Ask Jarod Greene, VP of Product Marketing at Cherwell, if he and his team are executing on a traditional account based marketing (ABM) strategy and he’ll tell you not really. But in conversation with him, it’s clear that the new direction he’s moving his team in, and the solutions he’s utilizing, are exactly the kind of tactics that comprise a solid ABM plan. Greene’s strategy—and Cherwell’s at large—is indicative of account based marketing’s ability to adapt and evolve with any organization. The characteristics of successful account based marketing at one company may not translate to another; however, every company can find their own mixture of tactics to be successful with ABM.
As Greene leads his team into the enablement era, he has slowly but surely begun changing traditional processes, which may have been effective but had room for improvement.
Many times when talking about account based marketing a spearfishing metaphor is used. Whereas traditional lead gen is like fishing with a net, ABM focuses on specific targets like a spear fisher. When fishing with a spear it’s imperative to be selecting the right target for your efforts—too big or too small and you’ll be wasting energy and time.
Greene set out to refocus his sales team’s target accounts. Previously, they had simply identified the top 25 accounts in their region and set out taking them down. As Greene tells it, this was not exactly the best way to operate. “When people see that list they see dollar signs, they get really aggressive sending emails, cold calling, and sending content. All of this with very little context into likeliness to buy, or intent to purchase with an ongoing project.”
Moving forward he wants a more focused approach, one that will take into account many different factors. “We don’t ask for top 25 accounts anymore. Instead, we identify the winnable accounts. We’re trying to focus reps on winnable deals in their sweet spot they can win quickly and consistently.” For Cherwell this means they don’t need to necessarily target Fortune 500 companies. If there are organizations that fit their criteria better, it’s more prudent to target those accounts instead.
Because Greene is perhaps the most engaging and charming person to have a conversation with about a subject like account based marketing, he has a funny but instructive way of thinking about identifying target accounts. “If you’re going to go ask out the hottest person in high school, you have to look in the mirror first.” That’s not to say you should never swing for the fences, but as Greene says “Understand what that means: You’re going to take a lot of time preparing, and you might be spinning your wheels.”
Once the right accounts have been identified, the hard work begins—targeted engagements and hyper-personalized content. Account based marketing is all about creating meaningful interactions that resonate with key decision-makers at identified accounts. To do so requires a concentrated effort supported by a robust technological solution. Cherwell utilizes Seismic as their sales enablement platform, employing its capabilities in a myriad of ways for focused outreaches.
Greene used the example of a prospect that works in healthcare and is the service desk leader at the organization. “When you hit the DocCenter and search for healthcare all of those assets immediately come up. Next you hit the filter and filter for stage of the buyer’s journey and the persona. You’ve filtered 400 assets down to one. That personalization is huge.” Not only does it save sales reps time and energy, but it makes the prospect feel special. “By the time the person on the end consumes the content it feels like we’ve spent half a day trying to find the right piece to cater to them. In reality it took us half of a minute.”
If the search for the right piece of content hits a dead end, it’s not the end of the road. Instead, it begins a new process in which Marketing is now acutely aware of the need to create a specific piece of content that has a real, tangible benefit.
The ability to personalize content in such granular detail is clearly a huge advantage for Greene, and something he sees as extremely effective. And he would know that personalized outreaches work; it’s how he came to work with Seismic in the first place. “[Senior Director of Inside Sales] Kevin Lally blew me away with his personalized email. He had clearly spent the time and effort to research me, so I owed him at least 5 minutes.”
Nearly as important as the activities that happen throughout an ABM strategy is tracking the effectiveness of everything. As a high-level executive, Greene is well aware of the need to measure his team’s performance, especially when he is implementing new tactics and solutions. Seismic has played a large role in his ability to track his efforts and prove the worth of his strategies.
One statistic he takes particular interest in is utilization tactics. “How often are reps utilizing content? Are they in Seismic often? I need to measure if a person is looking for new content or using the content to support activities,” he says.
From there he is able to begin mapping the effectiveness of content in actually closing deals. “If I can reduce sales cycle time by a month, that’s huge. Why are we able to shorten it? Because I’m always getting the right thing to the right person, and I’m able to show value faster than my competitor.” Providing key decision makers with the perfect piece of personalized content is paramount for account based marketing success.
Combining ABM and a sales enablement solution provides a great way to measure the ROI of marketing efforts. Finally, Greene has concrete evidence of which content helped facilitate deals and move the needle. “Now we can see how content supports the sales process. When we won a 1.2 million dollar deal we could look at what assets helped the deal along.” As Cherwell continues their targeted approach, the data begins to inform future outreaches. In account based marketing it is crucial to apply previous experiences and lessons to future efforts.
Nothing Greene is doing is necessarily radical. Taken individually, his efforts—identifying target accounts, personalizing outreaches, measuring a handful of KPIs—may seem like accepted best practices. But in reality his blending of everything into a holistic system is the hallmark of account based marketing. ABM incorporates many components of Sales and Marketing to facilitate better alignment and improve the chance of closing deals.
Cherwell has bolstered their hybrid account based marketing strategy by leveraging a technological solution. In Greene’s eyes sales enablement has bridged the gap between two departments that have traditionally not seen eye-to-eye. “[Seismic] has solved one of the biggest challenges of marketing and sales alignment. It allows Sales the freedom to do the things they do, and gives Marketing the ability to put some constraints and controls around it. Everyone’s happy.”