How is ABM adapting to the coronavirus era? We asked five specialists

We spoke to five ABM marketers to find out how they’re adapting their plans in the face of the current crisis, and their recommendations on focus areas for the next few months.

1) Focus more on existing customers – Neil Dowling, Global Integrated Marketing, Genpact

ABM is perfect for strengthening relationships with your existing customers. Right now is an opportunity to focus on your strategic clients by keeping in touch, making sure they’re getting the most out of your services and being generally helpful. Two of Genpact’s strengths are our agility compared to bigger brands and a customer-led mentality. We’ve drawn on those attributes to quickly realign our ABM plans to focus on existing customers, with relevant support that’s been adapted to the current environment.

2) Understand what your customer needs and how you can help – Dominique Hall, Industry Marketing, ServiceNow

Your starting point for ABM shouldn’t be ‘what have I got to sell and who can I sell it to?’, but ‘how can I better understand my customer so I know exactly how to help them?’. And at the moment the focus should absolutely be on helping. When we’re coming out the other side of this, the trust you’ve built with customers will be crucial. Here at ServiceNow we focus first on what’s important to the customer, and so as soon as the extent of the coronavirus crisis became apparent, we had multiple internal teams working together to release free emergency response apps which many customers are now using.

3) Think hard about how and when you’re getting in touch – Mark Larwood, Head of Advocacy Marketing & ABM

This might be the time to dial down some of your other marketing activity and switch resource to ABM. ABM is a great ‘channel’ in the current environment because, where a programme exists, you can quickly build communications and activities that are relevant to an account, helpful and create value. Any outreach should be sensitively delivered and offer genuine and immediate support. My team has audited all planned campaigns as part of our ABM programme to focus on offerings that can support in the Covid-19 crisis, delivered with a consultative and empathetic approach.

4) Remember that impactful outreach isn’t just about assets – Oli Marshall, Head of Strategy, The Marketing Practice

Take time to assess where you’re coming from and where your customer is at. Rather than just replacing one tactic for another, make sure you understand the nature of your customer relationship and prioritise the most valuable conversation based on their current circumstance. Are you a trusted partner or another newbie amongst others? How will you cut through to genuinely help? Your people, your thinking and solutions will be the difference, so consider an approach that brings your team’s personality to life, elevates your points of view and guides customers through your solutions. That may lead you to video, webinars, blogs, product tours and so on rather than the straight swap of a DM for a landing page.

5) Work more closely with sales (yes, even more closely) – Chris Burke, Senior ABM Consultant, The Marketing Practice

The sales process is wildly different today than it was a month ago. And not just because bid presentations can’t happen face to face and salespeople can’t network with prospects at events. It’s the ABM marketer’s job to work with sales and account teams on what we should be communicating now and how to get it across.

From the value proposition, messaging and positioning to the digital tactics, we need to provide guidance and support on how and when we need to approach things differently (and also be able to confidently advise them on the situations where we don’t). Here at TMP we’ve been running social selling webinars to help salespeople adapt, and our Inside Sales specialists are feeding back to our clients’ sales teams what they’re hearing from clients and prospects in their daily conversations as part of ongoing ABM programmes.

It may be that your own ABM programme was already incorporating these approaches pre-2020. But if not, the Covid-19 era could be the catalyst for your organisation to benefit from the best ABM has to offer. And that would be one good thing at least to come out of these very strange times.

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