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Formula One ABM

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak with Christian Weiss, Director of ABM, EMEA at Autodesk, about the importance of placing the customer in the center your ABM program.

Date published: Date modified: 2022-09-20 strategicabm 550 60

Christian Weiss
Director of ABM, EMEA | Autodesk

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Christian is a seasoned Marketer and a veteran ABMer. His passion for Account-based Marketing is palatable in this podcast episode as he shares his ABM journey, his collaborative approach to working with his Sales colleagues, and why he believes that the customer should be at the heart of any ABM strategy.
Declan heads up Marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the strategicabm brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

Watch this webinar and learn:
  • Why the customer is the car in Formula One ABM
  • Common misconceptions about ABM
  • How ABM can drive customer expansion
  • Christian's greatest ABM learning
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Formula One ABM

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) – Well today, I'm joined by Christian Weiss, who's the Director of ABM at Autodesk. Christian, thanks so much for joining us today. 

Christian Weiss (Autodesk) – Thank you very much Declan for having me. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Well, great. Well, we're going to talk a little bit about Account-based Marketing and the ins and outs of kind of that as a go-to-market strategy. I think the first thing when we were talking about this interview a little while ago, actually, and kind of learning a bit more about Autodesk and what you do, one thing that struck me was you said that there's been quite a big go-to-market transition that's been taking place over the last few years at Autodesk – that you've gone from selling software through resellers to actually selling it now as a subscription model. So this subscription model obviously comes with a number of challenges. Can you elaborate a little bit more on that? 

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Christian (Autodesk) – Yes, of course. So traditionally, Autodesk is a provider for design software for engineers, for designers, for architects and so on. And we have traditionally sold these solutions, you might know, AutoCAD is one of the best known solutions. We have sold them through resellers, and we, at the end, counted revenue and how many licenses we have sold over time and then a quarter. 

And with the transition to a Software as a Service model, into a subscription model, we had, of course, the risk that customers might purchase software and then not use it, or drop out of their subscription contract over time, which would create an enormous churn. And we would have lost or lose constantly users or customers with that. 

So the approach was, okay, how can we make sure that most of our customers stick in these subscription contracts or in this Software as a Service model so that they use the software, they're happy with it, use more software, and we can upsell instead of acquiring constantly new customers, which would be too much effort, right? 

So then the beginning of it was basically to say that we do ABSM (Account-based Sales and Marketing) because Sales had to change their approach as well. We could not just ask resellers to sell more. We had to understand our customers and learn about them, about their behavior and everything to sell over time and have a strong customer retention with that. 

Another topic is, of course, when you want to enter workflows instead of a single product use, then you have to understand your customers as well. You have to understand, is my workflow I'm offering to them, is it relevant for them? Is it critical for them? Is it maybe business critical? And when it's business critical, then the relationship changes. You cannot keep this customer anonymous. You have to talk to them on all levels in their organization as well. 

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Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah. And I think it's interesting what you're saying there, because of the sophistication of Autodesk, that you're obviously a huge company, you're also A) bringing out new solutions all the time, and B) you're also buying new companies, which is bringing new solutions to the market. 

ABM is a perfect play really, to help you penetrate your customers, get to know your customers really well and be that kind of advisor to your customer to say, “hey, we've got a new solution, or we've just acquired a new company and we really think that this new solution that we can bring to the market can really help you make all the difference”, right? 

Christian (Autodesk) – Exactly, and that changes the thinking from the funnel, a classic funnel to say, okay, this is what we have. You might be interested and now purchase, and if not, you get 10% off. This is not building a strong relationship. 

And especially the larger the accounts are, the more this personal relationship is helping us to understand our customers best and have a fitting offer, and of course, fitting investments inside the company as well. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Absolutely, absolutely. So let's just dig a little bit deeper then Christian, into the ABM strategy you're running there at Autodesk. Can you paint a picture for us a little bit about who, I dunno, who do you target, what does your team look like there, and perhaps what kind of programs you run? 

Christian (Autodesk) – Yeah, so at Autodesk, we have Account-based Marketing now in the fifth year. And it's basically aligned with how our Sales organization is structured. And here we have named accounts for enterprises. And I'm using the numbers we have in Europe right now, which is in the hundreds of accounts. 

But then we have mid-market or the medium size companies. They are in also some thousand already, maybe 2,000 or a bit more. And then we have a strategic territory, which is of course doing ABM methods at scale but mainly with One-to-many. 

The approach we have is in named accounts, of course these accounts are large enterprises and you cannot just run every account with a One-to-many, one-size-fits-all strategy, but you cannot also, there are still too many accounts to run a One-to-one with each account. So we have to find a good balance in prioritizing and aligning with Sales strictly on that, but also serving the accounts based on what we have as plans with them. 

If we want to grow five times in revenue with these accounts, you cannot just send them some EDMs or emails and a white paper and expect that they are freaking out with happiness and want to purchase everything we offer to them. So it's a different level of relationship.

The organization is basically also aligned with their regional coverage. So our Sales organization, especially mid-market, is regionally organized. So each Marketer in the mid-market team is aligned with a Sales team which covers a region. And each Sales rep in this region has then a group of 30 to 40 accounts to serve. 

In named accounts, it's different. They have like three to four accounts or a similar account when they are in our high growth segment. So there's, of course, an enormous attention, we have large Customer Success organizations, Technical Sales and so on. So this is where the ABMS, especially in the named account segment, are torn between many requests, of course, because there are lots of revenue numbers in discussion and having Marketing support or attention or not, of course is a tricky thing. 

On the other side, we have to prioritize, if not, we would just do Field Marketing for everyone. The team is organized basically in three teams, plus one single contributor. I have two teams covering mid-market. And the reason why we have so many there is just because of the size of the mid-market organization. We need one Marketer for at least one Sales team to be present and to be approachable. 

And in the named accounts team, we are also five Marketers, including a Manager. And here we have four to six, One-to-one accounts per Marketer, plus one Marketer in the team who looks in synergies. When you do a One-to-one campaign for one automotive account, you have immediately five other, or 10 other automotive accounts where a scaled approach could be used from this One-to-one approach to scale it. But originally, we use these One-to-one approaches really to go deeply into these accounts and understand them in depth, and then build a strategy in a long plan for these. 

The senior contributor in my team is also, that's a new project we have, which is Account-based Marketing for public sector. And you cannot just sell software to a public sector as a company, not company, to an audience in public sector, assuming that they decide, plan, act, discuss with use of their, like a company. 

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They have different purchase cycles, they have different decision-making cycles, and different audiences for that. And they will possibly engage with us also differently. And therefore we have one person which is clearly looking into this segment, working super close with Sales and make sure that we approach these audiences as they deserve it. 

What we also have, which is not in my team, is an ABM practice team. And this ABM practice team makes sure that, whenever we have something to execute at scale, we use this ABM practice team to help us focusing on One-to-few and One-to-one and not being busy on the big scaled activities, because sometimes it's just effort to move it from one language to the other and without adding additional value in our team. So in total, it's... 

Declan (strategicabm) – Just two points to... Yeah, so just to pick up on two points, I think you mentioned there Christian, which I thought was interesting. Number one, you said that there's about five to six, One-to-one accounts per ABMer, which I think you might have done a post or something on that recently around that kind of conversation about what's the ideal number of accounts to have at One-to-one level. What's your take now on that? Do you think five to six is probably the right number, the optimum number? 

Christian (Autodesk) – That is a very good comment on this because I made this post, of course, also to get confirmation from outside. Sometimes you are planning and discussing and whatever with your own colleagues or with yourself. When I'm running outside, and I'm thinking about how to optimize the setup we do. 

But sometimes the world outside has turned quicker than what we do, and has maybe already developed a standard. And so the majority of my peers outside confirmed that approximately three to five accounts is a good measure. Of course it depends how deep do you want to go, how big is your account team? When you are working with a 50-person account team and a highly complex plan, then it's difficult to do that five times because it's always a different account team. 

And therefore we said, okay, when my peers outside confirm five accounts are the right measure, then let's start with that and prove that's the right number, or it's not the right number, but then at least we started and we are not completely on an island with that idea. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's a fair answer. And I think I might have added a comment to your LinkedIn post about that as well. And I think we had the same conversation around the complexity of the account would dictate. 

And the second thing that you just mentioned there, which I thought was interesting was you mentioned languages. How many languages are you running ABM programs in? 

Christian (Autodesk) – So it's depending from the team. Of course, we try to deliver in the Nordics countries in English, wherever possible, but we have English, French, German, Italian, in Middle East we have sometimes Arabic or English, Polish, and sometimes these campaigns are even further, or activities are further localized in other regions.

It's good and bad. On one side, when you have a team of 16 people and they are busy with localizing like mad, then it's a waste of time. On the other side, if you want to be relevant for your customers, you have to speak their language in two ways. One is their real language, and the other one is you have to show them that you understand them. And if you approach your customers in a language they are not used to, then they might not appreciate how you share content with them. 

So language is key, it's a big factor. And of course, it's a disadvantage compared to my colleagues in the Americas who have one language but maybe other challenges. But in Europe, this is one of our key challenges. 

What we are doing right now is we are trying to develop and execute independent from a region. For example, we have an audience build out of utilities companies, and we picked them by decent criteria. And these are just 20 to 30 accounts across Europe. But then you have two accounts in France, one account in Spain, 10 accounts in England and furthermore. And in this case, it's very difficult to sell to your team that it's still worth it, localizing it for two accounts. 

On the other side, you have to be relevant. You cannot send an English speaking marketing campaign, even if it's account-based, to a French company and say, "Hey, we understand you." That might not work. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Particularly not to... I mean, I've done a lot of marketing over the years in international marketing, and yeah, having to localize everything into, particularly I did a lot of localization into German, into French, particularly and Spanish. And yeah, I think if you go the extra mile, people will really appreciate it and they'll respond better as well. 

And obviously, if your team then is also made up, yeah, yeah, and I think also, Christian, if your team is also made up of international ABMers, who've got that linguistic competency as well, that gives you that edge over perhaps other companies that are treating everyone with the one-size-fits-all. 

So Christian, one thing that you said to me before, when we were chatting prior to the recording was you said that the customer is the Formula One car, which kind of grabbed my attention, really. What did you mean by that? 

Christian (Autodesk) – I was in many Sales meetings, of course ABM is very close to Sales. And I was invited in meetings who were then over time called 'pit crew' meetings. And I understand the approach that we all group around a challenge and a topic, and then solve the topic and go to the customer. 

But my observation was that we, in many cases, worked to equip the Sales rep to work with the customer instead of looking into the customer. And therefore, my question, my challenging question was often, is the pit crew meeting meant to put the Sales rep in the driver's seat, or do we have the pit crew meeting to put the customer in the center? 

And from my point of view, if you put the Sales rep in the center you're jumping too short. We are equipping the Sales rep, but we are not altogether looking into the account and saying, what is the actual challenge? What do we want to solve? Is that a Marketing task or not? It could be that there are major challenges, but it's not a Marketing job at the moment. It could be maybe earlier or later. 

And therefore I'm always insisting in putting the customer at the center. And when you have this picture of a Formula One car at the pit stop, and you see how prepared everyone is and how they are on the point ready when the needs are in the peak for the driver. Then I think it's a perfect picture, but you have to put the customer in this stage. 

What I also learned in this case is that it's risky that we are, as a Marketer, trying to serve Sales with all the requests and needs they have, because then you're normally in the trap of serving short term needs, instead of following a strategic plan. And the strategic plan is to win the race, and the strategic plan is not to change a tire. 

And in this case, I think we have to remind ourselves also, it's an entire race with a customer or a customer life cycle. We are not just fixing a short-term issue, which keeps us normally busy like hell, these short term things. And we feel good because we get immediate appreciation from Sales. But we are not helping the customer to win the race. 

Declan (strategicabm) – I think that's excellent. And that also, it reminds me of a previous guest on Let's talk ABM, Keith Pranghofer, who's doing ABM at Microsoft. And he was saying something quite similar. He says, how come when we talk about ABM, we talk about accounts, we talk about prospects, and we talk about Sales, but we don't talk enough about the customer. 

And he's very kind of customer obsessed and believes that everything that should be done in ABM should have the customer at the absolute center of it and not, as you said, not have Sales at the center. Sales is an important part clearly of ABM, but it's all about what you do to change the customer, or to help the customer, or to make the customer more efficient, more effective, more profitable, more competitive, et cetera, et cetera. 

So let's just talk about Sales actually. Another thing you mentioned to me which kind of struck a chord was you said that, when you're building a very strong relationship with Sales, you used the term 'vulnerability-based trust'. So tell me more, what do you mean by vulnerability-based trust? 

Christian (Autodesk) – That's a term which I learned from a training which is called, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. And you have whatever level of collaboration. And, of course, you are all trying to reach the peak of the mountain. 

But if you have no vulnerability-based trust, so a trust where you can be yourself in the meeting, in the Sales meeting or in the meeting of the account team, and when you can share weakness and you can say, sorry, that didn't work. We need to work on this, can you help me? And likewise, on Sales side, when Sales says, we have a pipeline gap but we need help. Or can you make an example how to approach the customer better than we do right now and show weakness. Then we can talk a lot about trust, but it's at the end, not on that intensive level than vulnerability-based trust. 

And we had this, by the way, in a nice leadership meeting, we had a meeting with five-six Sales leaders including myself, and we said, "Okay, how can we work together so that it's not just helping us to achieve our goals, but go beyond?" And going beyond means we have to jointly jump far higher than what we normally do. And in this case, we need this level of trust. 

So we had a wall, and on this wall we put post-its. And for each segment, one was Marketing or ABM, one was Inside Sales, and one was our mid-market Sales. And it was fully allowed to share everything we think about each other, which was frustrating, entertaining, funny, surprising that, say things, talk about us in a way where we would never describe ourselves like this and vice versa. 

And that helped us to say, okay, we have to fix this, and we have to fix this first to achieve a higher level. And now we are meeting regularly and saying, okay, let's build this engine of working together and agree on joint goals instead of saying, yeah, I'm working on my goals, but Marketing is not helping me, or I'm working on these goals, but I'm between Sales and Marketing and nothing happens. 

So we said, okay, how can we make sure we are really on shared goals? And this requires of course, full transparency and high trust level.

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Declan (strategicabm) – I think that's... 

Christian (Autodesk) – But it was a very interesting learning. It was a very interesting... 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah, I can imagine, I can imagine. No, no, Christian. I can imagine the wall and how, 'cause I used to work in Sales before, and I can really kind of empathize with what they're trying to achieve, and I can also empathize with how sometimes they can be frustrated with Marketing and Marketing's approach. And that's why I think ABM makes everything a lot more unified. 

And I kind of always see that Account-based Marketing it's probably one of the greatest unifiers of Sales and Marketing when it's done well, because it kind of centers everyone and focuses everyone's minds on accounts, and the language of accounts is the language of Sales. 

So question for you, Christian. Obviously ABM has several different use cases in how it's deployed. A lot of people see ABM as being all about new logo acquisition. But those of us who know about the origins of ABM, the origins of ABM was actually much more in growing existing customers. 

So I know you're working on something there in this area around growing existing customers with ABM and obviously trying expand these large enterprise clients that you have. Is there anything you can share with us around how you use ABM to grow existing customers? 

Christian (Autodesk) – That's also very aligned with our Sales organization, where we have a dedicated team for expansion already. And also we have a set of accounts where we say they are high-growth accounts. And these high-growth accounts are very good example of, if we continue selling as we did in the past, we will not achieve the major growth goals on one side. And on the other side, these accounts with their expansion plans that didn't help in the past. 

So we have to find new methods. And from a Marketing point of view, it's very interesting if we look into this account when we talk to Sales, or when we talk and maybe look in our dashboards and in our insights, in our analytics. And sometimes we are asking ourselves, okay, why are we not growing in the next segment, in the next segment we could sell to? 

Then we figure out, hey, we don't even understand the account there, we don't understand how their decision-making structure is. We have maybe not enough marketable context, very simple. 

That's one that was basic, by the way, one of the first things I did when I took over the ABM team, I downloaded all the marketable contacts we had and I looked into their job title and their hierarchy level. And I think many of my ABM peers outside would agree, and most, by far, most of the contacts had no real information behind. 

And when we look into these large enterprises and talk about buying committees, these buying committees, they are changing by topic. So it's like, "Where's Wally?", or how do we call it in these pictures? Finding Wally, or "Where's Wally?". And this is exactly what we have to do when we go into these large enterprises. 

Who is influencing the decision? Who is just using the software? Who makes the decision finally? So legal, whatever, everyone is involved somehow. But when the topic changes from whatever, design to 3D printing, or to workflows, or product life cycle management, the purchasing committee is changing. And that means we have to have a very intense exchange of information, inside the company, but also with the customer. And that makes ABM, from my point of view, business-critical for the success of this approach of growing inside these customers. 

So this "Where's Wally?" is one of my pictures I have on my slide decks because we have to visualize. On these "Wheres Wally?" pictures, there are maybe 200 people. And we are talking about customers with 100,000 employees, 200,000 employees or more. And not everything is in our database right now and in Salesforce or whatever. 

And finally, to be relevant with ABM and with an Account-based selling approach, from my point of view, in these high growth and growth accounts, we have to have a culture of documenting insights, of collecting and documenting insights I have about this account. 

And my colleagues in ABM, they might approve this maybe, but we have information on paper, inward, on PowerPoint, on Excel, we have it in full text somewhere in Salesforce, but there is no real culture of, this person could be relevant for the future. I need to document this person with their role and their preferences and everything so that Marketing can finally reach out to that person when maybe Sales is not talking to them at the same moment. 

So even if we engage on these famous 80% before someone wants to talk to Sales, we can engage with those people who might be relevant when it comes to a sales conversation later. 

So I think this data capture is not just something we do technically when we send out an email and see, okay, that person clicked. Or we advertise something on LinkedIn, and then someone click through. It's very technical, but on the other side, we have to know which humans in these accounts are making decisions or influencing them. So in this case… 

Declan (strategicabm) – I think that's a very good point, Christian. Yeah. Yeah, I think it's a very good point. And I think the insights work you said as well, I think is absolutely critical and capturing the data in a very live fashion is really important. 

And I think a lot of it, kind of think about some of the clients that we work with, the insights can really influence, an awful lot of the program that you end up doing, the messaging, the value proposition, the campaign you actually design, those insights can really make a huge amount of difference. 

So let me ask you a question about scaling in ABM. Do you see ABM as something that you can scale or not? 

Christian (Autodesk) – So, we are scaling of course, and we have to scale because the number of accounts and the size of our Sales teams require us to scale. But the risk that you are on one side scaling your ABM to death is enormously high. 

It hits us every day that you try to reach too many accounts with at the end a non-relevant message, or a non-account-based message. And on the other side that you are serving customers or accounts with high end ABM but you leave everyone else alone and behind. 

This risk is enormous. And I think we can scale ABM if we do it wisely and if we select the accounts wisely. But you cannot scale ABM to a level where you say I'm doing ABM for every account. You have to cover all accounts, but real ABM can just be done by a small number of accounts. 

You can apply ABM methods to a larger scale of accounts, but I think when you already talk about One-to-many, it's maybe a set of accounts you do marketing for, but it's very little ABM as we know it. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah. So that might be the answer Christian to my next question around misconceptions of ABM. What do you think is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions that you hear out there about ABM? 

Christian (Autodesk) – Yeah, so I agree, one could be the misconception that you can do ABM for every single customer you have. And I think I can blame myself with that as well. Because when I started with announcing ABM, basically in one of these Sales quarterly meetings, I was standing there and saying, "Okay, in the future, we are fishing with a spear, not with a net. And we do Customer-specific Marketing for all your accounts and we have just begun." 

And then the Sales leader, he raised his hand and said, "What does ABSM mean? Is it another bullshit in Marketing?" So they just thought, okay, that's just the next method we are driving through the valley, but not really something sustainable. 

And I think I was driving this misconception also with overpromising ABM without appreciating that a team of 16 people cannot deliver this to hundreds of accounts. So at the end, my team was many times, also really clearly overworked with all the demand we got then from Sales because we solved it as ABM. And that caused a lot of issues. 

Now we are getting back and strictly, strictly prioritized and do that in alignment with Sales to avoid these misconceptions. The other misconception I always see is that by selling ABM as a method which increases the value of the customer for us and our value for the customer creates a misconception that there is, in this quarter and the next quarter, immediately a bigger pipeline of course because we deliver more leads and everything. 

So this misconception of, there's immediately a positive result is a killer for the relationship between Marketing and Sales, and also for the ABM we are doing because then you do a lot of transactional Marketing but not in terms of building a relationship and optimizing our reputation with the customer. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, and I think that point you just made there, I think it's really interesting. And I think one of the key jobs that we have to do as Marketers and ABMers is we've got to map out the journey and explain very clearly and be very transparent about what the journey looks like to the wider organization, to the C-suite, to the investors, to the Board, to the Heads of Sales, that this is not an overnight miracle, this is not something that you're going to wake up tomorrow morning and your inbox is going to be full of orders. 

This is something that takes time and you need everyone to be with you on that journey. And I think ABM needs us to be good, or to be great communicators. And I think that's something that isn't necessarily always something that Marketers are always renowned for as being great internal communicators. Perhaps externally yes, but not necessarily internally, right?

Christian (Autodesk) – Yeah, and I think in many cases it has also to do with our Marketing 'arrogance' in front of Sales and vice versa. That we say, yeah, sorry, you might not get it, but we do something great. At the end, we have to also be, not just good communicators to the customer, but also to Sales. 

When we speak Marketing with Sales, of course, it's difficult to understand. When we speak sales with Sales, which means I can prove what I do, then I think we can also build a better trust level than just saying, okay yeah, you might not get it, but yeah, ABM is great. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah. I agree, that's interesting. And I like the way you've phrased that. So I think everybody who has their own domain, they like to believe that they know best. And I think a little bit of humility is a very good thing to have in any discipline, in any domain, and definitely now us, when we're working with other departments. 

Let's have some quick rapid fire questions to see whether, just to finish up with that. We were talking about misconceptions actually. So the question around Demand Generation and ABM gets picked up very often and people talk about them, they mix them up. They say one is the same as the other, et cetera. But some very quick, quick questions for you. What do you think separates Demand Gen from ABM? 

Christian (Autodesk) – So that's a difficult question because I'm in the Demand Gen organization. So we are all doing Demand Generation at Autodesk. And I think that that is good as it is because ultimately we create demand, but it's a relationship and engagement-based creation of demand and less transactional. 

But what we did in the past, or what we also do still, is what we call Field Marketing, or maybe what others might call Demand Generation. I think the quality lies in the coexisting of both. And there is no Marketing without Demand Generation, and there is no good Marketing for enterprises without ABM. 

And we can, and we do, combine lots of activities jointly where we say, I'm organizing this event, bring your accounts because it makes sense. And on the other side, if Demand Generation organizes a trade show and we say, oh, sorry, we are accounts, not mass marketing so you do it by yourself. Then we can also collaborate here and create high value meetings, for example, just talking about events. 

But the coexistence of both organizations make the quality. I think, Account-based for everything and everywhere and whatever dilutes it. And if you do just Field Marketing, you're not appreciating your customers well enough and their needs. 

 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yes. And do you perhaps see Demand Gen as being much more above the funnel, or even top of the funnel and the Account-based Marketing being the full funnel. Do you see that kind of definition or not necessarily? 

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Christian (Autodesk) – I see that often, also in Autodesk I see that from time to time that Demand Generation starts with the funnel, and then we go a bit closer with the higher engaged accounts, for example. So then ABM is a method which steps in for the higher engaged accounts. 

What I'm trying to do is, I pick those accounts for ABM, which are not engaged and where we have a very small footprint and no pipeline, because this is where I can show that we make a difference or can prove it. 

What we also do is, when we do One-to-one ABM, we include brand for example, to help us in the first stages. And then we go more and more specific a bit later. So I think there are various methods. There's no one-size-fits-all. And I think as soon as we decide by the engagement level, for example, or the small or the big size of the footprint, then we quickly can decide if an ABM approach makes sense, or if it's just transactional and feed marketing runs it through. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, interesting take there, okay. So, let's just, a couple questions to finish off with now. So a lot of people talk about ABM as being a journey, which we mentioned earlier, and obviously when you have a journey you have your ups and down, you take right turn or a wrong turn, et cetera, you get a flat tire or whatever. But what do you think in your time, Christian, what's been your greatest learning from your ABM journey? 

Christian (Autodesk) – My greatest learning was, you cannot do ABM without good data, and you have to be able to measure success and you have to define it in the beginning. 

Another learning was, you have to have joint goals with Sales. If you just come around and say, "Let me do these five nice things with your customers." Then Sales says, "Nice, thank you very much." And they turn around and do something different, then the quality of ABM is in the lockstep. 

And finally, I think my biggest learning is you cannot do ABM for everyone on the same level. So if you don't strictly prioritize, you might fail as well because your Marketers will freak out. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. And very, very good. I mean, I asked for one, and you gave me three greatest learnings. So I've got three for the price one. So thank you there Christian. Two last questions for you. What do you think the hardest part of ABM is? 

Christian (Autodesk) – Fix your data first. Sounds easy, but it's not. And yeah, aligning then with Sales, you get another one for free. Sales alignment sounds also easy. And you get quick appreciation maybe because you spend a lot of attention to Sales, but this alignment ends up in, you have to reconfirm what ABM is every year again. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Good point, so basically get your data right and data is obviously key to any ABM program. And secondly, work hard to align with your Sales colleagues and that will help to build on success. 

And then final question for you. Okay, so Christian, it's a Friday evening, you're down there in Munich, you've got some beautiful mountains behind your house. You think about popping up and enjoying yourself, or having a glass of wine. And suddenly a colleague calls and say, "Hey, Christian, I've been asked to present an ABM strategy on Monday morning." What's that one piece of advice you give them for them to take it to that presentation on the Monday morning? 

Christian (Autodesk) – That's a tricky question, maybe you get one only. I think ABM is a strategic approach. It's part of every definition, but it's also very hard thing to do because we are all Sales and Marketing very quickly in a solution mode. And we have to have the ultimate goal and the customer in the center. 

Declan (strategicabm) – So think about the strategy, get the customer in the center, and don't forget about the customer basically. 

Christian (Autodesk) – Exactly, and align with Sales. If you don't do this, forget it. 

Declan (strategicabm) – Yeah. And make sure it's Sales aligned. Okay, great. Christian, great advice to finish off on. Thank you so much for sharing your ABM journey today, and all the very best to you and the whole team there at Autodesk for the future. 

Christian (Autodesk) – Thank you very much, and thanks for the time.

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