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Developing global accounts with ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM. we talk to Andreas Villumsen Global Account Marketing Manager, Jabra. Andreas shares how ABM is the engine behind Jabra's enterprise growth.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-08-02 strategicabm 550 60

Andreas Villumsen
Global Account Marketing Manager, Jabra

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Andreas heads up ABM for leading audio firm Jabra’s Global Account Program in EMEA. He oversees a strategy that is responsible for winning, growing and retaining a strategic set of 125 accounts. Andreas is passionate about Sales enablement and helping Jabra deal teams excel through personalised Account experiences.

Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the strategicabm brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

Watch this webinar and learn: 

  • How Jabra’s Global Account program drives growth
  • Why ABM is key to Jabra’s ‘land and expand’ strategy
  • What are some of the hardest parts of ABM
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
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Developing global accounts with Account-based Marketing

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Andreas Villumsen, Global Account Marketing Manager at Jabra. Andreas, thanks so much for joining us today. 

Andreas Villumsen (Jabra) - Thanks so much for the invitation, thanks. I look very much forward to our conversation now. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Exactly. We're going to spend, you know, 20-30 minutes talking about ABM. So let's just kick off with a question around Jabra. 

Obviously, very familiar brand in the market for a number of years - in the audio market for a number of years. Can you tell us a little bit more about the company and perhaps why Account-based Marketing was the right strategy for your company? 

Andreas (Jabra) - Oh, I'd be delighted to, so you can say Jabra’s a, I even think, 152-year-old company now right? Back in the days, we had a very intelligent and clever guy in charge of the company who actually put in the telegraph cables, connecting Europe to Asia. 

Just imagine - creating the world's first internet back in those days, right? Quite the endeavor and journey to put out, I don't even know, 9,000 miles or whatever, telegraph cables, which was quite astonishing. 

So you can see Jabra has been in the business of audio and communications really for 152 years, which is quite remarkable. If we fast forward to today, we are a group of two large corporations listed on the Danish Stock Exchange, being one of the 20 biggest companies in Denmark called GN Store Nord A/S - which equates to 'Great Northern', which is the GN abbreviation actually. 

So part of the company is focused on hearing aid manufacturing, and then the part of Jabra - GN Audio as we're formally called - is in the headset and video business. So 152 years, and having those capabilities under the same roof, it's actually quite remarkable because everything that happens in, in hearing aid industry miniaturization, getting amplifiers, audio microphone, all that good stuff to work in, in those very tiny pieces of technology is something that we leverage intelligently, of course, in our division within Jabra. So quite a strong, powerful house, we've got ourselves built here in Copenhagen. 

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Declan (strategicabm) - In terms of ABM and the kind of the, the kind of companies that you serve and, and globally why was ABM the right strategy for Jabra? 

Andreas (Jabra) - That's, it's a really good question. You can say - and this is reversing back 9 or 10 years - Jabra was managing, obviously, a lot of global and international companies. And what we found was that these companies had some common traits or whatever between them, right? How can we roll out unified communications technology that is 'MS Teams' or even back in the days it was probably 'Communicate' and 'Zoom' and 'Google Meet' and whatever those platforms are called today, right? 

And we realized, or they realized because this is before my time, that we needed to put in place this Global Accounts team to serve these customers as a single program, really, because these companies were on a journey to make sure that resellers were able to fulfill whatever requirements they would have anywhere in the world. They wanted to centralize which platforms they were using. They wanted to centralize all that technology purchasing et cetera. 

So the Jabra Global Accounts team was put in place, I think a little over nine years ago, just a small team to start with and has since scaled. And today, this team is internally more than, I think, we're probably 55 people in the team. So not only Marketing people, of course, a lot of Salespeople, Program Managers, a Sales Director and Marketing as well. 

So, and ABM just became this very relevant, should we call it a strategic approach, to sales. Because these customers would want to have personalized stories. They would want to be felt more of VIP treatment and stuff. And ABM was just a logical choice I think, to apply to, to these 125 accounts.

Declan (strategicabm) - So, as you mentioned, Andreas obviously, the ABM journey there at Jabra started 9 or 10 years ago. And what do you think you've learned most during that period around, you know, targeting customers deploying ABM as a strategy? What would you say are some of the greatest learnings that you have there? 

Andreas (Jabra) - Yeah, so I think Sales, as soon as they realize the power and the capabilities that a dedicated Marketing team can bring to them is obviously an eye-opener, right? Not having to only - and I don't mean this disrespectfully - but not having to only use whatever corporate brand materials or whatever is being developed, but having this dedicated team in place that can transform or personalize stories and value propositions to meet the specific pain points and drivers of a customer, I think is, is hugely interesting, right?

And obviously, ABM isn't the solution in all cases and all customer engagements that we have with these 125 accounts. A lot of them are on a, should we call it a 'runway', type of business with Jabra. But obviously, ABM can help in a lot of senses - say not only from a Demand Generation awareness perspective but also a Sales Enablement perspective, really, right? How do customers communicate that and choose us on how to use a headset or to know stuff like that? So is, this is why I and the Marketing team in Global Accounts are here to serve that partnership with customers. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And obviously you mentioned that there are 125 accounts globally within this group of, of Global Accounts that you're looking to develop. When we spoke previously, you talked about them belonging to three different groups, and, and obviously that you had different strategies for each one. Can you talk a little bit through those three groups and, and some of the work that you do? 

Andreas (Jabra) - So, to really to, to understand and assess where we are with each of these customers, say some of them are what we would call very mature customers. We've been partnering with them for a number of years, even all the 9-10 years whatever, of business since the program started, right? 

And there will be different needs for these customers. You can see, really,  the classification that we have done is we've grouped them into three different 'buckets', more or less a third of each of the global accounts, in each of those three classified buckets. We have the ‘Mature’, then we have a level we call ‘Development’ and then a third layer that we call ‘Acquisition’. 

So the Mature ones are very much about retaining the business that we have and obviously introduce as soon as we bring new products to market, make sure that they get to see them, test them, adopt them of course, right? But we would see significant revenue coming from all three main regions that we operate in. So we have North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific region. And these Mature accounts are very, very mature in each of all three regions.

The Development accounts are typically where we see a large portion of headquarter-based revenue come in, but still with big growth potential in the remaining regions. 

And then Acquisition means we would have sporadic or little revenue, with these customers, but still, with that, should we call it a big Total Addressable Market opportunity. And really this addressable market opportunity, of course, is the number of employees that would be in need of a headset or speaker device or video device, compared to how many employees these companies would have totally, right? 

So, it's, it's quite the easy figure to look at market share, wallet share - whatever we would call it. We know exactly where we need to to make inroads or introduce new products and services. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And when we were speaking previously about a couple of your clients, there that are obviously very very large global players, you mentioned that one of the key focus that you have there for the ABM program is to kind of 'land and expand' because very often there's you know, hundreds of, of decision-makers across the globe and you have to go country-to-country and location-to-location. 

So what, what - talk us through a little bit about how that looks like. 

Andreas (Jabra) - So I mean, a lot of companies I think in wishful thinking would love to just have one decision-maker in charge and then roll out services across the organization anywhere in the world, but that's very rarely feasible, right? Of course, there are some big strategic decisions on which platforms do we operate on but that might very well be some local or regional preferences or legislation or whatever it could be, where you need to divert, from that corporate strategy. 

And then simply from a decision-making point, do you have global partnerships with your vendors all across the globe, or do you prefer to have better relationships with others that might do a better job in Germany or UK or wherever, right? So that maybe offsprings from, from that corporate strategy. 

So perfectly back to your outline, some companies are capable of making this global program or rollout. Others will have very decentralized decision making. And of course, that makes our job harder in not having to just go to one decision-maker, perhaps multiple, even hundreds sometimes. 

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Declan (strategicabm) - And in terms of how you kind of take that program when you, when you win a contract, for example in one location and you look to deploy ABM, then across the globe. Can you talk a little bit through maybe some of the program in terms of, you know, what does it look like? How are you kind of building influence across those decision-makers in those multiple locations? 

Andreas (Jabra) - Sure. Right. So I think we would love to be able to say that we do everything in, in a perfect way and that's not the case, right? Managing 125 accounts. And just to give you a number these are 19 million employees within those 125 accounts, right? So obviously a two-man Marketing team including our two students won't be able to 'ABM-cover' all those 125 accounts all in a single go. 

But I think ultimately it's very much about understanding, where are we with each of those accounts? Where do we need to make plays? Do we know the right stakeholders? Do we need to create some programs? Or demand generation or awareness campaigns or whatever it may be to get to know the right stakeholders, right? 

And obviously, the revenue figures will tell us how well we are engaged but it's very much also about the CRM discipline, the knowledge of the Sales guys and the team they have, where are we, and what needs to happen? And then, of course, it's very much about understanding the drivers within those companies, what are they trying to strategically achieve as a company, and how do unified communications and you know virtual collaboration and all that stuff, help them? And how can we build stories that help frame that proposition? 

And that proposition has a lot of, you know, generic type stories. But if we want to be truly customer-centric, as we do, we need to personalize and cater for those personalized individual stories. 

So this is, this is how we normally go about it reviewing of course, on an annual basis, where are we with each of these accounts and where do we need to focus attention? And it could be maintaining a business, it could be developing a new business or it could be cross-selling, upselling whatever, right? 

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay. And then obviously, so, so what I'm taking from that is that you're looking from a resource point of view. You need to work out where to put your resources because you've got such a large number of accounts. And obviously, as you mentioned, serving 90 million you know, end-users, potentially right? Across all those companies. So you're looking to work out where to deploy your resources, what level of personalization you're looking to deploy, and then trying to build those stories - those engagement stories, so that clients will engage with the brand and engage with, engage with Jabra, right? 

So actually, Andreas, you mentioned earlier on that, you know, Sales Enablement is key, building relationships with the Sales team is absolutely key for the success of your ABM program there. Can you talk us through a little bit about how you've achieved that in terms of that level of, alignment with your Sales colleagues? 

Andreas (Jabra) - So, I'm being brutally honest here. We don't necessarily engage with, to the same extent, all the Salespeople in the Global Accounts team. May some of them have, you know, either really technical difficulties that they need to have, you know to have dedicated Engineering teams to help with or whatever, right? 

But, I think ultimately it's, it's about aligning on those goals, together with Sales. One thing is revenue figure that needs to be achieved or a target or whatever, right? That's the no-brainer of the business. And Jabra has been extremely successful not only during the pandemic year, of course where the need for audio and video devices exploded. But even before that time, right? And so you can say the alignment with Sales is a critical component. 

And I think if you look up ABM, it is about aligning Sales and Marketing - joint goals and objectives, right? So that's the no-brainer. 

Then you can say, what levels of the requirements does each of these accounts have? Some may not have the need to do, to know big adoption programs, rolling out tonnes of materials to those organizations. 

They might have, what we would call it, 'plug and play' type of approach to unified communications. And that's perfectly fine. But we also know that the investment they make into our devices, and that technology in general, it doesn't necessarily have the same levels of ROI in terms of employee productivity, you know, are you bringing across the right tone of your voice or your brand when you virtually engage with customers or even internally, right?

So we have some quite powerful tools and communication support services to help these accounts and that will differ from account to account. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And actually, you made an interesting point there around you know, obviously what's been happening in the course of the last 12, 13, 14 months which is obviously unheralded and we've all been through very, very difficult times. But with regards to Jabra there, within terms of their unified communication offering, this was clearly a moment of crisis but also a moment of opportunity. 

And in the last Let's talk ABM episode, I was talking to you about Marlowe Fenne, who heads up ABM at FireEye. And they went through a similar issue around a very famous hack called SolarWinds. What, what was the response from Jabra when, you know back in March last year when the whole pandemic hit and it was, everybody started working from home, what, what was the response? 

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Andreas (Jabra) - Yeah. And even then, since we have the majority of our production capabilities in China, we actually saw, you can say the very early start of the pandemic, already back in January, beginning of February. Not only did it hit the Chinese New Year - so normally we would have this, say two-week window, where operations or production is more or less flat out not going on because of the Chinese New Year - but we suddenly saw this huge increase in demand coming from APAC based customers - China and Hong Kong, Singapore, where of course global accounts are very much represented too, right? 

And, and those warning signs, you can say, both had a positive as well as a negative impact on Jabra, right? I think we were only just across March, the start of the month, when suddenly distributors, resellers - we are a two-tier model company, we don't sell directly, right? - they were taking in huge stock, and more or less emptied all of our global warehouses of products simply because this unprecedented demand started. 

And from a production perspective, we had no forecast that this demand was going to explode, meaning that we needed to ramp up production capabilities and all that stuff simply to keep up with that market demand, right? 

And you would see some customers matching the some of the banks or insurance companies say that that needed to be actively working still. They couldn't have, like a down period in any sense. They sent home 40-50,000 people to work from home, and they didn't necessarily have the right equipment to work from home than they did in the office, right? So they could suddenly place 10 or 5X the number of headset orders that they normally would. 

And how would we then prioritize who to sell to? And we had to put in some, quite some strict figures you can say the, obviously the first-line responders, with medical services and all that stuff, we gave primary priority to these customers. But then if the whole banking, financing, insurance system collapsed, that would have a catastrophic impact as well. So they were, should we call it second in line? And then we had to know, look at who needed to be in the queue of, of getting products as soon as they were produced in factories, right? 

So it was just a crazy start of 2020 having to not only scale production in some capacity, even 4X the usual amount of products being produced. So very big learning for Jabra and, ultimately, also having to disappoint some customers, right? That we couldn't fulfill requirements and they had to go and shop elsewhere, unfortunately, right? So a tough learning moment for sure, but also very, you know, interesting to see what response customers had, how well prepared were they - we call it Disaster Recovery with you know the platforms and anything under there but the operational efficiency of keeping the lights on, I think was quite the tough task for a lot of these customers too, right? 

Declan (strategicabm) - I mean, remarkable times and, and companies had to, as you said, you know dig deep and move very, very quickly. And, I think thankfully obviously we're now on the other side, hopefully of all this. 

Let's talk about ROI and your ABM program there. I understand that the way that you've been measuring it, is that the ABM accounts or accounts that are benefiting from an ABM approach, outperform non-ABM accounts by around, about 25% in terms of performance. What do you think is behind that? 

Andreas (Jabra) - Oh yeah. It's - and this is not scientific numbers, right? 'Cause, obviously we could be lucky that one, lucky in the sense, that one customer could be having a big project if they had been then 'ABM serviced', can we take credit for our... perhaps we can, perhaps we can't right. 

But ultimately the way that we've been looking at it is, of course, to see where our team has put significant effort into serving those customers. They did outperform the non-ABM service accounts within the Global Accounts program. And that's been similar, across the past four or five years that we have seen this over-performance on those 'ABM-serviced' accounts. As I said, we can't take full credit. This also depends very much on projects. It depends very much on the Sales, people servicing those customers too, right? 

But I think there is a revelation in those numbers, still, that, being a technology vendor and not only selling products, and then forget about the customer, but having this, should we call it, VIP type of approach. Making sure that they have the right communication materials, making sure that end users actually adopt using those devices that they have invested in, et cetera is very much helpful. 

And we know for a fact that some of our customers also work with some of our competitors and we have a very attractive program, compared to some of our competitors in bringing more than just sales advice, but, but this whole end-to-end type of service and those accounts, and, and that is a differentiator for sure, right? 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of the impact that ABM has had at Jabra, what's been the response from the C-suite, from the Executive team there, in terms of the ABM program, and the levels of investment that they're now making in your program? 

Andreas (Jabra) - Yeah. So you can say investment has been big. Obviously, the Global Accounts program is a 'baby' close to our executives' hearts. The owner of the Global Accounts program is our Senior Vice President who reports directly to our CEO, who created the program back in the day. So obviously, he's our big internal sponsor, you can say. 

The fact is that also that the Global Accounts program makes up around 25% of all B2B revenue that we make at Jabra. So it is a high-priority strategic program, of course with big attention from all around the C-suite executives at Jabra. 

And then you can say the ABM approach compared to the, should we call, my traditional Field Marketing colleagues or even Channel colleagues, I think, a lot of the things that we do and we are in a special spot, you can call us 'incubation', to some extent we get to test and develop new programs or initiatives because typically the customer movement happens first with these global international customers. This puts us in a spot to be creative or try and build out new inroads to customers or develop programs that may be a new way of doing Jabra business with customers. 

And some of these programs, of course, get adopted by the broader Marketing organization within Jabra. So, it's really an interesting place from a professional perspective to sit in this Global Accounts Marketing team. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, I think you've definitely got a lot of eyes from the organization looking down on you all and obviously those 125 accounts are absolutely critical for the success - current and future - of Jabra, right? 

Just a couple of questions to finish off with, Andreas. ABM, what do you think is the hardest thing about doing ABM? 

Andreas (Jabra) - I would definitely say that organizations need to dedicate, to dedicate full-time resources to it from a Marketing perspective if they want to be successful. This is not something you can do next to your PR or Events Marketing or whatever, right? It needs to be full-time dedication. Otherwise, I think you're going to choke on the task. 

And then obviously there would be measures of, you know, the customer intimacy you want to have with customers. Do you believe that it will be a differentiator? Typically, you would also be looking at longer sales cycles. It wouldn't be those short one-offs, type of approaches. So there need to be some of these figures in place say, for ABM to be meaningful, I would say, right? 

Then of course, the whole alignment and credibility building with Sales is, it's not something done overnight. It is something that will progress over the years and will materialize as, as the ABM team makes their success cases you can see. 

I think a dream scenario, from a lot of Sales guys, would be to have dedicated ABM resources to support them, right? Could they avoid spending time building PowerPoint decks or reshuffling data sheets or whatever they would be sending to their customers - that's a luxury, of course. 

But it also needs to make sense. You wouldn't want to do it for a customer that would be buying 50 headsets off you, right. It needs to have a certain scale or potential. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And finally, what advice would you have for anyone out there who is, you know, at the beginning of their ABM journey, they're considering it as a go-to-market strategy. They've started and they're not quite sure it's going well. And also you've been doing ABM there for a number of years. What advice would you have for them? 

Andreas (Jabra) - So, definitely reviewing the accounts that need to be in it, right? Or it might even be, so it doesn't have to be the typical One-to-one ABM approach, right? 

You could also have some industries, for sure, where you saw either a big potential opportunity or where you would be able to reach a broader number of customers with more or less the same sounding value proposition, right? That makes perfect sense from an ABM approach, to start broad and then you might personalize further down the funnel you get, but it would be very much about looking at potential. And it would be very much about looking at, who are the ideal customers to be part of an ABM program? 

The Sales even acknowledge or want to have engagements from Marketing into their sales work, right? 'Cause if you don't have the buy-in from Sales it's going to be a disaster for sure. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Andreas, thanks for that advice. And thanks so much for sharing your ABM journey with us today and all the very best for the future. Thanks a lot. Really appreciate the talk here.


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