strategicabm

Moving from ABM to ABX

In this episode of Let's Talk ABM, we speak to Jennifer Leaver, Senior Marketing Manager at Bazaarvoice, discussing the key building blocks of a successful ABM strategy and how to measure ABM ROI.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-03-25 strategicabm 550 60

Jennifer Leaver
Global ABM Strategist, Bazaarvoice

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Jennifer Leaver is an Account-based Marketing thought leader and practitioner with more than 10 years’ experience of running ABM programs. She currently leads the ABM strategy at Bazaarvoice, a leading technology company.  She is an active member of the PEAK community and co-leads an Advanced ABM practitioners circle.

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 Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.


Watch this webinar and learn: 

  • How to get started with ABM
  • The key building blocks of a successful ABM strategy
  • How Bazaarvoice measure ABM ROI
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
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Moving from ABM to ABX

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Jennifer Lever who's Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice. Jennifer. Thank you for joining us today.

Jennifer Lever (Bazaarvoice) - Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Declan (strategicabm)- So let's just start off, Jennifer, let's talk a little bit about Bazaarvoice, the company, and why you thought that ABM was the right strategy to implement there.

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, that's a great question. I came on board at Bazaarvoice early last year and they had done ABM in the past, but it was very ad hoc. And the challenge that we have at Bazaarvoice, because of the type of business we are - we are a software company that provides the technology for brands to be able to showcase ratings and reviews on their websites, connecting consumers with user-generated content to help give them that confidence to make that purchase online. 

And then we also help brands syndicate that user-generated content across all of their e-comm sites and also their retailer partners. And then with our recent acquisition, we're now also offering visual and social commerce software in addition to content acquisition programs like sampling and things of that nature for brands to be able to collect more of that user-generated content to use across their sites. 

So because we have such a huge portfolio of offerings, it was really tricky in terms of what was the right direction, what was the right message to put in place. That message doesn't necessarily apply to all of the brands that we are working with. 

And so, when I came on board, we had a really, really awesome Demand Gen team, but they were missing that additional level of personalization and really tapping into more of those One-to-few, One-to-one strategic approaches with our target accounts.

In fact, a target account list was really not even a thing before I came on board. There were target account lists floating around, but it wasn't anything that the Demand Gen team was actually acting on.

 So when I came on board, my job was to really kind of redefine and re-educate the team on what Account-based Marketing was and then build what that program looked like from the ground up. 

And for me, I just felt like ABM was the right direction for us to go in because right now - in years past, ABM has been very much a buzzword and then it's turned into a nice-to-have for organizations to start to tap into. 

But I think the future is that it's going to be a must-have for any solid enterprise company's go-to-market strategy. So having the opportunity to be able to come in and build that from the ground up at Bazaarvoice has been a really, really amazing experience.

Declan (strategicabm) - And in the early days of the ABM program there, you talked about adopting a kind of a 'crawl, walk, run' approach. Can you talk us through what that was and what you learned from that approach?

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, so because ABM had been done in the past, but like I said, it was very ad hoc, it was really more around launching a single campaign around a new product release, it was very manual. 

And so, Sales didn't really have a good understanding of what that meant. Marketing wanted to do it, but they didn't really know how to report on it or what a fully well baked out plan was going to entail. 

So what I did is we partnered with a company to be able to provide intent and engagement data to help fuel our marketing campaigns. And that data also is extremely useful in enabling our Sales teams to understand those earlier buying signals within target accounts, reaching out at the right time with the right message. 

And because that was a new tool in their toolkit, what we wanted to do first was test that data out with a small pilot team to really understand, okay, how is this going to help move the needle forward for sales? What is their feedback? And then how can we take that intent and engagement data and build out playbooks for each team? 

So we started working with a very small group of Sales folks, there are about 15 on the team. Because we are a global organization, we have around 200 Sales and CS people across the globe. 

So releasing intent and engagement data without pressure testing it first was not going to be the best way to move forward, so we wanted to test it with that smaller group first. 

And from that, we were able to really get that inside look into how Sales could leverage this and then build out playbooks for Sales by Sales and also our CS team to help enable and support that wider rollout.

Declan (strategicabm) - You talk about, sorry, go ahead.

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - No, go ahead.

Declan (strategicabm) - So if we talk a little bit about the - my understanding is that you started there with a One-to-many program and now over the course of the last 12 months or so you've been moving towards a One-to-few and a One-to-one. 

What type of accounts warrant a One-to-one approach, in your opinion?

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - So I feel like when we use the One-to-one strategy, we typically use those for existing enterprise accounts. 

Because in my mind, those are the ones that present the best opportunities for growth, they're existing clients. And when you look at an enterprise account that is potentially a 'house of brands' or 'branded house', there's a lot of opportunity to further upsell and cross-sell and build those relationships within those sub-brands within those accounts. 

And so to me that was kind of the lower hanging fruit rather than going after net new logos. 

I've also found that because our Sales team has established relationships with those enterprise accounts, we spend a lot more in terms of our marketing dollars that we put behind to support Sales, because those relationships are already there as opposed to going after net new logos.

Declan (strategicabm) - So, Jennifer, what perhaps surprised you most in that kind of move from One-to-many through to One-to-few and One-to-one? What kind of things have you learned that have surprised you most in that kind of implementation?

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - I don't know if I've necessarily been surprised, but I definitely have some words of advice for folks that are moving from that One-to-many to One-to-one. 

I think first and foremost, leverage your Account teams. 

A lot of times when Marketing comes into ABM and they're working with the Sales team to build out what that strategy is going to look like, save yourself the time of doing a lot of the guessing of what actually matters within the account and where those opportunities are, and leverage that Account team that you have and their experiences and their relationship with the account to pull those insights out. 

Because those insights are going to help guide your content strategy, which is my second piece of advice. 

When you're going into that One-to-one approach, content and that personalized experience is key. And when I say personalized content or personalized experiences, it's not just throwing somebody's logo onto a landing page or into an existing eBook. It's really taking a look at that content that you have in that eBook and tailoring it to speak to those challenges and those opportunities that you have within those accounts and make it as personalized as possible. 

So really more so advice than any surprises along the way. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And you touched on earlier actually, Jennifer, the importance of the whole Sales and Marketing alignment there. I think you are of the same opinion as me that ABM will fail without that alignment, without that buy-in from Sales. 

What have you learned there in terms of working with the Sales team and what do you take away from the experience of the last 12 months getting the Sales team there on board with your ABM program? 

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, I mean, I think that the pilot program was a great way to introduce what ABM is all about, testing it out with that smaller group before rolling it out to the wider team. 

We have monthly ongoing stints with Sales leadership because I really feel that when you have that support from the top and they're pushing it down to their teams, that's where you're going to start to see more adoption across the board. 

We've also done a lot of work working with our SDR team as well. So not only working from the top-down but from the bottom-up and really enabling them around intent and engagement data and using that as our soft intro into Account-based Marketing, and then making sure that the team has training and resources available for them to tap into. 

Anytime you introduce a new tool or technology into a Sales person's toolkit, they are already leveraging so many different data pieces and going to so many different places to get the information they need to actually go after accounts. 

So, having as much of that live within a centralized source of truth is key. 

And then making sure that you have workflows or playbooks that they can leverage along the way as it pertains to their role. Because even when you look at a CSD versus an AE versus an SDR, they're going to be leveraging those tools in very different ways. 

So making sure that you tailor it to those teams. 

And then in terms of lessons learned, make sure that your enablement is actionable for your Sales team. Celebrate the small wins along the way as well. 

I mean, ABM is definitely more of a long term play. And so sometimes it takes a while to show how it's affecting more of those down-funnel business outcomes. So celebrate those early wins, showcase meetings increasing, net new contacts that are valuable stakeholders within those accounts, starting to be a part of conversations, more opportunities being created. 

And then that will slowly translate into some of those other metrics, like deal size, deal velocity, and things of that nature. 

And then make sure that Sales feels like they have a seat at the table and they understand the value that they bring to the strategy, because again, Account-based Marketing and what I'm starting to actually call it is not ABM but ABX, because it's more than just marketing, it's Marketing, it's Sales, it's CS, it's the full experience that you're putting these accounts through.

So making sure that the Sales team and the CS team understand what their role is and the value that they bring and that they have a voice to help push that strategy forward I think is really, really important. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I think I definitely concur there and we've definitely seen that creating shared playbooks, campaign playbooks, account playbooks, giving the Sales teams as much information as you can around why you're doing it, what's involved, what the ABM program looks like, what is their role?And I think kind of bringing that team together as one team I think is absolutely crucial. 

You've touched actually, Jennifer, on two or three things there, which actually tie in nicely to the next question around ROI and ABM. And this is, obviously a lot of people are looking to measure this as effectively as possible, particularly as ABM is becoming more and more prevalent and more and more common within the kind of B2B marketing toolkit. 

You've obviously developed a framework there at Bazaarvoice that you use to measure the Return on Investment. Can you talk us through a little bit what that potentially looks like?

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, so it has been challenging to truly report on ABM's influence through our marketing campaigns and how that's affecting accounts through the sales funnel, because our company right now is built on a marketing source attribution model and ABM is very much an influence-based model because ABM campaigns do not stop after an account MQAs or a contact MQLs, right? 

So we're following these accounts all the way through the sales funnel. And post-MQL it's very hard sometimes to attribute that influence after the opportunity has been created. And so what we're starting to move into is more of that influence-based model. 

But in the meantime, what we have been able to show is we've done a lot of A/B testing amongst control groups. 

So we'll take a list of our target accounts, say it's in a particular industry, and we'll suppress lookalike accounts that are in that same industry and then gauge what does our website lift look like amongst accounts that have seen our ads and been in our campaigns versus those lookalike accounts that have not. 

How does that translate into opportunities being created, overall pipeline dollars. Are we seeing our average deal size within those accounts that are seeing our campaigns increase, versus those that aren't? 

Same thing with deal velocity, we're starting to see that the number of days decrease as those deals move forward. And then what does our win rate look like? What does that percentage drill down to? 

And I think being able to show that apples to apples comparison and showing that control group and how our campaigns can affect the full sales cycle has been extremely important in showing success there. 

In terms of frequency, we report on everything monthly and then we do quarterly QBRs. So we want to make sure that we're not just looking at it from month to month, but also looking at it as a quarter and then looking at it on what we are projecting we can achieve going into the next quarter. 

So over the past year, it's really been about creating that foundation for reporting. And now we're looking at that and creating what our benchmarks should be going forward and starting to forecast what our impact can be going into 2021. 

Declan (strategicabm)- And what's been the result in terms of the impact on the wider organization and up to the C-suite, what's been the reaction to the ABM program and the success of them?

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - We've actually had a lot of buzz start around ABM. 

So with our One-to-one campaign and our One-to-few campaigns, we're again testing that out with a very small group of Sales folks and just having their involvement and them advocating for the program is getting more people on the Sales team eager and ready to get their hands dirty with ABM. 

It's almost creating that sense of FOMO, if you will. Well, if they're doing something really targeted and personalized and they're having like a basically a dedicated Marketing person help push their deals forward, I want that too. I want custom content. I want custom content experiences and display ads going out to my target accounts. 

So it's creating that buzz, it's creating that excitement and getting more people on board with it. 

And then just in terms of the results that we're seeing, I mean, there's a clear impact that we're seeing not only just with our target accounts being more aware, but also our target accounts being more engaged with us, how that's translating not only to their activity on our website, but also their interactions with our Sales teams.

So the proof is in the pudding, really. And I think what's also important to note is what we're spending on the ABM front is a fraction of what we're spending in some of our other Demand Gen programs. 

And I think that that's key too, showing the impact that you can have while spending less money to get you to that result. 

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, and if we look forward now to this year of 2021, we're now into March, what does 2021 look like for the ABM program there at Bazaarvoice? 

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, so definitely moving more into One-to-one and One-to-few programs while also having the One-to-many programs live in the background. 

I think that as you mature your ABM strategy, being able to be in each one of those buckets or even having a combination of those buckets is going to be key. 

Building out our ABM team within Marketing, so having more support under me around sales enablement, campaign enablement, things of that nature. Like I mentioned earlier, moving more into that influence-based model for reporting. 

Right now we are reporting on MQAs, but we're moving into looking at more of an MQA model while still working the MQLs that come through from events and webinars and things of that nature, but just treating those a little bit differently. 

And then we're also talking about potentially making a shift of having a few SDRs sit on the Marketing team to help support Demand Gen efforts with inbound leads a little bit differently than we have been in the past. 

So there are a lot of long term plays in place, but more or less definitely moving forward with how we continue to expand and grow this program across the globe. 

Declan (strategicabm) - And just finally, I think you touched on a couple of pieces of advice earlier, but what advice would you give to any company who is either looking to start their ABM journey or they've started and they're just kind of looking to see whether they're doing it right, looking to kind of avoid any challenges, any hurdles, what kind of advice would you give any company out there? 

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Yeah, so I think definitely starting with that ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach is key. Work your way up to the larger fish as your program continues to mature. 

Leverage the Sales team to build that advocacy internally, I think that that is key. 

And celebrating those small milestones along the way. 

Like I mentioned, ABM is a long term approach to activating these target accounts. And sometimes it takes a while to actually see the fruits of your labor at the end. And so being able to show those smaller milestones I think is really important. 

Like I mentioned, making sure that when you are enabling the Sales team, that you're making those tools actionable for Sales. They don't care about the campaigns that you have in market. They could care less about the display messaging you have or the LinkedIn message you have. 

They want to know how that's helping accelerate their conversations forward, open the door for more opportunities and then what those results actually look like. 

And making sure that you're starting to build a solid tech stack to support your programs as well so you can enable and engage with your Sales team in the right ways. And you don't have to have a large budget, like I said, to do Account-based Marketing. I think if you're smart and you pull the right levers within your tech stack, you leverage the right people on your Marketing team and through Sales, you can accomplish a lot without a large budget. 

And then like I mentioned earlier, referring to Account-based Marketing as ABX because it's more than just Marketing. And I think if you're really trying to foster and create that one team mentality, looking at it through that lens of how Sales and CS is also contributing to that strategy, I think is key.

Declan (strategicabm) - Excellent advice, Jennifer. Jennifer, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. It's great to learn more about the ABM program there, and we wish you every success for the future.

Jennifer (Bazaarvoice) - Thank you so much for having me.

Declan (strategicabm) - Thanks, Jennifer.