ABM is again the hot topic for B2B Marketers in late 2018. Marketing initiatives need to find a home within a wider organisation though. The Accenture session at today's B2B Marketing Conference centred around how they gain buy-in and drive success internally for their work.

Accenture CMO, Dr Sarah Thomas and Rhiannon Blackwell the Accenture ABM lead's key advice to up and coming ABM'ers - understand your audience and the different personas in the account facing teams. 

Sales teams still often don't know what ABM is. If Marketers position ABM as a creative exercise, it can fail to resonate. The advice from Sarah and Rhiannon is to anchor ABM against what sales understand and explain things in simple terms. 

  • Position ABM as not just another fad. There is a risk that ABM is seen as a flavour of the month program. Commitment-phobes will be worried. It's a strategic programme that runs with the sales team.
  • Change the dialogue - don’t let them come to the table with a wish-list of tactical asks eg- Videos, brochure. That’s tactical, not strategic.
  • Understand that will have to chip away at the sceptics and turn them into believers, talk about the relationship and on the account overall improvements rather than tactical things.
  • Talk about shared goals with the account teams & remember the human factor. Boost the sales guys and the work they do as well as the great work the marketing team do.
  • Make sure you document success as it's a great tool to use to sell into another account. P2P selling works great. An element of competition works well too. If other accounts see things working well then they want a slice of the pie. 

Sarah Thomas reminded us not to be afraid to try new things, fail on occasion and keep pushing boundaries.  Focus on getting buy-in internally, as it allows you to focus on creativity and delivering exceptional results. 

ABM is all about putting the client first. 

The different internal stakeholder types and how to manage them to ensure your ABM program is a success

Rhiannon spoke wittily about how they addressed the different personas of the internal stakeholders they have the sell ABM into. Here are her tips for approaches for each of them: 

Kenny Keano - enthusiastic marketers who have to take a step back and analyse business outcomes, what clients want to achieve. Kenny Keano typically comes to the ABM team with a statement like "I need this to be the best powerpoint ever" - rather than thinking about the mediums and content most valuable to the customer.

ABM is not just list of tactics. To manage Kenny, Accenture creates a unique visual identity for that account and profiles of how they want to position themselves within that account. 

After this comes the tactics; a content newsletter for each account alongside events and hospitality. The marketing team then start publicising their wins internally and documenting the achievements. 

One client said to the Accenture client team that they don’t want any ppt slides for an upcoming meeting. Accenture considered polaroids but parked that idea and in the end created an A0 poster drawn by an artist about what they wanted to discuss. The contact walked into the room and said: "if that poster’s for me then this is going to go well."

Debbie Downer - the detractors, the people with every excuse under the sun. The example Rhiannon gave here was a sales consultant that said: "I don’t even use LinkedIn". 

The goal with Debbie's is to turn them into your strongest advocates. 

So for the salesperson in Rhiannon's example, they analysed all accounts he was working on and showed how many of them were using LinkedIn. They then developed a social selling approach and supported the use of Linkedin as a sales tool but also as an employee advocacy tool.

They launched social leaderboard to track progress. The people on it don't win anything but were naturally competitive and wanted to win just the same.

Busy Ben - the guy who is just too busy. Can’t we just use Generic copy? He asks. Busy Ben has loads of opinions, but not even enough time to write down his opinions to brief the copywriter.

ABM takes time. Accenture makes time for sales by; researching their targets and looking for insights. They also worked to make ABM outreach as easy as possible with a messaging playbook, detailing the core messaging and language. Hero pieces were built that could be broken down and customised for individual accounts.

Olivia Overanalyser - The person who suffers from "Paralysis by analysis". Those who worry about their approach being too tailored, not tailored enough or any number of small details.

With these stakeholders Accenture let them tailor their approach themselves. Effectively giving them control. The proof came in the pudding through each campaign and through the success of other accounts - eventually, the Olivia's saw the benefits of ABM and were able to contribute meaningfully themselves.