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Lifting the lid on account-based marketing
Episode 127th October 2022 • Revenue Riser • Alate Business Growth Ltd
00:00:00 00:42:33

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Shownotes

Account-based marketing encompasses an organisation’s entire go-to-market strategy. It involves deep understanding of a few target customers or prospects – and crucially the people within them.

Contrary to the name, ABM is about far more than marketing. It encompasses sales, customer success, research, and planning. And although SaaS products play an important role, it is not a tech-driven solution, but rather a collaborative insights-based approach, aided by technology.

Guests

Helen Brown is the founder of Seeblue Marketing, a specialist tech sector marketing agency. Steve Bonadio is VP of Global Demand Generation at Ivalua, a growing spend management platform.

Key takeaways

  • Technology can enable an ABM strategy, but isn’t at its root.
  • The insight gathered from an ABM platform needs to be absorbed by a human.
  • Avoid embarking on an ABM campaign before you know you have a strong, proven message.
  • ABM campaigns are a team effort, spread across marketing, sales, and customer success teams.
  • Don’t talk about yourself at the beginning of a campaign. Instead, tailor and personalise your approach for each target customer.

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Transcripts

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if you don't have a person whom you want to put against an ABM program,

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you will struggle because it takes daily, weekly focus on management.

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You can't just set the parameters in your neat piece of tech and it'll

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do it all for you and off you go.

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you have to have somebody absorbing and interpreting that and understanding

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what they need to do with the insight that's being provided

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Welcome to Revenue Riser.

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I'm delighted to kick off season three with a topic that's gaining

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traction in the market, but which is often misunderstood or deemed to be

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too complicated for many businesses.

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We're talking of course, about account based marketing.

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I'm your host, Anna Britnor Guest, and I'm joined for this conversation by two people

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who have a great handle on this topic.

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Helen Brown is founder of Seeblue Marketing, a specialist tech sector

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marketing agency, and I came across Helen recently through my network.

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With a common focus on growing B2B tech companies.

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We immediately saw eye to eye, and I was keen to explore Helen's knowledge of ABM.

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Steve Bonadio is VP of Global Demand Gen at Ivalua, a growing

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spend management platform.

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Steve and I originally worked together a few years ago now at

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Steve's previous employer when I was implementing a tailored sales

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methodology for the business.

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And of course, we were keen to make sure that fully aligned with the

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marketing organization as well.

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So let's take a look at account based marketing.

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Now, if you're listening to this, you probably know that

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it turns the idea of the wide marketing fishing net on its head.

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No longer a marketing funnel, but a highly targeted, personalized approach

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that focuses on one or few accounts.

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So is it for you and how do you make a success of it?

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Let's dive in and learn from Helen and Steve.

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I think one of the things that we've often seen in conversations around ABM

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are quite a number of misconceptions.

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So it seems to me a really good place to start this conversation to perhaps pick up

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on a few of those, unearth them and share where are some of the misconceptions?

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Where do they come from?

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And through our conversation, perhaps we can address some of those.

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So Steve, do you wanna start us off with some of the things that

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you see in here most frequently?

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Absolutely Anna, and thank you for inviting me to your podcast.

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Really happy to be here today.

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Uh, I think there's a few key misconceptions around abm.

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Uh, I've been doing ABM in some form or fashion for about

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the last five or six years.

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Uh, before it really was a, a discreet domain that people really are

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talking about, at least marketers are talking about on a day to day basis.

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And one of the, the key misconceptions that, that I've seen and that I've

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actually fallen prey to early in the early days of, of my ABM experience,

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is that ABM is a marketing strategy.

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Uh, and I don't think that could be further from the truth.

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Uh, as far as I've seen the successful ABM program.

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Encomp much more than marketing.

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It encompasses sales.

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It encompasses customer success.

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It encompasses the entire go to market strategy of an organization and how

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they're looking to accelerate their pipeline growth and their sales.

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Obviously that's the goal for, for any company.

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Um, and from my perspective, uh, when you take a myopic view of ABM, that

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it is just a, a marketing strategy, and even worse, and again, I felt

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prey to this, that technology is the totality of an ABM strategy, you can

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find yourself doing things in a very narrow way don't actually help you

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achieve your goals with respect to ABM.

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So I would say that is one of the bigger misconceptions that I've learned from

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experience on, um, and we've worked to, to do quite a bit to bring the organization,

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um, into the fold to align with our counterparts and other parts of the

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organization and to really make ABM, which is somewhat of a misnomer, part and parcel

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of how we go to market as an organiz.

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I would say another key misconception, uh, Anna and Helen is, uh, the fact that if

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we implement an ABM platform or we, we put together an ABM strategy, it's gonna bring

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in a ton of new leads into our business.

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Uh, it doesn't work that way.

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ABM by its very definition, is focused on accounts and companies, um, and

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understanding what is driving those companies and the people in those

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companies, of course, um, and where they are in their respective journeys with

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respect to their purchasing process.

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And so when I was rolling out ABM, um, in some of the earlier years, I would

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get questions from my SDRs or my sales guys and gals, and they would say, Well,

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where are the It was sort of the Glenn Gary Glenn Ross question that I uh,

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didn't quite expect, but I had to do quite a bit of education around what an

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ABM platform and strategy can do for us in terms of helping us identify the right

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priorities in terms of accounts to target.

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Um, helping us to identify where we can win as an organization.

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So developing customer profiles or ICPs, um, to understanding.

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How we're engaged with those accounts today, or what intent buying signals

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those organizations are sending and how to sort of triangulate all that data so

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that instead of casting a really wide net and going after hundreds or even

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thousands of accounts from a marketing and sales perspective, we've honed in on

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those specific accounts that we feel we can win and, and win, win their business.

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Uh, and so I think expecting leads from a ABM campaign, sure.

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Leads will come in in some form or fashion.

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They just might not be the leads that you expect.

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The contact goes MQL and they get followed up on and they enter the

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pipeline and ultimately, you're building the buying teams and, and

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it goes through the sales cycle.

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That stuff still happens and it's important, but ABM is, is taking a much

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wider net and making it much smaller and catching that big fish at the end of

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And Steve, I think an interesting reflection on what you said

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there in terms of it's targeting specific accounts, right?

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So if you think about another misconception that I often hear

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said is it's just for enterprise businesses, it costs too much money.

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You know, doing an ABM program is gonna be, for starters, a six figure

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investment in some sort of tech.

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And every single time, my answer is not necessarily, And I think the

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thing that I would encourage people to think about is not who you are as a

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business and how big your business is, but who is it that you are targeting?

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H how big are their businesses?

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So if you take one to one ABM, for example, you could be a five

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person company, a tech company.

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But if you are selling into large enterprise accounts and you've got

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a total number of accounts that's sub 50, then ABM is definitely an

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option that is worth considering.

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Because you're thinking about what is my acquisition cost of that account versus

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what's the lifetime value of that account?

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Those are the mechanics that make it either worthwhile or not

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worthwhile in terms of how much time and or budget you want to invest.

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So, you know, purely based on that.

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For me, it definitely isn't just about the big guys.

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And another thing I would say on a slightly different tack is that

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there's loads of research and information about ABM on the web.

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You can go to loads of detail or you can just read the headlines.

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But if you are there, if you're the marketing director or sales person within

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a business, just think about who's writing that material, and what's their objective.

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Because my reflection on, on who spends the most money in the market talking

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about ABM, is that it is the tech vendors.

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So, it's not that that information's not relevant, it is, but just be aware

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of who it's coming from because it does give a somewhat one-sided perspective

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on how critical that technology is to you getting started in ABM.

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I completely agree.

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Helen, And I think there, there are emerging sources of, of credible

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data coming out from, uh, some of the associations in industry and s community

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around more than just the ABM tech and the platform, but on the process and how

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you, how you, you build the strategy.

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And when I talked earlier about, you know, it's, it goes well beyond marketing.

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You know, one of the things we, we did recently, um, was to really look at

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the sales side of ABM and how we really focus and prioritize their efforts.

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So it became much more of a marketing platform that we're doing some advertising

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and we're collecting intent data And we're maybe, you know, driving the

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needle a little bit, which I think the tech vendors do very, very well to how

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do we restructure the organization so that rather than, let's say one region

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is focused on a hundred target accounts, and maybe each quarter the they, they

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create an opportunity in 10 of those, so that would be a 10% conversion rate,

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I would much rather have them focusing on 10 accounts where we think we can

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win and converting three or four of those for a 30 or 40% conversion rate.

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And I think that's where the, the fundamental shift from sort of, it started

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as a tech space to do some advertising, to gather some intent data, to, it's

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become a pervasive throughout the organization and needs to be pervasive

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and a process that everybody is aligned around, I think is the real game changer

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in terms of the evolution of the market and the evolution of how we think about,

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uh, selling and marketing together.

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You raise a really interesting point I think there, Steve, because one of

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the challenges for growing companies is where do we put our resources?

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Where do we spend our time and our effort and our money?

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And in in nearly all of those companies, I use a tool that looks

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at how a team's performing And so on.

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And one of the big things that comes out of that is not enough

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resources to get the job done.

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and So I think this plays very strongly into that question of

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where do we put our time and effort?

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Because I see very often sales, teams that are spread very thin and they, they're

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not getting that real deep penetration and understanding and insight into their

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customers and their prospects because they're trying to cover too many, And

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salespeople never like their territory to.

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be shrunk because it feels like there's less opportunity.

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But you know, what we're talking here about is, you know, trying to

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catch the big fish in the small pond, rather than trying to catch lots of

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small fish in a big pond, isn't it?

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And I think that it's a really important point for any company.

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And Helen, I'll, I'll bring you in in a second here, because

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you talked about a five person company selling into enterprise.

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Well, you just do not have the people, the resources, probably the money to go

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after hundreds of enterprise accounts if you are a five person business.

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And so you've gotta be smart about how you, how you work, you've

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gotta be focused, and you've gotta pick the ones that you can win.

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So I guess that brings us into a question of.

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If you are in that sort of space, how do you get started with all of this?

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What, what are some of the entry points that you can do that don't

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require big budgets, lots of people, large teams, et cetera.

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I think like any big ambitious program, don't dive in, spend loads of

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money on technology that you haven't yet proven you either need or know

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how you need to deliver for you.

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I think that comes a little bit later.

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So First of all align your leadership, your sales, and

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your marketing team together.

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So as Steve already said, this is not a marketing activity.

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This is about sales, marketing, and customer success coming together.

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But you also need to be cognizant, I think, of what, what is the

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expectation of your CEO or your board?

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Because if they're used to looking to for example, your marketing team

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and and driving you on X number of NQLs per quarter, and you turn up

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to that top table with a plan for abm, there's gonna be a mismatch.

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So then it, it's about setting the expectations.

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What do we want to achieve as a business?

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It doesn't necessarily need to be a new account.

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You'd be looking to for the marketing team to come to the table.

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Having researched that account in a lot of detail, having

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understood who the different members of the buying center are.

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So this is taking a classic marketing buyer persona to another level of

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detail, to understand decision makers and influencers, and then to start breaking

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down your message so that it connects with those decision makers and influence.

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It connects about what they care about.

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So you're about as far away from pushing a product message as a business as you

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could be, and you, you're inverting it completely to your customer's environment.

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And you can then build a few kind of very quick to create, but lightweight digital

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assets that can support a conversation.

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So you can start there and run that process through, learning how

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to change the level and depth of engagement between marketing and sales.

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what kind of depth of information you need to go to, whether it's working

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for you and whether the value's there to, to be so focused as in taking a

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one to one approach or actually if you can start to see similarities across

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groups of accounts based on needs or behaviors, in which case you would group

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them to get yourself greater scale.

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And then I think only at that point you'd start to get a feel of what kind

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of technology you might need or may not need to support your delivery.

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So again, if you're a small business, it might be something

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you want to do manually.

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If you are larger, depending on, on the product that you're selling,

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you absolutely might want to look at technology options, and that would be

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the right time to do it, rather than when everybody's new, everything's new,

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you just don't know where to begin.

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Yeah, I think that's a really important point, Helen, and it's how

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I've approached things in past lives.

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You can bite off a lot with a technology platform, as you

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mentioned earlier, can be expensive.

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It can be time consuming to implement.

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I think we've, as marketers, we're inundated.

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With fresh technology all the time, which makes our our job exciting and, and

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almost new every, every month or every six months as, as new things come out.

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And we do need to be technology enabled.

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But to your point around picking a handful of accounts, really getting to

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know those accounts, getting focused on those accounts, building up those buying

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teams, understanding how we're engaging with those accounts, you know, you

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don't need an ABM platform to do that.

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Where you, you probably are going to need an ABM platform, as you said,

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is, is to gain more intelligence around what these organizations are

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doing or what they're thinking, what their intent is, how they're engaging

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with you today, but also to scale.

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And, and that's really where I think I see a lot of my peers struggling

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is how do they scale ABM programs?

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Um, how do they get that right mix?

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One to one, one to few, one to many?

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Where does that, where do each of those, we've all seen that pyramid

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or many of us have, um, how does that then align to the buyer journey and

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how do we support those journeys?

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And we've piloted various things.

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Um, with one to accounts.

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We've piloted running sort of one to few with some industries like healthcare

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and retail and financial service.

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Um, the important thing that I'll, I'll just note, um, based on your comments,

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which I agree with completely, is we need to also understand what we

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want to measure or what the projected outcomes of whatever we're doing,

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whether it's technology enabled or completely manual and you're just

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dipping your toes and piloting things.

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What do we ultimately want to achieve and then what constitutes success.

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Because I thought you brought up a really good point when you, when you mentioned

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that you know, the CMO is going into the, the boardroom talking about ABM,

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and, you know, all of the metrics are sort of geared around the waterfall.

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that includes MQLs, SQLs and sort of traditional marketing, sales pipelines,

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and you start to implement these programs and you see everything sort of go down,

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at least at the top of the funnel, they're like what's ABM doing for us?

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And this gets back to, you know, my education bit at the, at

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first is it's not about leads.

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And if you go into it with that expectation, you're

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gonna be sorely disappointed.

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The leads will come.

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Um, but if they might look like different leads than you're

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accustomed to, uh, looking at.

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Good question here around, you know, what should we be measuring?

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So Steve, do you wanna continue on that point a little bit around what are some of

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the things that you've, in that education process that you've got people to look at?

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Because you're absolutely right, you know.

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They're used to quite volume driven metrics quite often,

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and this is the opposite.

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So what's the, what's the education process and what have you got

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people to focus on in terms of useful metrics to look at?

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Yeah, I think the, the ultimate useful metric is are you closing business with

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the accounts that, um, you are, you are targeting with your ABM efforts,

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Whatever those efforts might look like.

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The the problem with focusing just on closed one business is that many

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companies, um, at least in in my industry, enterprise software, have

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very, very, very long sales cycles.

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Um, six months, nine months, a year, what have you.

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Uh, so, uh, it's important to understand at the end of the day,

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Attribution and, and what's driving that want closed one business.

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Um, but we would also look at things like how much pipeline have we generated

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from these programs and kind of working your your way, um, back up the funnel

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from there to um, putting in place engagement scores for the accounts.

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Um, that you're targeting with your ABM programs.

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Uh, and those scores could be a, a, a combination of all the ways in which

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you're touching those accounts and the people in those accounts with your

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marketing campaigns, your marketing programs, uh, with your SDRs, with

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your salespeople, um, putting in place sort of an account scoring

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model is how, how I would describe it.

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Different vendors describe it in different ways, but really understanding if we

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engaged this bucket of accounts the traditional way and then we engaged this

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bucket of accounts with our, our new sort of ABM approach, can we tell, is there a

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delta in engagement scores and conversion rates, uh, between those accounts?

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Are the, average deal sizes bigger or smaller?

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Is the sales cycle or the top of funnel cycle?

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Are you converting more quickly or less quickly?

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So traditional metrics but applied to ABM.

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And one of the things I learned really quickly is it's really good to ab test

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some of this to understand how you are improving your efforts because

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that's what you can then go back to the board, uh, or your CEO and, and say,

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Look, we invested this much, but we increased our conversion rates by x.

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We increased our average selling price by y.

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And we, you know, increased the velocity, uh, to which we got to

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stage five opportunity or stage six shortlist, whatever your

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stages may be, by 20% let's say,

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So I think those are all really important metrics and I think ABM

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testing is a way, at least at first, to help almost sell your case.

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And, and I also think that once you start to adopt technology, the platforms you

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will adopt, uh, I would focus a lot on what analytics they can bring to bear.

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Some platforms talk about engagement, some talk about lift and, and other metrics

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that are sort of purely in the ABM realm and I think are nice and important.

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But I think at the end of the day if, if you're not driving new opportunities,

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new pipeline and ultimately closed one business into the organization, then you

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know what is the point of an ABM program, or I guess any other marketing program.

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And actually I think how successful a business can be in measuring the

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impact of ABM to a large extent, is dependent on how good they are,

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measuring their business today.

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What is their own CRM capable of today?

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So again, back to that technology layer.

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Don't add in more layers of complexity until you figure out what you can

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actually get from what you've already got.

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Cuz you can't show that forward looking differences, you're mentioning, Steve,

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unless you've got a really clear view of what your metrics are right now.

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And it's, it's funny, Helen, because I think a lot of companies

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do not have those metrics, um, in place and able to report on them.

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Sort of reliable and consistent and systematic way.

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Uh, and I've been with companies, um, that I've joined where, you know,

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that's been a major focus is to make sure that that CRM data is as good and

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clean and high quality as possible.

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Uh, but then to make sure that when you're looking at things like conversion rates

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and, and trying to build waterfall models and things that marketers and sales ops

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love to do, that you're lined on that and you're clear on, on what the goals are,

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and you've established that baseline.

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Because you're completely right.

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Without that baseline, you don't know if you've improved or you've devolved,

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um, in some cases, um, maybe these ABM programs are taking up so much time

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from your marketing and sales team.

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That they're not generating any lift.

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They're not generating any engagement.

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They're not generating any substantial improvements in

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conversion rates or average selling price or, or opportunities created.

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And that's good to know too, because that then enables you to sort of

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rethink your approach and maybe change things or look at alternate technology

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solutions that might be more applicable or germain for, for your business.

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There's a lot of really great tech out there, but it's not

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a one size fits all model.

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So you've really gotta be, you know, thinking about what are your

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goals, what are your KPIs, measuring those and then making sure you're

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aligning whatever technology you're looking at to, to those goals.

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I think this really touches on something that I see a lot in companies, which

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is that there's often whatever, whatever marketing strategies they

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use, there's an, there's an approach and something that's fairly well

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understood in terms of generating those early leads, which we've talked

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about really turning on its head here.

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But actually what is, what is not consistent in many cases is how

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opportunities move through a pipeline.

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So we talked about crm, but those stages, Through a forecast

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are often not clearly defined.

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They're not clearly understood.

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The sales team doesn't have a shared understanding of what the

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exit And entry points are to move something from one stage to another.

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And if they do, it's usually based on a sales activity.

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So have we done a demo?

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Have we done a proposal, et cetera, rather than has the customer done

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something in their buying journey that means that they've met a new milestone?

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And that's something I spend a lot of time with companies working on because once

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you get to that point and you are moving things through your forecast and managing

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your pipeline based on customer activity and customer milestones in their journey,

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then you, then you get to that point that you were talking about Steve, where

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you can see are we speeding things up?

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How, what's our conversion rate through those stages?

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And you've got a much clearer picture on what's actually happening.

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But if you are relying on everybody with their own interpretation, then

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it's actually very hard to really pull anything out of out of that.

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So I think that's something that's really worth thinking about.

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What else should we be thinking about?

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Helen, lets come to you in terms of.

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some of the success factors and what makes the difference between

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doing this well and seeing the right results and, and not doing so.

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I was actually just reflecting there as you were talking, um, Anna, that

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one of the things we haven't talked about is the importance of message, and

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I think agility around your message.

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So, because ABN typically.

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it's, a long term play.

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You don't, you don't say, Alright, I'm just gonna do this for two months and

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I'll come out with, with the results.

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We've already kind of gone through the, the wears and whys of that.

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But what that means is that you not, not everything you do and everything

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that you start will be right first time.

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So, Steve, you talked about AB testing and I think there's the same

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thing when it comes to your message.

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So the reason that we would never start an ABM program, At scale is because

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you haven't proven your methodology, you haven't proven your message yet.

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So we would either start with one account, one to one or one particular

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sector to really understand, have we, we think we've got the right hook.

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But until you've delivered it and you've had success on the back of

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it, you don't actually know that you could research your account.

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You could understand, you know, everything in their financial reports.

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You can catch up with the salesperson and, and really see

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what was the last conversation.

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But there could still be a miss in terms of your product.

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So I think you have to be prepared to be really agile with your message.

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You might create something, and put it to market in some sort

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of digital content, such as an infographic or, or, a short report.

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If it doesn't hit the mark with that one account, don't use it.

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Again.

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You need to change it.

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You need to figure out what, what it hasn't, Um, why it hasn't succeeded.

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And I think that's where, when it comes to, you know, what resources

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do you need to make ABM a success?

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The budget can go up or down, and the scale of it can, can expand or contract.

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But you do need somebody focused on this.

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if you sitting there today as a, as a marketing director or marketing leader,

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and you don't have a person whom you want to put against an ABM program

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with some outsource additional support, you will struggle because it takes

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daily, weekly focus on management.

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you can't just set the parameters in your neat piece of tech and it'll

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do it all for you and off you go.

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Even when you've got the right technology there, you have to have somebody absorbing

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and interpreting that and understanding what they need to do with the insight

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that's being provided and understanding if the message is hitting requirements.

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So I think that's a really, a really important element, certainly

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from marketing perspective.

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And again, the smaller business you are the, the tighter you are to your budget.

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You don't want to be creating content and materials until you

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really know the message is on point.

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Otherwise, you're, you are throwing your marketing pounds

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of dollars down the drain.

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Yeah, I think that's really important Helen.

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You mentioned resources, and this is, this is an interesting thing cuz

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as, as I've launched, you know, many ABM campaigns, I'm almost shocked.

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How many resources and, how many disparate skill sets it takes to to run, let's

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say even a single one to one program.

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You need subject matter experts to your point around the messaging.

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You need people who can write really good copy.

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And then you need the people who make them even better, like the copy editors.

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You need design people, people who can put together really

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beautiful, compelling designs.

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You need technology people, or at least someone with some brushing knowledge,

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how to build email nurture campaigns and landing pages and other things.

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it's a whole team effort to actually.

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Build out these things.

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these campaigns.

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these ABM campaigns.

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and uh, I, I I think the level of effort is, you know, once you start to

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dip your toes and, and, start to take a pilot approach, start to run some

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one on one to one campaigns, you're gonna learn that it is a lot of effort.

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And then, your goal should be, okay, this is working for us.

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We've measured it, we've compared it against a baseline, now how do we scale?

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And scaling's gonna involve people, it's gonna involve new processes,

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it's gonna involve technology, and they're all sort of working together

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to help you get to that scale.

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But, uh, I personally am am shocked by how much work goes

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into some of these campaigns.

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It's, it's almost like putting on, you know, a major trade show where a thousand

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of your customers are gonna show up.

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Just think about all the hands in that cookie jar making a

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production like that come off.

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Maybe it's not that severe or time consuming or that much of a level of

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effort, but it's, it's a good deal of effort that folks should be prepared

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for as they embark down this road if they truly want to get it right.

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And as with anything, there are two ways that people can resource.

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One is either in-house, so some businesses do build in-house ABM teams.

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They give each person a certain number of accounts that they are, that.

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they look after, And they run that pro.

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The alternative, of course, is to have a central kind of program management

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approach and then outsource to an agency.

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and it, might be that you want agency support to help you whilst

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you are learning to understand what's needed, what approaches you

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can take, and then you might want to bring that in house later on.

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But either way, ABM is a, it is a very specific process, but it's

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essentially a microcosm of all elements of marketing, which is a hugely

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broad skillset as you said, Steve.

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Yeah, I think, you know, also, there's actually a third approach, which,

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which I've embraced, in past lives is it is a centralized global function

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in that they're driving for the frameworks and the best practices.

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There are regional ABM experts that understand their territories.

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So running ABM programs, um, in North America is very different than running.

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In, in Europe, or even in specific European countries, as we've learned.

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Um, and, and let's not forget about our friends in APAC.

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All very different cultures all respond very differently to

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different types of messages, how you communicate those messages.

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So that regional overlay to understand the nuances of their specific territories.

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And then in some cases where there's a lot of heavy lifting, some of those

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regional ABM marketing directors might be working with agencies in their regions.

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So it's a centralized function with some decentralization.

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To handle sort of local needs or regional needs, but also working with experts in

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the space who further understand those specific markets, and understand sort of

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how to communicate into those markets and, and can help, um, as a resource to you

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not only be more agile, but to accelerate the development of all the pieces that

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go into a program and, and get them out the door into a, to a live campaign.

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I think that brings us back to a point that we talked about a little

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bit earlier on as well, doesn't it, in terms of the messaging?

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And, Steve, you've just been talking about the regional approach as part of that.

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Um, and Helen, you were talking about getting the right messaging and testing

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that, and is it, is it landing well?

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What's been your experiences, and I think you probably both had slightly

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different experiences here, but what have been your experiences of companies

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actually getting their heads around this messaging from the customer perspective?

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Because very often we'd hear about value propositions.

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A lot of it ends up being about our products and our service and what we do.

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Not about the problems and the challenges and the opportunities that

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the customer's trying to address.

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So, what's been your experience of really getting that messages in, in the

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customer's language, in their shoes, in a way that resonates with them, rather

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than about it being a product pitch?

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To put it, to put it bluntly?

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So, we have a really particular approach that we take and.

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A lot of your audience may have read or heard of a book called The

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Challenger Sale Methodology, and I know that you have, and Steven, we

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spoke previously, so we've developed something that we call the Challenger

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Marketing Methodology, if you like.

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what we do and, and this is dependent of course, on what your product is and

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how well, you are able to define the benefits it delivers for your audience.

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But let's take a tech business that delivers time efficiency, resource

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savings, maybe some carbon savings.

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Because of the nature of what it does.

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The way that we would actually get that message across this is if you're

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talking in a um, one to one level.

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if you want to do it.

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for one to few, then you simply aggregate.

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But you'd actually calculate specific benefits for that customer.

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So you get away from the generic, We can help improve your efficiency by 5%,

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and you actually make a statement, say, We've made the following assumptions.

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We have researched your business, and here's the specific saving that

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we think we can deliver to you.

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Now, oftentimes when you first come to a conversation with sales about that, there

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can be some reticence, some concern about putting figures that are not confirmed

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if you like, in front of your customer.

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But the point is, today's world, and, and we started doing this during covid

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when everybody was at home and suddenly digital, everything just took off and and

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salespeople couldn't meet face to face.

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you have to cut through the noise.

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And how do you cut through noise?

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Be specific.

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So the point is, whether that figure that you've put on a piece of paper is right

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to the last 10 pounds or not doesn't matter, but it starts a conversation.

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You want it to be specific enough that somebody would open it and

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think, Well that's interesting.

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Oh, I agree with that.

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And I'm not sure they've got that quite right, but my, cuz

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I've, my assumption's different.

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But there's your opening to a conversation.

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So, one way of being to answer your question, Anna, really specific and

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audience focus is to quite literally frame it and phrase it, the benefits

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to them directly, and then you serve that through various you know,

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simple pieces of digital content.

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That way you are demonstrating what your product does, but

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to them in their language.

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That's really interesting, Helen, and I agree.

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You know, one of the things I've seen from my experience when, when we, when

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we, approach marketing and as a whole, at least at the top of funnel where

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we're trying to generate awareness, we never really talk about us.

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It's all about thought leadership content.

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Even though technically in a B2B marketing world, you might be introducing case

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studies for their down funnel, we actually found for our ABM programs where we talk

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about the benefits that are customers in specific industries are achieving, with

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our solution, then we extrapolate that to, more broadly, to different regions or,

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different industries, those have been some of the highest performing ABM campaigns

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in terms of engagement and opportunity creation that, that we've built to date.

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It wasn't about us.

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It's what our, our customers achieved.

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And you can infer from that, that it was, you know, we played a part

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in getting them to that, but it was never sort of positioned as, you know,

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we did this and because of that, you know, our customer was successful.

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And I think as you, you think about how you can relate to, you know, folks

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that you're trying to target, it's an approach that has worked really, really

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well for us, at the top of the funnel.

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And then as you sort of work your way down the funnel, you might obviously

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start talking more about you and your solutions and demos come at some point

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in the process, as they always do.

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But um, never talk about yourself at the beginning.

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That was one of my mantras.

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I think the other thing to note is the importance of timing, which is what

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of course, when you have the buyer intent data, for example, really helps

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you understand at what point in time a business may be surging with an interest

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in an area that's relevant to you, but if there's something happening in the

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external environment that makes the timing of your approach to them ideal,

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then you can potentially go in at a different phase in that buying cycle.

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Cause they may not have gone through that process with you, but, they might have a

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burning need for, for what you do today.

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So that's another relevant thing to keep an eye on in terms of

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what message do you approach with.

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It's tapping into that, you know, external environment, which is classic

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kind of PESTEL analysis if you want the kind of consultancy language for it.

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But it, it's just thinking about your audience.

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I think we've touched on quite a number of topics, uh, in our conversation.

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so far.

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and I'm thinking back to some of those misconceptions that we

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started with around, you know it's, it's not really about, marketing,

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it's about the whole company.

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and I think we've talked quite a bit about How that's true and, and the, the way in

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which the company needs to work together across multiple functions to, to do that.

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And and Steve, you know, I think, you also made that, point about the

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education within the business to make sure that everybody understands

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what the right expectations are.

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And, and that, I think, breaks down that misconception about, this is

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about fast lead gen or volume of lead gen, and that we should be thinking

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about companies and people and getting that message really aligned.

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I think we've also talked about.

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how to make, take those small steps that it isn't just about large enterprises,

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that it, that it's an investment in time and effort and potentially money

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to be that focused, but it's about what return is that gonna give you.

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We've also talked about how you can get started without

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being reliant on technology.

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And in all of that, I think given some good tips and ideas of

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where to start and how to build.

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So by way of wrapping up our conversation, is there anything else

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that we've missed that you want to add?

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And, and what would be your parting comment to a revenue or a marketing leader

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who's, who's either getting started on this journey or, or wants to really ramp

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up and improve how they're doing this?

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Two things I would say.

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If you are in that position where, where you want to kick off a program,

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then one of the most important things is the conversation you have to

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get started with your board or or your CEO to set those expectations.

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If you aren't aligned up front, you will have an uphill battle.

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And that's not what this is about.

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This is about marketing and sales and customers', um, success coming together

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to increase value for your business.

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And that's the level of conversation you need to have if.

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you are being driven volume of leads and NQL, then maybe this is not

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the right time for you to do this.

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And the second thing would be in all of the we and the bang of all this

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new technology and ABM processes and everything else, which are

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really, really important, just not to forget the importance of

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actually really good message, really good connection to your audience,

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understanding who your buyers are.

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Some of those marketing fundamentals, that maybe they've been in place for years, but

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maybe something's changed in your market.

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Maybe your portfolio is, is, slightly different, giving you capability or new

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competitors that come in and actually, before you get too far down the road

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or kicking off a big ABM campaign, just make sure you've got some of those

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fundamentals lined up or, or refreshed.

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Based on, on Helen's excellent comments around, um, it's not just marketing.

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It is the broader organization I think can't be understated.

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ABM shouldn't be called abm.

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It should be called ab, AB something.

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But, uh, it really is about fundamentally rethinking the entire

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go to market strategy of your organiz.

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When done right.

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So I think that's an important point.

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And that shouldn't scare you because it, it will not and does

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not need to happen overnight.

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It's been, in many of my experiences, a, a multi-year journey to get there.

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But that journey is not only.

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Fulfilling and adventurous, but getting to, you know, an end state where

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you've dramatically improved your ability to generate opportunities and,

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and close new business or additional business with your existing customers.

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It's quite fulfilling.

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I guess the second piece I'll just reiterate is that, uh, and I think

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Helen and I both agree wholeheartedly on this, you don't need technology.

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And technology is not the totality of a strategy.

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It's important for scaling and it's important for measuring.

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Um, but if you're just getting started, you don't need to go out

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and spend 50 grand or 25 grand or a hundred grand on an ABM platform.

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So you know, it's important to, to take those baby steps, that pilot approach

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that Helen talked about, as you think about what your approach is gonna be.

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And I guess the final point, Anna and Helen would be, KPIs.

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Measure, measure, measure, compare, compare, compare.

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make sure you've put that framework in place, so that you're, you're

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just not, you know, shooting, shooting in the dark, okay?

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You really need.

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Be hyper focused on, on what constitutes success in your mind.

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And back to Anna's point, um, as you're having those conversations, particularly

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for organizations that have been doing things a very different way for a very

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long time, and then you need to go and explain to your CEO or your board that

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you're gonna be trying it a different way, you need to be prepared to come

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back with the data that says, Guess what?

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We tried this for nine months or six months, uh, or a year.

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Here's how we improved over the baseline of how we would be doing it.

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My recommendation, Mr.

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and Miss CEO, is to double down or triple down our investment abm after you've

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really gotten those learnings and that experience in, in, let's say year one.

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Thank you, both.

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I think there's loads to take from this conversation.

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I think the bit that really resonates with me and anybody that's worked with

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me will know that this is, uh, something I'm constantly talking about, but it's

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that really putting yourself in the customer's shoes and really thinking about

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things from the customer's perspective.

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And I think, you know, without, without that, it's very hard to

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build out an ABM campaign that's really gonna deliver on the kind

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of results that we've talked about.

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Um, so thank you both very much.

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I'll put your, uh, LinkedIn links in the show notes for anybody that

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wants to get in touch with you both.

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There's plenty more that we can discuss in future conversations I'm sure.

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But for now, thank you both very much.

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Thanks for having me, Anna.

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Thank you, Anna.

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Thank you, Helen.

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A lot to dig into there, including very practical tips to get you started with

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your ABM strategy, really brought to life with Helen and Steve's own experiences.

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So thank you ones again to Helen Brown and Steve Bonadio for sharing their wisdom.

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If you like this episode, please spread the word by sharing with someone

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that you think would also enjoy this.

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And coming up in our next episode, I'm joined by Steve Wilberton of

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Zen and Matt Hatton of Recur to expand and update our conversation

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on what makes a successful partner.

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If you missed our first conversation, then take a listen to season two,

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episode two, and join me next time where we'll explore the latest

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in this fast evolving ecosystem.