Ep. 9: Gary Morris – How to Implement Account Based Marketing

Account based marketing is a marketing discipline that, at first glance, sounds like the perfect strategy for any company with a long sales cycle and complex business proposition.  As with so many marketing strategies, much of the disciplined work involved with rolling ABM out successfully is foundational and un-sexy.  Gary Morris, CEO of Successful Channels knows that pain and has codified a great way to approach implementing account-based marketing within an organization.

Gary is a career senior marketing/business executive, entrepreneur, and thought-leader with deep expertise in automated marketing technology, channel strategy, and business innovation strategy.  He has recently built three start-ups from the ground up on his path to leading Successful Channels Inc. and previously held several executive corporate marketing roles in global corporations. (In this episode, he also helps Steven to step up his vocabulary game!)

Foundations of Account Based Marketing

How many of your sales reps, maybe even yourself if you’re a sales rep, are essentially left “flapping in the wind” when it comes to account planning for new customer acquisition?  In his career, Gary noticed that while many reps may have an idea of some of the “what” components involved with successful ABM, there are usually some gaps around the “how,” especially where big picture amalgamation of activities and results shakes out into a set of best practices within organizations.

As with so many business challenges, Gary figures that the way many of us see the problem, is the problem:

He says: “Managing partner relationships today is more often about ‘what deals can we close together today, tomorrow and the next day?’ and although that’s an important component, it is not the basis for building long-term partnerships.”

Architect Your Account Based Marketing Metrics

Finding a set of successful KPIs for partners comes down to understanding each other’s needs and commitments.  Many organizations make the mistake of focusing too narrowly on what partners can do to support the brand’s business goals and overlook the critical facet of seeking symbiosis in the relationship.

Globally, Gary says that companies taking a leading approach will put this notion of synergy first by asking “what does any successful partnership look like in life?” as a first-principals type of foundational question.

Both parties need to make an effort on 4 fronts:

  1. Understand each other’s needs.
  2. Understand each other’s goals.
  3. Communicate what they want from each other.
  4. Make commitments to each other.

The end result should express a combination of partner-valued goals and vendor valued goals where the go-to-market strategies of both companies are as optimally aligned as possible.

The Tactical Take

Gary realizes that we all only have so many hours in the day, and what works in some spaces may not always translate perfectly into others.  Or, put differently, not every tactic in your account-based marketing toolbox is going to deliver equal benefit or be of equal importance.

Here’s where the deep work really needs to happen.  In order to build a scalable, templated approach for ABM success, you need to start by studying who is doing well and codify how their behaviors are driving desirable results.

As Gary puts it, “Partners now are very selective about who they work with.  They’re making an investment in growing their business and growing their services offerings.  Selling a vendor’s brand is a secondary priority (and there needs to be a clear answer to) ‘how does this help me expand my practice?’”

Offering a field-tested, templated and scalable path to success is a powerful partner attractant for an enterprise.  Coupling that set of tools with an “arms around each other” approach to measurement is what will drive loyalty, longevity and growth.

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