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The Clientside Podcast

ABM in Inbound Marketing With Joe Birkedale

The Clientside Podcast

45 min Joe Birkedale

In this episode of the Clientside Podcast Andrew Armitage talks to fellow agency owner Joe Birkedale about ABM in inbound marketing.

Joe explains what ABM is, he highlights how it isn't a new concept and gives some examples of how it has been used by reps previously. He explains how it can be implemented for both new and existing customers.

We discuss the three key phases of ABM and how using this more targeted approach seeks to connect with the decision making unit as a whole and not just connect with an individual who may ultimately not have the authority to place an order.

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Andrew:
Hello and welcome back to the Clientside. This is the podcast for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers who are seeking to improve their brand, their marketing and their growth. I'm your host, Andrew Armitage. I'm also the founder of A Digital, which is the digital agency behind the Clientside podcast. And it's great to have you with us again for today's episode.

Andrew:
I hope you're doing well, thanks for tuning in. I hope you're also finding the business is starting to pick up some momentum again and you're seeing signs of recovery. If that's what you're finding, then great. And that's no doubt going to be a huge relief, there's certainly signs of growth and movement again in some sectors. But if Covid has forced your business to rethink the way to sales, then today's show will definitely be of interest because you're going to be talking about something called account based marketing, or is it sometimes simply known ABM? So what is ABM? Well, it's a strategic sales and marketing approach used in B2B environments that turns the typical sales funnel on its head, rather than attracting and pursuing leads with anyone who will listen to what you have to say. ABM starts with identifying accounts or potential target clients first, from where you can then personalise your approach by engaging with key decision makers and developing relationships over time. A phrase you'll hear today's guest use is land and expand. In other words, getting your foot in the door and then exploring opportunities and presenting to clients in such a way that addresses their specific pain points. I guess in simple terms, you can think of it more simply as a personalised sales approach that has the potential to shorten the sales cycle and deepen relationships.

Andrew:
So onto today's guest, he is a fellow podcaster and actually a fellow agency owner. He's Joe Birkdale, who is the founder and CEO of Project36. They are a strategic account based marketing agency based in Birmingham. He's also the host of the CXO podcast, which is a sales and marketing show aimed at C suite directors.So welcome to the show, Joe. Thanks for joining us.

Joe:
Hey, thank you. Thank you for having me on.

Andrew:
You're welcome. So just tell listeners a little bit about yourself and your background in sales and marketing.

Joe:
Yes, I've been running agencies in one format or another for the last 15 years or so and pretty much always been agency side. And in 2014 came up the concept of an entirely cloud based agency, which is where we are now and we've got.

Andrew:
So working remotely won't have come as a problem for you then?

Joe:
No, exactly. It was like just to shrug the shoulders and carry on as we were. I do sympathise with people since lockdown because organisations and businesses have been built around an office location, and the offices get funky and they get cool and running an agency, you have to drag your creatives in, click your fingers, and say right it's 9 o'clock, be creative. In order to get them there You put hammocks and beanbags and all the cool and funky stuff and ping pong tables. But ultimately people are creative where they're most comfortable and that can be on the beach, in a coffee shop, be at home. As long as the quality of the work is exceptional and the deadlines are hit, then I don't care where people are when they work. And so now that concept and the technology Google Hangouts etc it became stable, videoconferencing, Zoom, blue jeans and all those that became stable and accepted. Once we got to that point, it was cross over time. So Project36 was born and then we never looked back. But clients now we've seen them transition to having to work remotely and some have found it really easy and like, well, did you do this before? And questioning why they got such a big office that they're now going to commute backwards and forwards to again. And for others, they just don't like it at all. So it's it's a difficult transition if it's not your mindset.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah, sure. So, project thirty36 then, you specialise in account based marketing. Tell me a little bit about what you mean by account based marketing, because I've done a bit of Googling and yeah, I'll be honest, I've got a bit of an understanding about it, but there's lots of results that come up from the likes of HubSpot, Marketo, Drift is is one that's always in the results there. What exactly do you define account based marketing as?

Joe:
I'll come at it from a more of a you know why we use ABM? Probably give you the same answer. So we use ABM because like you, you've got a service led business. You don't have a product or a widget to sell. So you've got a highly configurable, high human touch, sales process. And the sales cycle can take a long time, but it's usually of high value. If you've got a scattergun approach, such as, you know, sending out thousands of emails in a more outbound approach, the opportunity that you tend to uncover are lower value, higher volume. So it's great if you sell widgets and a lower ticket price stuff then inbound marketing, email marketing etc. That's that's good for you. ABM is much more consultative selling. So if you've got a human element and you've got a highly customizable service and a long lead time, then ABM is a really good playbook.

Joe:
So what is AMB? AMB is treating each customer as a market of one. So you zero right in and you identify not only the target account, and that's a two way matching process. It's not just that you want to work for Coca-Cola, for example, it's can you work for Coca-Cola?

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah.

Joe:
Then you have to work out who your ideal customer profile is within that and the decision making unit within that. So I always give the example of a university. A university has got a campus and a course, yet they've got in its simplest sales cycle, they've got two buyers. They've got the student and their parent. The parent wants to know about employability, value for money, security, safety, etc. The student wants to know about nightlife, accommodation, shopping, and they're very, very different sets of requirements. But by the same product.

Joe:
Take that back into a normal business environment, the financial director may want to know about total cost of ownership or what it's going to do downstream to the cash flows or capex, or in training and on those knock on costs. None of that is relevant necessarily to the marketing user who wants to have a new product or service, for example, HubSpot they might want to bring in HubSpot, the CEO wants to know what the operational efficiency is going to be, the FD wants to know what the cost impact is going to be. The marketeers within that company, they want to know what it's going to enable them to do. They've all got very different sales messages. ABM is about working out who that decision making unit is and then crafting the message that resonates with each one accordingly and ultimately get them all together in the room. And them all being happy so that you can effectively get a sale, get in there.

Andrew:
So you talk about getting them together in a room and that's that really you know, that's not necessarily you're not talking about physically getting together in a room. You're talking around just focusing in and targeting their very specific needs. And that being common across how you approach your marketing, is that right? So you're really coming down to really focusing on that single individual or that single organisation that fits a certain model or certain criteria? It might be size, it might be turnover. It might be the type of campaigns that they run. Is that what you mean by getting them all in the same room?

Joe:
Kind of, so if I expand on that. So when you're doing your initial account selection, you'd, most organisations have got existing customers and they'll. We'll look at their good customers or what they feel are good customers, and for most a good customer is somebody that will come back to you and buy from you time and time again. Fairly low touch in terms of looking after them. They're not precious. They're not burning up lots of time in support. They pay on time. And there's opportunity, that's a good account for most people. So first of all, we look through your portfolio of your existing customers and find those accounts, those businesses. We then work out, first of all, is this a land and expand exercise? Are we trying to get more from those businesses, and that's fine if it. It's a highly relevant ABM technique. But also is there any look alikes? So there are other businesses that we don't yet sell to that look like and act like these businesses. So you start to build up the account list, that account list is this step one and you can have an account list with net new business, so completely new, you've never dealt with them before. They may or may not be aware of you as a as a solution provider, but you've never worked together. There's not been any transactions. That's net new business. That's, that's fine.

Joe:
And there's the land and expand process, which is more into the delight stage? You've got the customer already, now how do you keep them happy? How do you get them loyal? How do you make that lifetime value go from three years to five years? How do you get into different departments, different territories, different geographies, different verticals within the same organisation that's equally appropriate to ABM. Some ABM programs will manage or attempt to manage all of that. So net new customers and existing clients, others will break it off into separate, separate campaigns, pilot studies, etc. In terms of getting everybody into the room, by that I mean pre lockdown it would have been a physical get them into a room talking amongst themselves. And it's the old adage, if you've got kids. Or, when you were growing up, if Mom says no, you go and ask Dad.

Joe:
It can be the similar kind of principle here, if you're talking to the sales director and they're just not, they're getting hammered and they're getting bombarded by your competitors all the time their guards up straight away. But if you've got a compelling business case that the FD needs to hear, then you can get them talking internally and having that discussion about actually the business does need your solution because of the opportunity or the cost saving that's going to bring. And therefore, this is a credible supplier. So you can start to create inward pressure from the decision making unit itself, because the FD can say, look, our current supplier is letting us down here, here and here. There's all these hidden costs that you don't know about. Therefore, I'd like to talk to this new business and put their individual case across, so that's what we mean about that. If they're all aware of what we do and the messages about our clients businesses resonate individually with each of them. Then we're much more likely to get traction internally and the other big caveat to ABM is you have to have sales and marketing alignment, if the sales director does not want you in that business even if you get your purchase order, the opportunity will fail and six months, 12 months down the line, when you're looking at reviewing and hitting your KPI's, it'll come back on and you the provider of the ABM services, because it'll be the why isn't this working? And it will be because there's no sales and marketing alignment. It has to be a top down through the business understanding and buy into the the business case that ABM is. If that does not exist, you will have a problem down the line so, sales and marketing have to be aligned. And the traditional argument is sales will say, well, it's going to cost X and I could employ another person to do that. Well, I could employ another bum on seat or an SDR or whatever, but that's doing more of the same.

Joe:
Whereas ABM is, it's about working for high value opportunities when you salesperson's not there, so at night, in the evenings, at weekends. In a format that suits the recipient, not the salesperson. So the recipient might not want a phone call. The recipient might want to consume some content or see an ad, and they might not want to see on your site. They might want some retargeting. You know, they might follow up on articles that are surfaced elsewhere or an advertising that surfaced up elsewhere. So it's about the prospect, not about the business that's trying to get the sale. So ABM's a complicated business model. It's got a lot of moving parts and as soon as you start adding in. There's three tiers of ABM really. You've got ABM one to one, which is in its simplest sense, that and you can stretch that to maybe five, six accounts, very easy to manage. Very few moving parts. But Super high value, OK.

Andrew:
And you can, and you can survive on those few accounts because they're super high value.

Joe:
Exactly. So let's say you're an aircraft engine manufacturer, you've got a target audience, maybe six or seven people who build airplanes that's your audience says that's ABM one to one. There is no point having thousands of leads because there's not thousands of companies that are going to work with you.

Andrew:
Sure, sounds like a great example.

Joe:
Yeah. So ABM one to few, which is where most sit. You'd have anywhere between five and 50 accounts. But again, that can, that's very broad. It's like the example of, you know, some people define SME's up to two hundred staff. To me, an SME doesn't have 200 staff, they have sort of 50. So it's a broad definition of ABM to few. And then you've got ABM to many or programatic ABM and that's potentially thousands. And further along that spectrum you go from ABM one to one, one to few, one tom many. Your reliance on technology will increase.

Andrew:
Yeah, because of the scale I presume.

Joe:
Yeah. And you've got so many data points that are moving around. You've got so many potential contacts. So, imagine you've got five people per account, per business that you want to talk to and want to focus on. If you've got 10 accounts, you know, straight away, you've got 50 people to be talking to and potentially having different messages. And there might be a sequence of 10 messages. You've got a huge volume of messages going out at different stages, different times, different cycles, pipelines, frequencies, and that's per channel. Then you've got social to add into that, maybe three or four different channels in there. It's get massive. So it can be run quite simply on a spreadsheet. And that's where we would always suggest a client if they're new to ABM would start, don't get caught with software.

Andrew:
Right.

Joe:
It just overcomplicates things.

Andrew:
Get the process in place first and see how it fits. And then you can expand into a more tailored software solutions, I guess.

Joe:
Absolutely. It's like when we do web development, we tend to run creative design process. So we get to a point of minimal viable product, we launch that. That's where the new sites better than the old one, that's your go live, or your phase one.

Andrew:
Yeah.

Joe:
If you wait, til you've got this ultimate website, a it will overrun, possibly never live as perfection ever exists and it will take forever and potentially you've got a huge capex milestone payments to drop, which no one likes in their business that like to know a fairly fixed cost each month. With creative driven design, you basically spec out what you want the website to achieve over 12, 18, 24 months, break all of those tasks down into bite sized pieces of work, prioritise them and then deliver them over the next 12 months. If you get it right, you should end up with a flat cost each month and a flat development time scale if the client needs to shift the priorities around that's usually okay as long as you've got awareness of it.

Joe:
You can then expand and deliver an ever growing website. ABM is the same, it's breathing. It needs constant iteration. So it's not a set and forget. No, it needs to be set, you run to your program, but you need to adapt because you're dealing with people and human beings do not respond as you'd expect. So once you've got a pilot running, then you need to then establish can you roll it out for longer? Is it hitting the KPI's you hoped you would hit? Are you missing some KPI's that it should hit? Is there additional business benefit you didn't think about initially? Can your client convert? When I say client, I mean, obviously in the traditional sense we provide the ABM services to our clients, can their client convert and they buy. But if you're running this as an internal team and your Clientside running ABM, then when I say convert, can your own sales staff, can they convert the opportunity you're serving up? And it's not a silver bullet, ABM should be used in conjunction with another activity because it's got a long lead time.

Andrew:
Yeah, like most things, nothing works in isolation. Does it really?

Joe:
Absolutely. And if your sales cycles, 18 months, just having an ABM campaign isn't necessarily going to shorten that. It just might mean that you're more likely to win it at the end of the 18 months. Right. You can shorten sales cycles because you can serve up content at a higher cadence. And you can achieve potentially more by taking out steps of the decision journey, because you can pre inform or you can have sales objections already mapped out. So you can potentially shorten it, but you shouldn't necessarily expect to be able to do that with your ABM campaign.

Andrew:
Yeah, it's just as you progress down that journey, you're, in theory, increasing the chances of success because you're building a stronger relationship and a stronger connection with with those accounts.

Joe:
Yeah, trust guide and advise, never sell is my motto really. If you can demonstrate value, if you demonstrate expertise, if you can add value to what it is that you're talking about, then the client ends up being a well, why wouldn't I kind of scenario?

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. Yeah.

Joe:
And they effectively come to you and buy then and it's a very different market. You're not talking about costs as much anymore. You don't necessarily have to talk about your product as much anymore. It's a relationship game. And if you're trusted and you're seen as an advisor, it's just so more fruitful.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah. So early on, you talked about sort of zooming in to to a sort of high value accounts, niche almost. But then you talk about those three different tiers of ABM where you potentially you could have, I think you said thousands of contacts and that's where your technology comes in to help you scale, is there are sort of a maximum cap on sort of target clients, target customers that the ABM, going beyond that, ABM just does not work?

Joe:
Well, it depends on a lot of variables in there, so let's say you're a global business with a global client base and you sell a fairly expensive product. Let's say Apple, a global business, highly profitable, and you want to be doing more MacBook pros into businesses, you want to take market share off of the PC market. So ABM, ABM could be a play for you there, but it would be vast. The campaign would be enormous. And so you'd be better off breaking into verticals and focus on that. So you might say, right we want to get into engineering. Traditionally, this is a mainstay of windows, because of XY piece of software that engineers are using, simulation software, etc. We've got a solution to that now. So let's crack into that market. So you might want to use ABM there if it was just a carte blanche let's sell to every business in the world through ABM, even with technology that's massive. That's too big. There's also, you've got to be honest as well as there's going to be a natural bottleneck. ABM's more suited to service led relationships. Like I said at the start where you've got human beings involved, because you've got a customised approach. So a laptop or a MacBook Pro is a MacBook Pro? Yes, there's options, but it's a MacBook Pro.

Andrew:
The fundamental products the same, isn't it?

Joe:
Exactly. Exactly. So what would be more appropriate is a configured piece of software that's got a training regime behind it, a transition and onboarding process that would be more suitable to an ABM program. But you've got to think back to your natural bottlenecks. How many integration team members do you have? How many clients can be on board in any particular period of time? How many discovery calls can you handle in a month? Because if you're serving up a whopping great big ABM campaign, that's delivering you 500 opportunities a month, but you've got five software engineers that can implement it, you're going to annoy your customers before you've even got them.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely.

Joe:
Because they're not going to get booked in.

Andrew:
That completely undermines the purpose of the campaign in the first place then, doesn't it?

Joe:
Yes, it totally does, because they just don't feel special. And that's the purpose of ABM, is that they feel special from start to finish. So is there a limit? Yes, absolutely there is. It comes back to again, ROI ultimately is the measure of all of these things and quite rightly so. The higher the volume of opportunity, the less configurable naturally that will be, and therefore usually the lower the cost of the item is selling.

Andrew:
Yeah, so it's more of a commoditised product isn't it?

Joe:
Exactly. So if you've got a commoditised product which has got a lower you know, you're talking in the hundreds now in terms of pounds then ABM for you is not necessarily that it's running out of options, at that scale. And you're much, much better off with an inbound campaign. So if you imagine seeing the inbound sales funnel upside down triangle, so at the top of the triangle, you've got your that your audience that is potentially unaware of your service or your solution. And then as they drop through each layer in that funnel, they become more and more aware until there's a buying intent and a decision, yes or no, as in you, they don't buy it or they buy from a competitor. That's your high volume stuff. So low value, high volume. ABMs, the other end of the triangle.

Joe:
Yeah. And quite often you'll see the the ABM sitting at the bottom of an inbound funnel because inbound can help you surface up who your next ABM targets could be. Yep. Because they'll go to the early awareness stages and you get your high volume leads. But actually through some of those leads you'll uncover some high value accounts that need a lot of handholding configuration. But there's a big opportunity there. So that can be, you can run both campaigns. So on our engage ABM programs which is like our flagship solution. We we utilize both sides of that. So let's say we were running a webinar series for our client. The webinar series would have a key objective of dealing with and selling to the panel. So we invite guest panel on there. And those are our primary targets. The audience is our inbound lead flow, so people who are listening in. That's the opportunity, they're tomorrows leads. They will enter the normal marketing cycle. They would enter the normal marketing channel. But it's the panelists and that C suite or that decision maker, that would be the primary target. So you've got both elements of that covered up because you're showing thought leadership. You're demonstrating that your client is, got a lot of expertise.

Andrew:
You've got the authority.

Joe:
You got the authority. And, of course, you're in a win win environment because you're the event creator.

Andrew:
You naturally get the profile and the visibility.

Joe:
Yeah, exactly. And if you think of a, you know, a horse race, if you sponsor a horse, you've got a one in 20 chance of winning. But if you sponsor the race, you're always going to win regardless of who wins. So it's the same thing if you've got an event and you're the chair of the event or the you've brought it together, you're winning.

Andrew:
You get that ownership don't you, control in terms of how you promote it, invites, sponsor other sponsors, but partners and all those sorts of things that go with it.

Joe:
Absolutely. And you're the hero, the thought leader, because you've pulled it all together. So, yeah, ABM's really about that expertise, it's a given that you can do the job or it should be. It's about getting other people to find out and discover about you, really.

Andrew:
Yeah. OK, and you've talked a little bit about KPIs, key performance indicators. What sort of KPI? I mean, ultimately, sales presumably is going to be one of your main KPIs, particularly if you look back over the course of a six month, 12 month campaign. What sort of sales improvement have we seen? But there must be some incremental KPIs that you can measure along the way that at least, you know, particularly if you talk about that long sales cycle, you've got an 18 month sales cycle. There must be a point along that journey where you can say, look, we're making inroads, we're making progress where we've not necessarily achieved the sales that we want, but we are going in the right direction. What sort of KPIs might people look at there?

Joe:
You know, it's going to change business to business. I mean, ROI'S going to be one of them, you know, to make more money than we spend, that's number one. And on that one, they shouldn't necessarily be the first KPI, but ultimately it will matter and it should matter and marketing should be really aware of it. But with ROI as a KPI, you've got to give it time. So I'll give you an example of why that's important consideration. If you've got an ABM campaign that the business has agreed to fund for, let's say, 12 months. And it does really well and it's doing everything it can, it's identifying the key decision makers, it's getting some traction and I'll touch on the KIP's in a minute, it's doing all of that. And then you have a review of the 12 months, the review is going to say, right, well, how much money did we get? You may not have sold that client yet if their sales cycles 18 months. Then you will not necessarily have revenue to point to, so that needs to be discussed and understood at day one.

Andrew:
So setting expectations like a lot of things. Get that conversation out up front.

Joe:
Stakeholder expectation. There's no good hiding behind the bushes on that one. You've got to get that clear that if you've got an 18 months sale sales cycle and you're assessing this campaign success at any period before that, you run the risk of having a false report on the ROI. So that's really important. It can have a direction of travel, you'll see. And it's likely and you'll have lots of conversations ongoing. But if ultimately the FD's sat there tapping this piece of paper saysing but there's nothing in this column, then you need to remind them that you have this discussion at the start. It was always going to be, that's the case.

Andrew:
And that's my point, that you, that's not necessarily you can't say that's failure at that point, because that was you know, that was something that you went into the campaign knowing. But there must be something that you can then appease the FD and say, but we have got this. And maybe that doesn't come from a financial angle. And I guess that's that's the next data.

Joe:
Exactly. And this and this is where, again, understanding of what the KPI's are, and getting stakeholder buying when they're set, for engagement rate. Engagement is really nebulous, isn't it? What does engagement look like and why is it relevant? Well, it might not be to your organisation, but it probably should be. So engagement you can measure or you could score, for example, if you've got 10 decision makers in an organisation, have you made contact with and two way. Have you had two way contact with all 10? You can score that, you can score at literally one per person. So, yes, ten out of ten. Or you could say yes. And all of those ten, five of them are highly engaged. Three of them are extremely engaged and two are not interested at all. So, you could get engagement score, you can have your key decision makers might be knocking it out of the park, they might be engaged, absolute evangelist's chomping at the bit to buy from you. But if the other people in the secision-making unit are not, let's say, pick on the FD again, if the FD doesn't want to spend any money, then does it matter how convinced anybody else is if they won't relinquish budget for it?

Andrew:
It's a non-starter isn't it?

Joe:
Exactly. Or if they won't champion you spending that money, then it's a non-starter. So engagement right, is another one. Reach or penetration within the account. Have you been able to get to the key decision maker? If not, why not? The velocity of the pipeline is the. Are you stuck anywhere you can have natural sales cycles, let's say identify, connect, engage, three basic ones. First of all you identify them, then connect with them. Can you get that relationship going and then engage? Can you get any engagement with them? Can you get meetings booked? If you're stuck in any of those phases, you need to identify why you're stuck. But also, how long are you in each phase? And is that common across all of your business or is it just that particular clients?

Andrew:
Right. So you can start and draw comparisons between different target clients, basically or different accounts.

Joe:
Yeah, exactly. And you can, like I say say, it's a living, sleeping thing, a living, breathing thing. It needs to evolve. So, you know, we know on our sales cycles, for example, that the the biggest pause in our pipeline velocity's always waiting for a decision. Doesn't whether it's an ABM campaign that we're proposing or if it's a website or if it's brand design or podcast series or whatever it might be, the client will come to you with an opportunity or service opportunity, we'll pitch and propose that opportunity. It's always, oh yes, I'll need it, can I have it tomorrow, etc., etc., as is always the thing, it will then sit in the decision phase much longer than anywhere else. So for us, for us that's on average twenty one days, across all deals, it's twenty one days at the moment. It's not being helped with everybody being working remotely.

Andrew:
No, exactly the change of processes and things.

Joe:
Exactly. So when that flags on our KPIs, it's gone from 18 to 21 days, rather than panic, we can allow, the economic climate is not conducive to people making a rapid decision at the moment. People are quite rightly sitting and thinking do we want to spend this now and is it the right way to go, etc.. So pipeline velocity is important. Can you shorten your lead cycle? So if you've got eight months late cycle, in eighteen months, a business is burning through cash? It's burning through the staff costs. It's going to the marketing costs, all these costs, overheads, buildings, cars, etc. That's cost. If you could take that time and make it from 18 months to 12 months you've just saved six months of cost.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely.

Joe:
And then you could be working on the next deal etc.

Andrew:
You've potentially got that upsale opportunity as well for that same, same client. So you've not just saved six months of costs. You've you've gained six months of potential sales opportunities as well haven't you?

Joe:
Absolutely, yeah. You're six months ahead of getting more business out of that client that you win. So it's a win, win and win. So if you can shorten your conversion cycle down, then, then absolutely measure that as well. What you definitely don't want is it going the other way, unless there's a caveat here. Unless you average order value increases as a result of taking slightly longer to land it. The lifetime value mappings notoriously difficult. What does the average client equal? But you need to understand a lot of the ABM campaigns, the ROI should be looking at the lifetime value, because an ABM campaign can be quite expensive and you might not break even on month one. Sorry, on year one, you probably should, but you might not. And again, it depends on the industry, the service or product your're selling. For some, landing one client will pay for the whole company for the next ten years. And great but it might take them ten years to get that one client.

Andrew:
Yeah.

Joe:
So understanding that's important. But lifetime values touch on that briefly, let's say I don't know, but I've got a phone on my desk so I got my iPhone. My lifetime value to EE is the length of that contract, it's 18 months. Their opportunity is to take that 18 months and turn it into 36. They'll come back and say, right, you can upgrade for 50 quid, or you can upgrade for free. So rather than me running that contract and then going, I need to stay with EE for another 16, 18, 24 months, whatever. So my lifetime value to them has gone up.

Andrew:
Suddenly goes up. Yeah.

Joe:
They sweeten the deal to keep me with whatever incentive. But that incentive is probably less than the cost of acquisition of a new client. Yeah, they're actually a net gain in terms of value of business. So that's the kind of level you can get to with ABM is, lifetime value really is, ok, the cost of getting the client in the first place, but what's the lifetime opportunity within that. And if we go right back to where we started the conversation today, you got two kind of opportunities. You've got the opportunities of net new business or but also retention or land and expand the existing business. ABM is not often used for that. And it really should be because your existing clients are alot easier to keep usually then finding new ones.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure.

Joe:
There's relationships, you intrinsically know more about them. They know more about you that sales costs should largely have been eliminated. It should now be an account management cost, you know, uncovering opportunity along the way.

Andrew:
And providing great service. So as you were saying, people feel special out of it.

Joe:
Exactly. And case study. Case study your relationship that can be part of your ABM campaign for land and expand. So if I'm talking to Deborah in Dublin and they've got an international operations I might want to be talking to David in Sydney, David doesn't know me. He doesn't know Deborah, but if show case studying his organisation and linking Sydney into this she stands by this and you're her counterpart, but in in Asia.

Andrew:
There's clearly an understanding there of how, how that relationship has worked and what you understand about them as a business. And therefore, you know, you're a natural choice to to explore further work with, aren't you?

Joe:
Yeah, exactly. And people don't like to put their neck on the chopping block. So somebody has done it before them. You're removing some of that risk, aren't you?

Andrew:
Yeah.

Joe:
Yeah, exactly. And that never becomes more true until it's when it's time to sign. And that's why it'll always be the decision making stage. Quote with clients or waiting decision. That's always the nervous bit and it's always the longest bit because the client's making sure all the due diligence has been done. Are they politically risk if this goes pear shaped, etc.. And, you know this as an agency owner. If someone is going to sign of a website for you and you don't deliver on it, then who's next on the chopping block?

Andrew:
Nobody wants to be put in that position. You know, they obviously, you know, they might be seeking their own promotion. They might be trying to build their own relationships that might be newish into the organisation. There's all sorts of reasons why why that has to work, not just from a from an end delivery point of view, but but from that internal relationship point of view as well. So we're coming up to time. I just wanted to ask is, is ABM something that you need to give a minimum time commitment to to see if it's going to work for you, or presumably you identify whether it's going to work for you before you commit. But is there a particular timeframe that you you really have to allow for ABM? And I guess this kind of comes into your sales cycle and evidently everyone has to be behind it. Everyone's got to get it, get involved and be in agreement that this is an approach that we're going to we're going to explore and we're going to give it X number of months to to prove itself to be successful.

Joe:
Yes is the answer. So I'll give you two sides to that answer, so the first one is as an agency selling it, we want it to go for as long as possible.

Joe:
Of course, we want to give ourselves the opportunity to take it through to completion, whether we need lots of new business. And, of course, that then when I roll this out. Furthermore, we also understand that for a lot of businesses, this is a new thing and therefore they might want to pilot for a period of time. So, we get sensitive and very, very, very nervous if anybody's talking three months.

Andrew:
Yeah.

Joe:
Because ultimately, what are you going to achieve in three months?

Andrew:
You're just trying to find. Well, after three months, you've just found some rhythm with it, really, haven't you starting to feel the motions of of how it all fits together and how it works and then to stop at that point, you're really cutting yourself short, aren't you?

Joe:
Exactly. And don't forget all the set up time and who's doing what and the bedding in with the agency and pulling together and repurposing content, it takes time. So there's a set up period. So let's assume that set up periods been done. Really 12 months, which depends on the size of the business, but really at the minimum nine months. Yeah, but it shouldn't be with let's review has this failed? It's are we happy with the trajectory kind of review. And if the if the, if you kind of like everything is pointing north as it should, then you roll that forward for another, a minimum of six months. So I think if anybody's looking to do ABM, don't look anything under a year really. We have done pilot programs for clients previously that are a minimum of six months plus the onboarding and set up. So I'm looking at a nine month program, six months of active campaigning. But there's a big, fat caveat on that, that if we're doing that, the KPIs are iron, absolutely watertight. We know exactly what we're working towards because as an agency, we will spend a huge amount of time on that initial phase, making sure it is successful, getting everything in play, learning about their business in all the research. And so it has to be on a fair basis. So if you're an internal team and you're trying to sell this to your business and you're going to run this yourselves or with an agency, a longer pilot, if you will, or a longer trial, it's going to be to the benefit of everybody. The only caveat that is you've got ongoing costs, but I think if you're going to give ABM a chance, it needs to be run between nine and 12 months as a minimum.

Andrew:
Ok, so so, yeah, I mean, ABM sounds like it takes lots of elements from, from more traditional marketing. You still got content in there. You've still got sort of account management and service and all of those bits and pieces. But you're really just narrowing down in terms of almost meeting your, your your your target clients in a way that they want to engage with you. You're sort of you're not just thinking about the sale. It's about that engagement, that relationship with them over over a longer period of time.

Joe:
Yeah, absolutely, and, you know, with ABM, there is so many good positive stats that you'll see just Google it, you know, ABM starts stats 2020 and there's a huge amount of information to help people put an ABM campaign together, such as how much budget should they allocate? And, you know, last year I've just got up in front of me a blog on stats for 2020. And they're saying that engage of said that 29% of marketing budget is going to ABM in t2019. The 55% marketers are rating their ABM strategies as established and that grew from 43% the year before. Say ABM is certainly growing.

Andrew:
It's gaining momentum. Yeah.

Joe:
Yeah. Massively But let's not kid ourselves. ABM is nothing new. Technology is an enabler but account based sales or you know, the old days the sales reps drive around going for business to business, printers and photocopiers and things. Yeah, that's that's accounts based marketing or accounts based sales. It's just being dusted off with technology and a fancy new name. It works. It works. Xerox didn't get to where it was by chance. They would go round and target particular businesses and and grow from from that install base.ABM's solid platform but you've got to got to stand by it.

Andrew:
Ok, brilliant. Well, thanks very much, Joe. That's been really interesting to hear all about ABM. Tell listeners where they can find out a little bit more about you, where they might look up the podcast that you have, the CXO podcast. Why might people find you online?

Joe:
Yes. So find the CXO show at thecxo.show, it's predominately aimed at C suite sales and marketing leaders, and we try to uncover problems that are common to all. So how do you maintain sales and marketing alignments in a locked down world? Difficult. Everyone's scattered all over the country, all over the world in some cases. How do you maintain alignment between two very different departments? We look at technology. We look at politics through the business. What do you do if you inherit a marketing team? So you've just been brought in as a marketing director, a sales leader, and you've got a team. How do you navigate that? Because there's politics at play. So we talk about stuff like that and about IAM. And if you want to know about the agency that is Project36.io And if you Google my name or LinkedIn on my name, you'll find me there. So, yeah, connect, say hi, drop by, but I just want to say thanks for having me on on the podcast it's been nice, light hearted good fun and enjoyed it.

Andrew:
You're welcome. Appreciate your time. Thanks very much, Joe.

Andrew:
Well, what a great conversation, I really enjoyed chatting with Joe, who clearly knows this subject inside out with some really good examples along the way to illustrate some of the points he was making. A couple of takeaways for me were the ABM account based marketing, as he said, is nothing new. We talked about Xerox, and while photocopiers aren't quite in the same demand these days, as he said, it was essentially ABM that helped Xerox become the size that they have but back in the day it was high touch activity, likely with high costs, thanks to reps traveling down the country to visit clients and show off the latest technology. Now it's the technology that's doing the legwork and allowing campaigns to scale with automation, personalisation backed by CRM and enabling people to spend that time on high impact activities such as building relationships and identifying new opportunities so they can support their customers in the best possible way. Joe talked about three key phases which were identify, connect and engage. And ultimately, across each phase, the same marketing channels can apply, such as content, social and email. But the nature of the targeted approach is more focused, more direct, and seeks to engage with the decision making unit, not just to connect with an individual who may ultimately not have the authority to place an order. Finally, Joe explained how ABM isn't solely for existing customers, but can also be used to identify new customers or customers in other verticals or sectors where your product or service could be exactly what they're looking for. We'll add a couple of the references that Joe talked about into the show, notes which you can find on our website at adigital.agency/podcast.

Andrew:
Thank you again for checking out today's episode of the Clientside podcast. I really hope you found a useful conversation with some actionable steps that you can apply in your business if you can spare just a few minutes of your time then please do look us up on Apple podcast, search for the Clientside podcast by A Digital and leave us a five star rating. And if you can, leave us a quick review. I'd love to hear your feedback and would really appreciate your support. If you're interested in learning more about A Digital and how we might be able to work together, head across to our website at adigital.agency and complete our online scorecard so you can benchmark your own digital performance. You'll get a free personalised report since you by email and I can learn more about you and your business and the particular challenges you're facing. We can then follow this up with a free call to map out your priorities, either on the phone or over Zoom with absolutely no obligation. Thank you so much, everybody. I'm really grateful for you tuning in. If you have any comments about this episode or any previous episodes of the Clientside podcast, then drop me a line to Andrew@adigital.co.uk or head across to our website at adigital.agency/clientside. See you on the next show. Cheers.

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ABM is about working out who that decision making unit is and then crafting the message that resonates with each one accordingly and ultimately get them all together in the room.

Joe Birkedale Tweet