of effort around ABM - particularly in North America, where there is more maturity, the market is bigger, you know, there are resources focused on ABM there. And in the other regions there were, like, independent efforts going on here and there, you know. So the intent of this function was exactly to gather, you know, these best practices and these approaches that were happening across, you know, different regions and transform them into a specific, you know, ABM playbook, as we call it. 

So, based on these approaches and conversations with the regions and how they were developing things, you know, the idea was to really develop and create this ABM playbook where we gather, you know, and we structure and gather these practices, and then we make it available to everyone in the company so that we can, you know, run ABM programs, kind of trying to come up with a standardization approach to ABM, you know, based on this program. 

And then, from last year to this year, we decided to kind of do a new approach, and even though it is still ABM, we decided to call it Strategic Account Marketing, which we just did, like, what used to be the typical function of ABM, you know, the typical pillars of ABM, to how the company's developing its go-to market now, and how the cloud is getting importance to SAP. 

So we did this small adaptation. We are calling people now SAMers and not ABMers anymore, but in essence, you know, there is a reason behind that. I'm sure that you're going to get, you know, to other questions where we'll be able to explore that, but, you know, the main idea was to kind of run a little bit from the typical ABM concept and really concentrate on the new go-to market of the organization. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Fantastic Marcelo. Well, we will dig a little bit more into that, actually, so I'm just making a couple of notes here. So you touched on there an interesting point around a playbook, and I think you've also referred to it as a framework, I think. 

So could you just share a little bit more information about that in terms of, you've obviously rolled this out now globally across different, you know, geographies: North America, Latin America, APAC, et cetera. What does it mean... What does it look like in... If you could like, you know, make the intangible tangible, what does that mean in practice for people listening who are thinking, "Oh, that's a really great idea to have an ABM framework." What does that look like in practice? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, I really wrote down, like, a playbook. In this playbook, there are things like: what is the objective of ABM? What is it based on? The pillars that we're basing ABM on? What do we want to achieve? What are the KPIs? How are we going to measure? What is the planning process for an ABM, you know, to work with a certain account? How we do alignment with, you know, Sales and stakeholders. What are the, you know, the planning steps that you need to go through from a, you know, account selection to the moment that you really discuss with the Sales, you know, team around that account how you're going to prepare a plan? What plan elements, what we're calling core plan elements, there should be in an ABM program? 

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So, you know, we took all these things together, and then we designed this playbook with all of these kind of instructions. And, for example, two years ago, or one and a half year ago, end of 2022 already, I had the launch of the ABM program for, you know, the teams for 2023, and then, late 2023, in December, we had the launch of the program for the Strategic Account Marketing program for what's going to be in 2024. 

And exactly the idea is that we go through these, you know, steps of, you know, what ABM is formed of and how you actually implement ABM across the regions. And then we are trying to come up to a place where there is this core element that everybody... 

Because what happens sometimes with ABM is you have tactics that are applied and developed in the regions, you know, and they're very great tactics, but sometimes, it's very difficult to report them back from a volume perspective, from a global perspective. 

So what we're trying to achieve is that we come up with some core elements where, you know, people can actually use that core element to implement their programs in the region, but when we report back, you know, and when we aggregate information from different regions, we can say, oh, we have done this X amount of things, you know, to this X amount of accounts, you know, across the region, and that was the result, you know. And we did initiative A multiple times. We did the initiative B multiple times, and we have these specific program elements that will, you know, enable us to tell the story later on. So that's how we developed the approach of the framework and, you know, what became a playbook. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Fascinating, so it's almost, listening to you, it's almost a mix, as you said, between a manual and then also a recipe book. Because the manual explains to people how to do ABM the SAP way, and then, obviously, the recipes is, well, look, these are some of the core elements that we think really work pretty well. Try these, so these are almost like recipes for success. 

I mean, I think that's really fascinating. I was just writing down here a note of everything you said that's included in it. I think we could probably do several episodes of Let's talk ABM just to dig into each one of these different components. 

So let's talk about one component of that manual, which is account selection. I think, when we were chatting prior to this recording just to get to know each other a little bit and to learn a bit more about the program, I think you mentioned at the time there's about just a little bit under 140 key accounts that are included in your One-to-one program. So I suppose for the audience out there, that sounds like a lot of accounts for a One-to-one motion, and I suppose the second question would be, how do you go about customizing, personalizing, when you've got such a large number of accounts to go after and to talk to and to address their challenges? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Well, you know, initially, the program was born because we have, at SAP, a segment of customer that's called the Strategic Customer Program, and initially, the program was born to support that account. 

And typically, we have, you know, it varies year-by-year, but typically, we have around 150 to 170 accounts included in that program. Now, not all of them are, you know, really needing an ABM support. Some of them, depending on the stage, depending on the maturity, depending on the kind of deals that they are, you know, working on, depends on many factors, and depending also on the priorities of the local market units - there may not be a priority for all of them. 

So, you know, we decided also to say, okay, this program is going to be designed for these accounts, for this group of accounts, but also, for local, that we call, large enterprise accounts, which are relevant to the, you know, the market unit because they have some sort of business, this very important account for their business, and not necessarily it's a member of this global SCP - that we call Strategic Customer Programme, SCP - you know, group. 

And then, based on that, we said, okay, so let's prioritize, you know, first, these accounts and then the large enterprises, and then let the regions select, within this group of accounts, what are going to be the relevant ones for them. What happened is that, you know, this year, we have new segmentation at SAP. There are new different segments, and again, we decided to say, okay, the program is going to be focused on these new four segments, and within these new four segments, there is priority number one, priority number two, and priority number three. 

And then, in the same way, these guys in the field, they would select these accounts out of a certain group of accounts that's already a part of these, you know, new segments. As a result of that, we came up with a list of 138 accounts, and we are still missing APJ in this, you know, in this definition because there are some resourcing issues that are being worked on, and eventually, there will be some more accounts joining the program. 

But at the moment, we have 138 accounts. It sounds like, you know, really a lot of accounts, depending on the size of the company, but when you see, you know, from an SAP perspective, 400,000 customers across the world, I mean, 138 are not, you know, is not a big number even though these 138 represent more than 2 billion in active pipeline for us. 

So this is, you know, a group of accounts where we're going to focus on. Now, how are we going to prioritize and to personalize these 138 accounts in the field? When we split this number of accounts by, you know, all the market units, all the regions, the market units, and the number of people, the, you know, ABMers or the SAMers that are engaged with that, it ends up to being, like, eight to 10 accounts per ABMer and sometimes, even a little bit less of that. 

And the idea is that we are going to develop programs for these accounts that are, you know, in some cases, very personalized. There are the, you know, the bigger ones, you know, where we're going to be able to really develop, you know, two, three motions, take advantage of other things that are happening in the company, and, you know, build this journey for this customer that's not only formed by things that were developed specifically to that customer, but also leveraging things that are happening across the company that you can have, like, a kind of white-glove experience within that other thing that's happening. A bigger event, an executive visit in the region, you know, something like this. And not necessarily that the ABMers creating that specific activity, but it's leveraging something that's going on. 

So these accounts, some of them will have multiple touches, you know, multiple engagement opportunities, and some of them will have less. This time will tell across the year, depending on, you know, the focus that even the Sales teams are giving, the support, the connection with, you know, with the Sales, you know, stakeholders also, and know some of them will have more complete, let's say, ABM programs, and some of them will have less complete ABM programs depending on these dynamics of engagement and what happens across the year. 

So let's see, you know, by the end of the year we will know, you know, of that. But as an example, for example, last year, we had 98 accounts selected to the program, and we are able to develop activities for 80 of them, you know, actually. 

And there were a few of them that, you know, we didn't have the resources because there are, you know, sometimes these layoffs happen, or, you know, other situations are happening, or the account changes the focus, or, you know, the Sales team says, well, I had the intent to do something the beginning of the year, but now I don't have anymore. You know, things like that, and it's very dynamic, but we saw good result on the, you know, 80 that were part of the program against the other ones that were selected but were not part of the program. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, I think anybody listening and hearing that 80 out of 98 accounts you had great engagement from and, you know, pipeline opportunities and activity, I think most people would like to have that and take that home with them. 

A couple of questions, actually, based on what you just said there, Marcelo. I think it was interesting the fact when you talk about engagement, you said, obviously, you just don't know what's going to happen, right? 

And I think it reminds me of a conversation I had with one of your fellow contemporaries, one of your peers, Rhiannon Blackwell at PwC, and she said that when you start an ABM program, and she does One-to-one as well, only One-to-one, and she was saying that you have a working hypothesis. And obviously, you put that working hypothesis into market, and then you see what happens in the market, and then some accounts will respond better, some accounts will respond worse, the macro/micro elements that are happening out there in the world that you can and cannot control, so I think that's really interesting. 

I think the second thing was you talked about this kind of being, you know, quite a fluid movement as well, and I think that's what I'm taking from that as well is that you're listening to your Sales leaders and your Account Directors and all the kind of infrastructure there at SAP who are engaged with your accounts, and then you're getting live feedback from them, I'm guessing, right? On each account. And then that's telling you or informing you to do more, to do less, right? 

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Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, I mean, you know, sometimes when the program starts there is commitment from, you know, the... Because what we are doing is that we are creating kind of, you know, Account team, which is not only the Sales folks, you know, it's formed by, you know, the Marketeers as well, right? The ABMers. 

And the idea is that they discuss how the program is going to develop to this customer, and, you know, they start really preparing. And I was just exchanging an e-mail with someone from our European team, and, you know, I was just asking, I mean, I saw some of your plans, some are more complete, some are less complete. We are working on this. We are developing on that. We are talking to the Sales team, you know, to see the activities. 

So it's a very dynamic process, right? I mean, to come up with, you know, a plan for these accounts. So what I have been asking them to do, you know, most of the time is, you know, when you sit and start the discussions with the Sales guys, you know, try to focus on really a journey for this customer. Don't just discuss the, you know, the first activity that you're going to have, but think about your objective, and, how you're going to develop a series of activities, a series of engagements that will lead, you know, to achieve this objective. 

You know, sometimes it's, of course, difficult. It's very hard for you to come at this time of the year, say, I'm going to do, you know, activity number one in May and activity number two in June and number four in August, and, you know, and so on. It's very hard to really, you know, say that at this point, but I think we developed a planning template, and the planning template kind of forces, you know, the people to think about how the objectives of the account are, understand the account, and then propose a plan, you know, that's going to fulfill that need, you know. 

So that's how we are trying to make people think about ABM, and then have a plan based on something that they really understand, you know, just not the theoretical plan. But things change across, along the way, and sometimes, you know, there is some situation of the account, and they were willing to cooperate, and then, all of a sudden, because something happened, they're not, you know, willing to cooperate anymore. So eventually, you have to abandon this account or deprioritize this account, you know, things like that can happen. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, you never know what's going to be just around the corner, right? I think one thing there, Marcelo, you said, which I loved, was the whole thing about treat each account and the program you're going to do as a journey, and I think the more you can do that, the more that you can think about the experience and the journey that you want the customer or the prospect to go through, the more effective your program will be. 

Just talking about that, actually, my understanding was that your original program or the way that SAP was approaching ABM, at least originally, was more around deal acceleration and more about, you know, trying to get customers to go quicker through the deals and to kind of, you know, to come on board with your new solutions. 

My understanding now is that that focus from deal acceleration has moved a bit more towards Customer Lifecycle Marketing, much more focused on the customer and the kind of advocacy, adoption. Is that the case? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yes, it's totally the case. Yeah. I think, you know, because of the way we were kind of doing this, you know, independently in the regions before, there was kind of an idea of doing ABM as a sort of deal support. 

So I have, like, an AE, and the AE needs some sort of help. I go there, produce one video, and I deliver this one video, and that particular video that I produced was to support, you know, something that was going on specifically at that point in time, you know, during the account relationship. 

And one of the things that we started to really change is exactly to think about the account from a lifecycle perspective. So that's why, you know, I always, I also work with adoption in this conversation because, you know, previously, we didn't have adoption because also adoption was not something so, you know, important a few years back, but now it's really important for our customers because we are talking about the cloud, and the cloud business means, you know, usage of the solutions, right? 

So we started to think about, okay, when you develop a strategy for the account, you need to develop this strategy to accelerate the existing pipeline, the existing deals that are there. So supporting with this relationship improvement and making sure that they have more information, that they have all the structure and knowledge of the solutions that we are offering in that particular time. But also make sure that in some situations where they already have a lot of solutions, you know, there may be a focus on the adoption of this solution. 

So it means that you might have to execute activities that are focused on, you know, leveraging this adoption and consumption of the solutions. So ideally, you know, a plan for an account would have these two elements together, you know? That would be the perfect world, right? But in practice, it's very difficult because the focus on the accounts, you know, varies a lot, so some accounts have more focus eventually on the adoption side, and some of them will have more focus on the, you know, the acceleration, the de-acceleration side, and that's up to the Account team that I mentioned before, you know, to decide what's going to be the, you know, the real focus of that plan. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, it's a really interesting point there 'cause obviously, with your job title, where you have Head of Adoption in there as well, and also, you've mentioned how SAP, just like many other technology companies, have moved much more to a cloud revenue model, that's really... How do you see that working, in effect, in terms of... How do you see ABM being somewhat different than... Rather than going for the acquisition or the purchase or the... 

This is where you've got to, as you said, you've got to get people to use your solution because if they don't use your solution, you're not going to bill, I'm guessing, is the business model, right? So you can't just say, hey, we just signed another three-year contract, and we've just, we've had the money transferred to our bank account. Hurray. You're saying, no, actually, winning the client or... It's only just the start of the journey. 

Marcelo (SAP) - Right. Correct. I mean, when you, in this cloud business, typically, when the conversation with the customer starts, now there needs to be, like, a plan of how they're going to use, you know, what they bought, right? 

Because if I am a user of some cloud solution for this video solution that you use here, for example, and you buy, let's say, you know, 20 licenses, and then, after one year, you realize that you're only using 10 licenses. You'll say, okay, I'm renewing this business, but with 10 licenses only because I'm not using 20. 

So the company, in this case, would be, you know, trying to reach out to you and, you know, to their platform customers to make sure that they're teaching and they are making, you know, enabling these customers to know how to use it better, you know, to have more opportunities to use that platform so that the actual 20 licenses that you bought are the 20 licenses that you consume. 

And if the work is done well, you even feel that you need to buy more because there are other features, other, you know, potential solutions. There is a video enhancement too. There is a, whatever, you know, technology that is being sold, so you may want to renew these 20 licenses plus something else. 

So that's the, you know, the objective when we talk about, you know, adoption. And actually, the fact that I have adoption in my title is because, you know, within... I work within the Field Marketing organization, so, you know, adoption itself is something that's not only for ABM. An ABM account may have an adoption plan, you know, associated with it, you know, thinking about the customer lifecycle of that particular account. 

But adoption, you know, it's a One-to-many play where you really have to touch, you know, thousands and thousands of customers that, you know, the company has. So that's another motion that I work with, not necessarily connected with ABM, but, of course, that adoption is included in ABM. But adoption itself is a completely different monster. It's much more complex than, you know, just including it in ABM. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, understood. So you mentioned there about your team. My understanding is that you've got quite a significant team dotted around the globe, some of which work for you full-time, some of which work for you part-time. I think that's correct. I think last time we were... I think you mentioned it was about 40, approximately, people. 

And obviously, with the complexity of actually not everyone working 100% of their time for ABM. So I'm guessing they're in all geographies, as you mentioned, APAC and North America, Latin American, et cetera. So how do you make that work for you when, particularly when they're not all 100% dedicated to the efforts of ABM? How do you make that work for you? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, well, that is a complicated, you know, setup. The only region that we actually have, you know, a dedicated team is North America. They have, you know, a manager, and they have a team, and they also have the larger number of accounts, you know, that they need to focus on. So that was a decision made many years ago to develop this team, and they have been there for quite a while. They are the most mature. They are the ones doing, you know, more activities because they have dedicated focus on ABM only. 

The other regions, I've been, you know, working with regional, you know, regional points of contact to exactly enable, also, to discuss how we move forward with the programs, you know, to make sure that we are going after the planning cycle in a correct way, that, you know, the selection process is done in the regions. 

But then, the execution, that's where we have, you know, more delays, of course, because people are not 100% focused on ABM only. They have, sometimes, two or three different, you know, hats, and, you know, that makes their life a little bit more difficult. 

So the progress is not so fast as I would like it to be, or if we had, like, a vertical team working exclusively on ABM, I think we would be much, you know, further down the road, but we are advancing, you know, slowly or slower than I would like, but we are advancing, and we are, you know, every day doing more and more programs. 

And this year, for example, compared to last year when we did planning, we see much more solid plans coming in, you know, with people already really thinking on how they're going to develop these activities to make sure we cover, you know, these accounts. And also, because of the new, you know, segmentation that I was talking about, the new go-to-market that we are doing, I think we gain a lot of more, you know, exposure with ABM, with the Strategic Account Marketing program within the company, and there are more people asking, there are more people interested in that, which means that we are gaining more, you know, relevance, I think, in the business. 

But still we have a lot of, you know, internal resourcing situations and difficulties that we have to overcome. And I think, by the end of the year, time will tell. 

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We are also working, for example, how to measure, you know, the ABM impact. So I'm developing, like, a dashboard to see how we are progressing opportunities and how much pipeline we are touching and things like that, and, of course, using well-known methods to do that. 

But, you know, that's where we are. We're working, and these 40 people, you know, they are spread across the globe right across multiple regions and countries and so on, and these 100-and-something accounts is spread across these, you know, 40 people. But almost half, 45% of these accounts is sitting in North America, for example. So where we still have more, you know, a more solid team. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. Just a point there, actually. You mentioned about measurement, and that's obviously, you know, a little bit of an Achilles' heel for many ABM practitioners, is how do they bring the measurement together? 'Cause it can be quite complex. Have you got any advice to share with the audience about how you're approaching measurement? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Measurement is a nightmare. It's not, you know, it's very complicated. But we, of course, each company has its own, you know, internal systems and methods and so on. 

But what we are trying to do this year is we are trying to associate, we have a methodology to measure the impact of Marketing activity for a period of time, you know, a certain period of time after the activity was done. So we monitor, you know, we do, like, an event today, and there are a few accounts that attend to this event, and then we monitor what happened with the pipeline, like, 60 days after that activity and if there was some sort of, you know, increase in the pipeline or, you know, or closure of any business or, you know, anything that changed, we attribute this particular moment for that accounts that attended. 

So in this way, we are trying to say, okay, there was some kind of influence because this activity was done, and then there was a movement around a certain, you know, period after the day of the execution so that we can see that there was an influence. 

And we also have other ways. We have, like, internal code CRM IDs that we call, that we are creating CRM IDs to these specific accounts this year so that after the activities, the teams can, you know, upload to our system these codes with, you know, their contacts and so on, and there is an automatic attribution of pipeline or demand generation to the specific, you know, ID that was created for that account. 

So we're going to, you know, we're trying to measure this this year. We're going to see, by the end of the year, how the measurement progresses and especially, how we see, you know, deals progressing from stage to stage until they get close to, you know, as we call it, a book-it-in-one, so deal. So that's how we're going to try to measure. 

I mean, each company needs to understand what are their metric tools, internal, you know, measurement tools to be able to leverage that in their ABM programs. But it's a very complicated thing, I must say. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And I'm guessing you're also looking because obviously, you mentioned that these are existing customers, enterprise customers, very valuable customers to SAP, you're also looking at how the impact of your program is on the relationships and the reputation within those organizations, I'm guessing, right? 

Marcelo (SAP) - We have a proposal to do that, but it's so... Because I don't have, you know, these dedicated, 100% dedicated people, and we have pulled in so many different, you know, conversations and situations, it's very difficult to actually make it tangible this, you know, this measurement, you know, so initially we... It's a kind of, okay, today I know that in this account I have a relationship with five people, and tomorrow, I have a relationship with 10 people. But, you know, really measuring that in a systematic way, that's a challenge, you know, because it gets very manual if you go that direction. 

And, I mean, reputation is also... You need to use researching tools. You need to use other methodologies to use that, so we're not really, you know, there yet. We're more concerned about the business impact, you know, and understanding that if there is business impact, that's because probably there is a better relationship and a better connection with the account, right? 

Declan (strategicabm) - Correct. Correct. Well, let's just talk about some of that. I know it's a little bit of, a little bit of a thing for you in terms of when you're... I see your activity on LinkedIn and some of the comments you make and we've talked about this before. But I think you've got a certain way of seeing ABM and Account-based Marketing, and I think, when we were talking before, you kind of have a definition that what you think ABM is and what you think ABM isn't. Could you perhaps, Marcelo, share that with us today? Where do you see it? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, it's funny that I, you know, I had to go through some internal conversations by, you know, the end of last year about that because all of a sudden, people started to talk about One-to-few and One-to-many ABM programs. And I was, like, freaking out because I really think, and I really believe that ABM, as the name says, is account-based, you know? ABM shouldn't be segment-based, audience-based, you know, targeting account, target list-based, or anything like that.

Because I think when you really work with, you know, a large group of accounts, and you don't know exactly what specifically you have, you know, in this, within this group, I mean, who is who in this group? And what are the situations of each account? It becomes a segmentation play, right? It becomes, I'm doing this industry campaign. I'm doing this, you know, CMO, CFO, CHRO campaign. I'm doing specific to a specific group, but that's a very wide specific message, right? 

I think the beauty of ABM is that when you double-click on this account and you select one, and then imagine that you created, like, a paper where you're discussing, you know, the evolution of marketing, and you have, like, a few points in this paper, and you're sending to this all groups, the entire group of CMOs. There may be a few of them that are not really concerned about the five points that you created, but they're just concerned about one, or they're trying to, you know, to really, they're really struggling with, you know, implementing the basic one. They're not even in that, you know, moment in time. 

So I think the beauty with ABM is really when you start to, you know, dig down and understand that particular situation of that account and propose, you know, a personalization in content and in experiences that is really talking directly to them. 

You might be leveraging other, of course, resources from the company, you know: papers, materials, you know, assets that are available within the company, but you need to kind of tailor them to this specific situation of this account. And that's where I think the beauty of ABM comes in. 

So one of the reasons why we changed from ABM to Strategic Account Marketing this year is that because we started to see this movement of people talking about One-to-few and One-to-many ABM, and we said, well, my God, that's going to be very confusing, so let's kind of run out of that conversation and create this specific account marketing program. And it kind of worked well. I think we were able to position that in a nice way and run out of the confusion with the... If it's ABM One-to-few, One-to-many, and so on. Actually, the ABM conversation even faded away a little bit, you know, after we did that. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I mean that's good advice. I think my advice to anyone who's looking to launch an ABM program is always to define what ABM means for you and for your organization, and if you decide to call it something else because that's what you, I think that's perfectly fine, but I think the most important thing is what you guys have gone through, which is a kind of definition of what it means for you, what you want it to be for SAP, and that everyone's on board with that thinking. I think that's very, that's great to see, really, 'cause not every company does that kind of really important building block at the beginning. 

Just talking about that, actually, and maybe this might lead in nicely, you mentioned before that you shared an anecdote about this ABM campaign that you ran. I think you ran it into about 60,000 employees of one customer. Is that something that you could share a little bit? What was the thinking behind it? And what was the impact of running a campaign into 60,000 employees? Which is a little bit different to people thinking, oh, well, they're not targeting the decision-makers; they're targeting the much wider organization. What was your thinking behind that? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah. This was, I think, was end of 2022 or beginning of '23, and we decided... Actually, there was a customer, you know, I cannot bring the customer, mention the customer name, but there was a large, you know, really global company, very well-known brand that the CIO was really willing to get our help on promoting a certain solution that, you know, it was under discussion with the company. And so they wanted us to, you know, impact people within that organization. 

So what the team did is they developed, you know, a digital campaign for this company. They created, like, a, you know, landing page with, you know, the assets and stories around that specific solution that he was asking support, and then they did a, you know, paid social campaign in LinkedIn to tackle, you know, to these 60,000 employees of this company. 

And, you know, even though it's a large number, of course, we had, for example, in this company, 153,000 impressions, you know, that were done to these people. Of course, not all of them click on this. Not all of them... If you think about the technology infrastructure of a company and how many people actually understand, you know, the technology infrastructure that, you know, they're working on every day, it's not a lot of people, right? 

But I think the exposure of the brand, the exposure of, you know, people being impacted by a campaign like this was a great thing. But we had some, for example, 2.43% engagement rate, you know, where the industry benchmark is about 0.9%, which shows that there was some good relevance to this, you know, to this particular company. So the engagement was, you know, was very high. 

We had more than 700, you know, click unique visitors to this, you know, landing page, which was great. And, of course, that, you know, as I say, it looks like you're making a campaign for 60,000 people, and then you only get 729 clicks, right? But, of course, that in the digital world, that's kind of the numbers that we typically work on, right? It's not that you do something for thousands of, you know, people, and then you get thousands of clicks as well, right? So the fact that you're getting the 700 clicks means, from an engagement perspective, a much higher, you know, number than the average benchmark is. 

So that was a very successful solution, and that was, like, a more brand-building, you know, really reputation, kind of, you know, connection with the company. And imagine telling, you know, the CIO of this company, yeah, we are investing in the digital, you know, campaign and making sure that your employees will know about this specific solution. That's what he was actually looking for, so that was a great situation. 

And I'm a big fan of using, you know, digital to achieve this, you know, big members or employees in these companies. I think when we think about ABM, you don't need to think only about the decision-makers. You know, typically, we think about the CEO and the C-level, the decision-makers, the guys, as we call it, with the heavy pen, right? 

And, you know, I think what I'm telling to the SAMers in SAP is don't think only about the decision-makers; let's think about the account. So you have multiple levels in the account, so you may do an exclusive VIP meeting with the C-level, but you can also do a digital campaign for multiple people in this company, or you can do a white-glove experience for people from this company that's attending one of our large, you know, events. 

So let's try to touch multiple levels of this company so that you really, you know, influence the account as a whole because we know that, of course, a guy that signs the deal is not necessarily a guy that's making all the evaluations, you know, the technical evaluations and the usage evaluations, and business solutions. So it's important to have the relationship and influence, you know, in multiple levels. 

Declan (strategicabm) - No, it's very good point, and I think it also goes back to your point around adoption as well. And there's a good argument to say that running these types of campaigns into an organization is a great way to increase adoption of the solution as well, right? 

So let's... Sorry, Marcelo, let's finish off with some rapid-fire questions. I'm going to hit you with one, two, three, four rapid-fire questions just to finish off with. So you've been in the ABM game for a long time now. You're a seasoned, I could probably call you a seasoned ABMer, or, in your case, or an SAMer, in your case at SAP. What would you say is the greatest learning you've had about ABM over the course of the last years? 

Marcelo (SAP) - I think that, you know, maybe the relationship between volume and value. It's something that's very important, as I was describing before. That's why I believe so much in this company because, you know, usually, we are used to working with these large campaigns and large numbers, and, you know, you had multiple customers attending something. You have thousands of clicks and things like that, but you need to really double-click to this specific account. 

And I have an interesting, you know, CMO story, you know. Back in the day, I was talking to a CMO customer, and, you know, we were, I don't remember what we were selling. Maybe, I think maybe it was like mobility or something like that, you know, apps, something like that. And the guy was saying, you know, I cannot even implement, you know, something that's very basic in my organization. How can I, you know, really think about this whole technology evolution that's coming, you know, later? 

So really understanding the scenario of the customer and how you're adding value to that particular customer, I think that's a very good learning from ABM. And that's something that I learned, you know, many, many years ago when I used to, I was working in telco companies, and I used to visit, you know, these customers with these big operators with the Sales team, and they would go to the, you know, Procurement or Technology departments, and I would go to the Marketing department to make, you know, relationships with them and help them to sell the services that we were actually selling the operator, right? And then, you really realize that, you know, each organization has a completely different, you know, way to approach things and the maturity level. 

So, you know, that's the beauty of ABM. That's, I think that's the nicest, you know, learning that I can take out of ABM, you know, in this last two years, I guess. 

Declan (strategicabm) - No, I think it's a great one to share. So following off on that, Marcelo, the hardest part of ABM for those listeners out there who perhaps are new to ABM, what would you say is the hardest thing about ABM? 

Marcelo (SAP) - It's, I think, what defines what personalization really means. I think, you know, there are different levels of personalization that you can do. You know, people can do One-to-many campaigns. I know that, you know, today you have many, you know, digital tools and websites that can do massive customization, right? That you can access the website and can say, "Hello, Mr.," you know, I don't know. "Hello Mr. Coca-Cola. How are you?" You know, and based on your domains and things like that, but that's not exactly the personalization that we want to achieve with, you know, ABM, right? 

I think, when you're really able to work with creative with an agency to really come up with something that's really dedicated to that particular account, that's where the ABM play really is strong, and that's where we are able to build a big difference, I think, to that particular account. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, that's music to my ears because I think that's, like, what we do at our Agency's very much around that area of deep personalization and not so much playing on the technology, but much more playing on what you know about the individual or the account. 

I think we may have touched on this before, but I'll ask the question again: The greatest misconception about ABM. 

Marcelo (SAP) - Oh, I think it's doing One-to-few and One-to-many ABM. I think, you know, I like to repeat that a lot. I know that there are people calling ABM One-to-many, One-to-few, but I really don't agree with this concept. 

I think if you go back to the core ABM idea, it's really account-based, right? The name says. So you really need to be able to understand this particular account and develop something that's, you know, related to their reality, to their needs. 

That's where the ABM play comes in, and when you go to One-to-few or One-to-many, it means that you're already segmenting or you're already, you know, defining a common, you know, attribute that you want to touch for this group of accounts. And even though you might say that there's some level of personalization there, I wouldn't call it really ABM, right? It may be just a segmented campaign or targeted campaign. I think it makes more more sense to call it like that than ABM. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, there will be a lot of listeners out there thinking, oh, am I doing ABM or am I not doing ABM? So think it's a very valid point there to think around the level of personalization, the level of actually getting under the skin of the customer or the prospect. 

And obviously, if you think about the origins of ABM, obviously, origins of ABM, 21 years ago, were with customers as opposed to new logo acquisition. And I think there's been this big shift, I suppose, I think you'll probably agree, with ABM people looking at ABM as being a solution for new logo acquisition, which it can be, and it is one of the use cases, but the heritage of ABM, the history of ABM is definitely with what you're doing there at SAP in terms of customer: customer expansion, customer loyalty, customer adoption. 

Very last question for you. We're recording this on a Monday, Marcelo, and it's, obviously you're in Brazil, so it's early morning for you. But let's imagine we're going to fast forward to Friday, and it's, you know, you've had a very tough week, and you're just looking forward to shutting your laptop down, and you're going to have a cold beer or a cold Coca-Cola or whatever your favorite tipple is. 

And you get a call from an old friend of yours from one of your old companies, and they say, "Hey Marcelo, you won't guess this, but I've been asked to launch an ABM strategy, and I've got to present to the CEO next week." So they ask you, "What is that one thing you've got to make sure that I include in that presentation?" So what would be that one thing you say, make sure you include this in the presentation? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Well, I think, you know, in ABM, less is more. So really, have a data-driven, you know, decisions. If he's going to present this, he needs to go through the numbers of, you know, his company and say, okay, these are my top valued customers because of whatever criteria they have, right? 

And say, these are the ones I believe we should focus on, and instead of having, trying to embrace the world, I mean, we should focus on this small group of customers here because they have high revenue expectations or high renew expectations, you know, in the future. Or because of some business reason, they are strategic, and then, they should be the the ones to focus on. 


I think when someone goes after that kind of data-driven decision and don't think about let's try to establish a huge ABM program, let's focus on these few accounts first, which are the most valuable to the company, I think there's a higher chance of success. 

Declan (strategicabm) - So keep it small, be led by data, and then see what happens, and then you can grow from there, and hopefully, you'll get the CEO to give you the green lights, right? 

Marcelo (SAP) - Right. Exactly. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, Marcelo, well, thank you so much for sharing your ABM journey with us today, and wish you and everyone there at SAP all the success for the future. Thank you. 

Marcelo (SAP) - Yeah, thanks for the opportunity. Thank you all.