ABM Playbook

Personalizing ABM at scale

In this episode of Let's talk ABM, we speak to Hillary Carpio, Director of ABM at Snowflake, about how to scale personalization for ABM and why Sales alignment is so important.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-11-10 strategicabm 550 60

Hillary Lupo Carpio
Director of ABM | Snowflake

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Hillary leads the ABM strategy at Snowflake, the Cloud Data platform. The team runs integrated programs in target accounts with Field Marketing, Partner Marketing, Demand Gen, and Sales Development to support more than 2,000 target accounts with the industry's best hyper-personalized 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 Snowflake personalizes ABM at scale
  • Why strategy comes before technology 
  • What is the hardest part of ABM and why
  • Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
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Personalizing ABM at scale | Snowflake

The full transcript

Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - So today I'm joined by Hillary Carpio, Director of ABM at Snowflake. Hillary, thanks so much for joining us today.
Hillary Carpio (Snowflake) - Thank you for having me.

Declan (strategicabm) - So let's start off talking about Snowflake. You've seen some spectacular growth, and obviously there was a huge IPO last year. So first of all, congratulations on that growth. What do you think has been the key to this success?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, first and foremost, our founders created an incredible product. They had a vision and they executed on it flawlessly. And beyond that, we have a great leadership team up at the top led by Frank, Benoit, and Thierry. So they're really taking this company into the future and I'm happy to be a part of it and excited to be helping generate revenue and growth within the team as well.

Declan (strategicabm) - Okay, so let's talk about, you know, this is a podcast called Let's Talk ABM, so let's talk a little bit more about the ABM program that you have there. When we spoke previously, you mentioned that you had a fantastic Demand Generation team there at Snowflake, and that your job was to set up the ABM program. How do you see ABM differing from Demand Gen?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, ABM and Demand Gen, I don't see them as mutually exclusive, they're very overlapped. We sit within the Demand Gen organization. So my boss is a VP of Demand Gen and I sit alongside my counterpart who is the senior director of Demand Generation. So while she's focused on generating leads, all things lead-based and within our targeted accounts, so she focuses on our named accounts, I focus on the account level. 

So we really follow a ‘flip your funnel’ methodology to say, instead of focusing on a lead, qualifying them to see if they're worthy of following up and then trying to convert, we focus on an account that we know will have a great impact on our revenue and on our opportunity, build a sphere of influence within that account, work to convert them into an opportunity and then build a long-term relationship to cross-sell, up-sell, and drive consumption in down the road. 

So really hand in hand with our Demand Generation team. And again, I'm part of the Demand Generation function, so we're all one big family.

Declan (strategicabm) - And so would you see Demand Gen as being much, kind of, earlier in the life cycle and ABM actually being across the whole life cycle?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Depending on the organization, yes. I think the biggest difference is Demand Generation versus lead generation, right? 

Lead generation is focused on a specific individual and getting that individual into a conversation. Account-based Marketing is focused on making a marketing-qualified account as a whole, building a larger sphere of influence across multiple buying centers, multiple messages, multiple product offerings, in some cases, and then working hand in hand with the Demand Generation team to drive those converting functions within those target accounts. So really working hand in hand. It can be across the funnel with a team like ours.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, so let's dig a little bit deeper into the ABM program that you have there at Snowflake, Hillary. Can you paint us a picture of what it looks like in terms of program types, the kinds of accounts that you might target, the level of personalization, just a picture of what that looks like.

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, our team is split into two sections based off of how our Sales team is split up. And that's by majors at enterprise. Our enterprise accounts are 500 people or more, and our major accounts could be Fortune 100 to Fortune 1000. 

Those determine how we approach the accounts, right? If you're looking at an account that has 80 subsidiaries, you're going to talk to them and approach the account very differently than a smaller account that is very specific in one industry with one specific goal. 

So our team splits up our programs. We have three tiers of ABM, starting from programmatic at the bottom tier, and that's nominated by our district managers, really driven by intent. So every 8 to 12 weeks, we're going into a new set of accounts within each of the six regions that we tackle. So there'll be six in enterprise, and there will be six in majors at any given time. 

Then our next layer up is our traditional one-to-one. This level of ABM has existed in Snowflake for quite a long amount of time, and it's really driven by Sales. So it could be Sales’ top 10 accounts, it could be their top three, it could be their numbers four, five, and six, it's wherever they need help. So whether that's in a greenfield account, whether that's driving across opportunity, driving consumption, we'll help them there. 

And then we have a top tier strategic level that is a year-long program that is currently just in our majors and we'll be rolling out into our enterprise later in the year. And that one is focused for an entire year, highly, highly strategic, and that's nominated by the RVP. So they get to choose what is the must-win account, must-penetrate, 80% of those are greenfield. 

And our goal is to find a line of business and a buying opportunity. We switch every quarter trying to find that open door to get into and then make our way into the account from there. And we've seen an incredible amount of success from that program just in about the six weeks it has been live.

Declan (strategicabm) - So it almost sounds like you're running a military operation there in terms of the amount of coordination, sequencing, and orchestration. So you definitely need to have complete control over all your assets and all your team there to be able to kind of manage that kind of scale, right?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Correct. Yeah, it takes a lot of execution, and execution is the hardest part, right? We can think of strategies. We can go to a conference and say, hey, this ABM platform does everything. But when you get back, you've got to have the people on the ground all executing against the same vision. 

We have over 130 SDRs. We have over 400 Salespeople globally. We have multiple different Marketing teams and we need all of those individuals to be connected and driving a single narrative into a single account in order to make the impact. And that's where the rubber meets the road. And it's very challenging, but very successful when done well.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah. And so I believe, Hillary, that you got quite a novel large-scale ABM program there. When we were talking earlier, I think you mentioned that you were targeting 2000 accounts with a high degree of personalization. Normally people would say that you can't achieve personalization at that scale, but obviously your program begs to differ. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, I think you've got to prescribe the amount of personalization to what the account needs. So our layer where the AEs are nominating accounts, very, very boutique one-off, that's all hand-curated. So the content is hand-curated one by one based off of the conversations that reps are having within the accounts. 

Our programmatic layer also curated is just a one-to-one experience at scale. So whereas some people do one-to-many ABM and they'll segment their list of accounts and do here's a list that's a specific industry and a specific persona within the industry and we're going to send 15 accounts all to this single page. 

We're taking that concept, and upon page load dynamically updating the page using technology. So where can technology benefit us to still deliver personalized experience? And then where is the hand curation necessary? We combine those together for scale. 

So when in our programmatic program somebody lands on the page, it's being updated for that company. The CTAs are targeted to where their location is for that company. We've got content based off of their industry. We have content based off of what their existing tech stack might be. We've got all kinds of information that's really curated on demand right there for them.

Declan (strategicabm) - And does that require a significant amount of setup to get that kind of up and running, or is it relatively painless?

Hillary (Snowflake) - The technology is only as good as the information you have going into it, right? So we have a tech stack ranging from Uberflip to serve up the page, Intellimize as a layer to personalize the page, 6Sense as a layer for data, we plug Snowhouse, which is our use of our own product to pull the rest of our data together and surface it through segments in 6Sense. So it's one big machine at that level. 

But behind the scenes, we have all of our Content Marketing team and us aligned to ensure it's all tagged so that when the API shows a specific tag, we have the content to pull into it. 

And then we have a messaging matrix. We work with our Product Marketing team to say, if it's this industry, this persona, what's the message. And we have that that goes all the way from ad copy down to longer form. Same thing, we have a piece of content that updates dynamically that my team works on. We've gone through and built a matrix of if it's this competitor, if it's this tech stack, whatever it might be. 

And then we connect with our SDRs and we say, what are the sequences that you are going to run based off of this matrix? Then we can look at Demand Generation. What programs are you running and what content do you have? And then we start aligning all of these pieces together and then plug them into the technology. So the technology is just the orchestration of that.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, so it sounds like, as long as you have everything set up in terms of your repository, your library, everything's tagged correctly, and you've got all those different technologies that you've mentioned in terms of 6Sense and the other technologies that you have there, as long as you have everything all lined up, then actually it can deliver.

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, it can deliver one-to-one at scale. And then of course we have our highly strategic layer that is not technology, it's account research, it's one-to-one direct mailers, it's custom infographics. That's another layer that we do as well.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, yeah. So let's just talk about account selection. Many guests on Let's Talk ABM highlight that account selection is what makes or breaks a successful ABM program. Would you agree with that position?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yes and no. When we're selecting accounts, it's our job to help inform the selection of accounts, but it's ultimately Sales who gets to decide. So depending on how you measure ABM, if you're measuring it like a Demand Gen program, then yes. But if you're truly there to help Sales for what they need, your numbers might not always come out what's beneficial for you, it's what's beneficial for them, right? 

So your average deal length size might be longer than that of one that doesn't have ABM. And that can be because the Sales team is asking for your help on account, they just can't close, or they just can't get into. And that's why you were brought in. And that totally screws up your numbers when you're trying to report on things. 

But what's your goal? Is your goal to help Sales or is your goal to pick at the accounts? They're going to look at your ROI numbers, right? So it depends on how you look at it, but we're Sales first. So Sales gets to make the final call on anything we do, any accounts we tackle. And so our job is to inform them with intent, with competitive data, with an MQA model that our team builds, a customer MQA model. We got all the data within Snowhouse, within Snowflake to help them make those decisions.

Declan (strategicabm) - So in effect, you're helping Sales make the right decisions in effect in terms of the accounts that they want to be included.

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yes, and we're more particular about some than others. So our programmatic layer, that's intended for quick wins, right? We're picking accounts every 8 to 12 weeks. Those are working with the SDRs. Those ones, they've got to have some intent behind them in order to ensure that it's the right timing for an SDR to reach out to them. 

Our middle layer where it's just AE, they get to pick. It's okay if it's not the right time, they know they have to get into the account regardless. So it depends on the layer.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah. And you've mentioned, there, Sales a few times, actually, Hillary. How would you define the relationship you have there with the Sales team and the Sales leaders? Is that alignment there that is so sought after?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, so the ABM team is set up similar to a traditional Field Marketing team where our team members line right into the Field Sellers. We're part of their team meetings, we're part of their QBRs. We have conversations with the Field Marketer, the SDR, the AE, the Sales engineer, everybody in one conversation on a regular basis. 

So we're built right in. We recently had our QBRs for this last quarter, and one of the things that the Sales team said is the ABM integrated motion just works 'cause they don't want to go to five different people in Marketing. They want to have a single point and know that it's integrated and say, hey, we're going to work on this account. ABM takes care of it. We're working with everybody else and really integrated with our counterparts in order to execute.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, that reminds me of when I was interviewing-

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, to your point about account selection, I still have it on my mind here. Yes, it matters what accounts you select. I didn't mean that you can just pick any accounts. You have to pick accounts that are best for your business. We trust our sellers to pick the accounts that are best for the growth of their business individually and help support those. So if you're going into ABM and don't have that relationship with sellers, of course you can't just go pick whatever accounts you want. You've got to look at the data to drive that decision.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I think the combination of the data and also, as you said, also the insights from the Sales teams who are on the ground talking to those clients, talking to those prospects, if you can combine those two together, you have a winning formula.

And it also just reminds me then that your point around the success of your ABM and the response from the Sales team and Sales leaders. It just reminds me of when I was speaking to Marlowe Fenne who heads up ABM over at FireEye, he was saying that when they have their regular quarterly meetings with Sales, Sales show the top three accounts and they match the top three ABM accounts. So that you're having that alignment really between the accounts that ABM is being used to target and obviously the accounts that are actually being won and are showing the highest revenue growth. So that's perfect alignment there. 

Let's just ask one question about technology, because obviously a lot of people, you know, there's so many technology platforms out there and obviously there's more every day. And when we get asked about what to do, how do you work with technology, what technology should you choose, the answer we tend to give is that you should always lead with the strategy first and then the technology should follow the strategy. But what advice would you give for people who are looking to launch an ABM program and then thinking about technology? What would your advice be there?

Hillary (Snowflake) - I agree, strategy first. I think the Marketing has been done very well across ABM platforms in the recent couple of years, right? Kind of a one-stop shop, we'll do it all. And they do offer a lot of capabilities, but it won't do ABM for you. Like we talked about earlier, your inputs into these technologies are only as good as the data that you have to power them and the executional arm afterward. 

So in terms of selecting a technology, I would say start small, right? You don't necessarily need a giant platform to start. You need one thing that you can master and you're building a machine. So you get one cog working really well before you add another one and then integrate another team that is going to use a technology. 

So if you're going to do a SDR motion and you're using an outreach or a Sales loft, master not only the technology, but the people and process that go with it. And once the technology, people, and process are all in place for that, you can add another layer. And then what can happen is once you've built a machine of sorts, you can change the topic, you can change the body style if you're thinking about a car, the interior, and your basic machine is still going to keep working. 

So you don't have to rebuild that year over year, program over program, because that machine is there. So I would say focus on building a really strong foundation one step at a time, and then add the pretty, fancy, snazzy pieces later.

Declan (strategicabm) - Thereafter, yes. So start small, almost do it without technology, and then you can layer on technology as and when you need it. You've talked a little bit about ROI, but is there any information you could share, is there anything you can share with the audience in terms of the impact of your ABM program?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, the way we report really depends on what accounts we're working, right? So depending on how many customer accounts versus prospect, deal length, what the goals of the program are. 

So most recently in my latest QBR, we chose to report on how we're impacting the broader business. So how do we make the SDRs more efficient? How do we impact Demand Gen? That track. 

So we found that within our enterprise org, the SDRs are seeing 2.7 times the meeting rate in ABM accounts that are engaged. They had 20 page visits or more to their ABM page compared to non-targeted ABM accounts. And also seeing about a 50% lift in the pipeline size, which is a great lift as well. 

When we're looking at campaign responders, at the end of our Q2, we saw three times the number of campaign responders in ABM accounts compared to non-ABM. So great lift there. That means we're taking the right people, getting them engaged, and then they're going off and engaging in the programs that we want them to, become what I call ‘known engagement’. 

A lot of ABM is anonymous engagement. We want to convert them to known engagement. On our major side, we're looking at almost five times the meeting rate in ABM accounts compared to non-ABM, same 50% lift in pipeline. And then we actually saw 10 times the number of campaign responders compared to non-ABM accounts. 

This is really, really important because these are massive accounts with massive opportunities. So we're able to get the right message and really tailor it. And a lot was our Field Marketing team doing one-to-one events, multi-series events, all within one account, that have been really successful.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, those are pretty compelling numbers there, Hillary. And as you said, you're getting these multiples when you're comparing ABM accounts to non-ABM accounts, which is absolutely phenomenal and shows the impact actually ABM can have on a business. 

Let's just break down the building blocks of an ABM program. ICP, account selection, value prop, intent, messaging. Where would you say that you spend a large proportion of your time?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, the first year was really spent building out, like we talked about, the foundation, right? What are the pieces that will fuel the engine? So we spent a lot of time figuring out the messaging matrix. That's a big effort to narrow down. 

Most companies have more than three personas, but when you're looking at executing, you've got to make it realistic. So how do we bundle those personas into three? A business leader, an IT leader, and a practitioner, for example. So building out those layers. 

And then the next step was really focused on building the processes with the people. And that's where we've been integrated. How do we work with Partner Marketing? How do we build a playbook of exactly who does what, how does an Alliance manager play in versus a Partner Marketing manager? And then how do we work with our SDR org? What do the SDR managers do versus ABM managers? All of those pieces are what I've been focused on for the last year and a half. 

And we're now at the point where we have this three-tier structure, it's all coming together and now we're focusing on operationalizing it. So the leaders on my team are operationalizing that, and I'm looking into the future of, how do we scale beyond that. 

So we kind of did everything, right? ICP is pretty much already decided by our Sales Operations team and they've done a great job there. So we've been focusing on everything you listed over the last year and a half.

Declan (strategicabm) - Well, as you know, there's an awful lot involved in launching an ABM strategy. And so that's why we talk about them being building blocks and that they're kind of the foundations that then you can obviously, as you said, once you get it all right, you can then scale. 

I often, or many people actually refer to ABM as being a journey. And obviously with any journey, you can take the wrong turn. You can get a flat tyre, you can get blisters or whatever. But is there any learning that you've had over the course of your ABM journey that you think, you know what, I wouldn't do that again or we've definitely learnt from that and we've definitely become better ABMers because of that learning?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, there's a few intricacies, I won't go into detail, just in specific types of accounts that are better for one program than another, specific types of partners that are better for one program or another. 

And then scale is the biggest thing. I think if I've learned anything, the biggest piece is, for people like me, we have a vision, right? We know where we want to take ABM, what it should look like, how to scale it. And it can be difficult to be patient enough to put in the time to build that strong foundation. 

And so in the times where we've tried to jump to, hey, here's the program, let's run it, it falls apart. And so the lesson I've learned is one thing at a time, take our ideas for the future, write them down. They don't need to happen right now. We don't need to buy more technology right this second. Master what we have and build just one step at a time, knowing the direction you're going and piloting. 

So I like to pilot or do quote experiments because failure is not a problem, right? You experiment, you don't know if it's going to work. So run an experiment, fail fast, move forward, master it, and then add one more piece at a time.

Declan (strategicabm) - No, I think that's great advice in terms of failing fast and just learning as you go, really. Just two last questions, Hillary, what do you think is the hardest part of ABM?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Execution. A hundred percent execution. You can talk about Sales alignment. You can talk about personalization. You can talk about orchestration. But actually doing it at scale is what's challenging. If you have a few Sales reps and a few marketers, great place to start early on in a company's journey and build that foundation from the start. 

When you're a company the size of Snowflake and you've got so many moving pieces, execution is hard, and you've got to have counterparts and partners that believe in your mission. And I've got that, right? I have the Sales Development VP who believes in ABM. Our CMO believes in ABM. So you need the people supporting you to build that out to execute across the teams.

Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, I think you're right there in terms of getting those senior leaders to be on board and to see the value of what you're doing and to have a little bit of patience as well, 'cause it will come through. But as you said, if you're doing some experimenting and piloting, then it may take a little bit longer than originally thought. 

Very last question, Hillary. Somebody comes to you and says, "Hey, Hillary, I'm looking to launch an ABM program in my company." What's that one piece of advice that you give them?

Hillary (Snowflake) - Yeah, I get asked this all the time. Every Friday, I set aside time to talk to ABMers trying to build out ABM with their companies, and my advice is find a quick win. So whether it's very simple taking intent, selecting five accounts, doing ABM for them and having the SDRs reach out, find a way where you can show the Sales team specifically, get something in their hands that they can action and they can see the results of. As soon as you've got that layer going and they're happy, then you can kind of start building more, but give them something to chew on.

Declan (strategicabm) - I think that's a fantastic way to end in terms of giving the team something to chew on and then show the results and then you can obviously build out from there. 

Hillary, thanks so much for being so generous with your time today and sharing the ABM journey there at Snowflake, and all the very best for the future.

Hillary (Snowflake) - Thank you. Thanks for having me.