Account-based marketing, or ABM, is as much about people as it is about marketing strategy. This was the resounding theme of our recent webinar with ABM experts DXC Technology and Demandbase.
A tried and true practice for B2B marketers, ABM is a discipline aimed at targeting and closing key client accounts and the individuals who indirectly or directly influence business decisions. ABM also serves as a secondary, and less mentioned role in a brand’s organization: that of a checks and balances system for marketing and sales departments. This is where people come into play.
Leading IT services provider DXC Technology—a year-old company formed from the merger of CSC and HPE—has an approach to ABM that requires sales and marketing to pull equal weight. Marketers are all too familiar with how tenuous a productive sales/marketing relationship can be—the two teams can see each other as nuisances or worse, hindrances, to driving ROI. DXC’s brand of ABM is called “pursuit marketing,” which are programs designed to zero in on and close individual target accounts within specific time frames. Pursuit marketing’s success is contingent on sales’ accountability. As DXC’s Nick Panayi put it, it’s “a privilege, not a right” for his sales team.
Gauging success for a pursuit marketing campaign is simple: you either close the deal or you don’t. Panayi explained how this model helps marketing win credibility with sales and in turn, attain what’s needed from sales to properly execute. Marketing and sales are forced to work together to identify targets and agree on KPIs. In effect, marketing becomes a trusted extension of the sales team.
In our webinar, Panayi stressed the importance of bringing together the collective strengths of a brand’s marketing and sales teams, its media agency, and technology partners to manifest the goals of a pursuit marketing team. DWA activates DXC’s media strategy by leveraging intelligence on target customers from Demandbase. Alignment between the three companies is essential to bring pursuit marketing campaigns to life.
Panayi also takes advantage of recent innovations in ABM, such as the availability of “intent data,” or behavioral signals that correspond to interest in a brand’s products or services. Using intent data, Demandbase can identify people who are in-market for DXC, which helps inform DWA’s media strategy. Pre- and post-campaign analytics available in Demandbase’s platform help DXC close the loop between marketing and sales to show the true impact of marketing’s efforts.
DXC expects constant communication from Demandbase and DWA in order to see campaign-related activity on an account level. Panayi asks for two types of feedback from partners: directional and contextual. Directional metrics include whether or not visitors to DXC’s site are engaged and consuming content. Contextual metrics take this intelligence a bit deeper to inform DXC on the solutions site visitors are reading about and if there are any spikes in engagement around specific content. This type of feedback helps the brand optimize its creative and work with DWA to refine media strategy.
A surplus of data can lead marketers to believe that every measure of success needs to be tethered to numbers. While MQLs, impressions, and followers are all indicators of performance for DXC, Panayi bases campaign achievement on the following:
- “Aha” moments: did sales realize something they couldn’t have known without marketing? An example would be a previously untargeted geo where there’s heavy interest in DXC.
- An uptick in engagement: did DXC manage to increase targets’ engagement with its site and content than prior to its pursuit marketing campaign?
- Close: did DXC close the business?
The beauty of DXC’s approach to ABM is its simplicity. While media planning and execution involve multiple moving pieces and levers, the goal is always black and white: close the deal. Expectations of DXC’s internal teams and partners are clear, too. It’s easy as a marketer to lose sight of a goal, especially when there are shiny new objects in the world of ad-tech and data to consider on a near-daily basis. As Panayi puts it, he knows he’s done his job well if “sales gets excited about our marketing team.” Putting data, technology, and all that today’s marketing landscape has to offer aside, successful ABM starts and ends with human relationships.