How to Achieve ABM Success with Kyle McCormick

In the feedback from the June edition of the Fearless Forum, we received a lot of comments asking for ABM success stories. We spoke with Kyle McCormick, Marketing Systems Manager at Palo Alto Networks, to learn what steps you need to take to achieve success with an ABM campaign.

What are the key steps to launching a successful ABM campaign?

The first and most important step to launching a successful ABM campaign is to define the main stakeholders and everyone’s level of involvement.  At a minimum, this list should include marketing operations, sales leadership and IT (SFDC product owners). Depending on the size of your company and who manages accounts and contacts, this list might be significantly larger and could include sales operations, sales enablement, and business development to name a few. Once these stakeholders are aligned on objectives, timelines, and success metrics for the campaign, the last box to check is determining which accounts will be targeted and how they will be flagged within the systems. When selecting accounts, start small by focusing on 20-30 accounts at most.  If you choose too many accounts, you will not be able to devote the attention needed to nurture those accounts through the sales cycle.

How do you pick the accounts to use for the campaign?

At my previous company, we took a three-step process for selecting our accounts. We first asked our enterprise sales managers to select the top 25 accounts they would like to target. As you would imagine, we were quickly inundated with an overwhelming number of accounts. It would be unrealistic to select all of them and we knew we needed to focus on just 20-30 accounts. Secondly, we leveraged Mintigo to aid in our account selection process by analyzing current customer data. Using their predictive model, we scored the accounts our sales managers sent and then chose target accounts with an “A” grade that were in the 99-100 percentile. Lastly, we got official sign off from all stakeholders to make sure everyone was on the same page as to which accounts would be selected. After receiving approvals, we ended with roughly 30 targeted accounts.

What steps are critical to success?

The most important step to ensure success is preparing and aligning systems prior to launch. At my previous company, we leveraged our sales operations team and pioneered a company-wide cleanup effort to remove duplicate accounts, contacts, and leads prior to launch to ensure we were not targeting accounts we already actively had in the sales cycle. Understanding sales operations’ processes and best practices were necessary to effectively measure the success of our ABM efforts. We also would not have been able to launch an effective program without engaging our information technology/systems team early (and often) to ensure our field-level tracking requirements were understood, tested, and in place prior to launch.

How do you align with other teams critical for campaign success?

Leveraging and integrating technologies, specifically Mintigo and Marketo, can play an essential role in aligning the sales and marketing teams. Understanding and sharing the power of predictive analytics with the sales team helped everyone realize the potential opportunity for account penetration. As previously mentioned, we were able to keep our IT/IS teams aligned with our goals by communicating early and often within the process.

What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest challenge at my previous company was getting global buy-in across all functional teams. Everyone talks about sales and marketing alignment, but it is bigger than just a catchphrase. You need to ensure your IT/IS teams are on board with changing fields in Salesforce and Marketo, and you need to make sure individual stakeholders are on board. The second most challenging obstacle was the account selection process. We went through a massive cleanup effort to remove duplicates, but duplicates will always remain, and it is important to regularly check and clean the database. We had to go through multiple iterations of combing through selected accounts to ensure we were not selecting current customer or partner accounts. 

About Kyle McCormick



Community Page: Kyle McCormick

Have any questions or other ABM success stories to share? We would love to hear them in the comments below.

This content is featured in the August edition of the Video Link : 2469 . Feel free to check it out for more best practices, tips and tricks, and product updates!

Level 9

Love the insight on how you select the account for the ABM campaign!

Level 4

Will keep this for reference when my company gets closer to ABM.

Level 7 - Champion Alumni

Good insights. Curious to learn more about how you measured success. What types of reports did you build?

Level 4 - Champion

Agreed that Global buy-in is huge, and from what I have learned thus far, Global understanding of what ABM really means is very important, as this is used so very differently at each company I have been at!

Level 4

How did you link your ABM campaigns in with your CRM and align it?

Level 2

You hit the nail on the head with dupe scrubbing, will they ever end? I heard some companies get sales and marketing together and have dupe scrubbing parties with pizza and beer. And I also appreciate hearing that you have to scrub to ensure that you're not including customer accounts, it's never as black and white as it seems!