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The 4 principles that underpin Oracle’s approach to ABM

Michael Avis, senior director for EMEA marketing at Oracle shared his advice on rolling out ABM during B2B Marketing’s ABM conference, Account-Based Everything. Paul Snell provides a recap

Michael Avis empathises with those marketers just making the switch to ABM. “I know how difficult the transition can be if you have to change your approach,” he says.

The senior director for EMEA marketing at Oracle was addressing the 400 marketers who attended B2B Marketing’s Account-Based Everything conference in November, where B2B Marketing launched its tailored ABM team enablement programme, ABM Head-Start.

At Oracle, the biggest change was in peoples’ mindset – thinking about what customers want, rather than what the company wanted to sell to them. Michael believes ABM is the most effective way of closing the gap between the products they offer and what customers are thinking about.

The two key questions are: ‘What are customers’ aspirations?’ and, more importantly, ‘Who is best placed to talk about these aspirations?’.

Oracle started its ABM programme with just three people, taking over from the existing industry marketing team. There are now eight people in the ABM team (plus Eavis). They currently manage around 93 accounts, which has risen as high as 120. This means each person is responsible for around 10 accounts. “I think that ratio of 10:1 is the absolute maximum. If you’re trying to do strategic ABM with more than 10 you’ll struggle. You’re not giving the marketers a chance to be successful,” said Avis.

Oracle’s approach to ABM is guided by four main principles:

  1. Understand the customer to align to their agenda
  2. Create a transformational conversation and reset perceptions
  3. Increase awareness, build trust and win over multiple stakeholders
  4. Increase engagements and develop future advocates.

Oracle wants to expand its ABM activity to cover not just the buying cycle, but the entire customer cycle. This, says Avis, gives you a much better chance to establish trust and collaboration.

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Turns your first steps into strides

The account journey at Oracle is separated into four main areas:

1. Insight. This can come from a variety of social listening, or intent data. But the best source of insight is from customers. But if you haven’t got that customer insight in the account team, that’s a problem. Equally, you might need to extract that insight from their heads, so you can turn it into a story to tell the customer that’ll change the conversation and perceptions.

2. Perspective. Previously this was termed ‘value proposition’, but changing the name made this more neutral, focused more on customer desires. This really forms the foundation of how you’ll engage with the accounts.

3. Communication. These are the assets. The trick with ABM is to pick the right ones, says Avis. That’s where the insight comes in.

4. Engagement. This where you ultimately want to get to with the customer, where experts from your own organisation are engaging with the experts at the customer’s business.

Avis isn't interested in metrics based around leads and pipeline. He’s keener to increase the number of advocates being created for the Oracle brand.

“I dream of having at least one Oracle brand advocate in each of our key accounts, but that’s a tough thing to actually achieve,” he adds.

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What ABM really means and looks like for marketers