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ABM | What ABM Isn’t – Some Huge Misconceptions of ABM, and What Works in 2024 (with Christopher Rack)

17 Jun 2024
ABM | What ABM Isn’t – Some Huge Misconceptions of ABM, and What Works in 2024 (with Christopher Rack)

Show Notes

Dave is joined by Christopher Rack, CEO of pharosIQ. Chris is a seasoned leader with a track record of driving remarkable growth. With experience spanning individual contributions to executive leadership, he's led four sales organizations to achieve 10x growth in just 2-3 years. His leadership ethos prioritizes building robust processes and fostering winning cultures rooted in a human-first approach.

They discuss

  • Why alignment between marketing and sales is critical for ABM success
  • How to prove the ROI of our ABM efforts
  • Executing ABM with minimal resources

Plus, they take burning questions live from hundreds of B2B marketers and answer them for you.


  • () - - Audience Interaction and Topic Relevance
  • () - - The Unpredictability of ABM Revenue
  • () - - The Nature of ABM: Strategy over Product
  • () - - ABM Misconceptions: Display Advertising vs. Targeting
  • () - - The Importance of Identifying the Right Target Account List
  • () - - One-to-One and One-to-Few Strategy
  • () - - Automation Tools and Direct Outreach for Revenue Generation
  • () - - Balancing ROI Expectations in Marketing Strategy
  • () - - Critical Questions for Evaluating Intent Data and Proving ABM Success
  • () - - Transitioning to ABM as Startup Sales and Marketing Teams Grow
  • () - - Aligning Sales and Marketing Efforts
  • () - - Re-engaging Churned Customers with Product Updates and Honest Feedback
  • () - - Effective Strategies for Re-engaging Churned Customers
  • () - - Evaluating Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Success"

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Today’s episode is brought to you by PharosIQ.

In 2024, you face tougher pipeline challenges than ever: reduced budgets, tighter resources, and fewer active buyers.

Yet your growth goals remain unchanged.

PharosIQ leverages down-funnel intent signals along with targeted demand solutions to help you build your pipeline efficiently.

They help B2B marketing leaders reach their ideal buyers and generate leads that actually convert for businesses of all sizes.

Generating leads is easy; generating leads that convert is what separates PharosIQ from the competition.

Check them out at; book a meeting with their team …PLUS, their team is giving away memberships to Exit Five so go check out their website that’s P-H-A-R-O-S-I-Q dot com slash exitfive one word right now.


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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:01]:
Exit, exit, exit. We're live. It's the top of the hour. This is the webinar. That's not a web. We don't call it a webinar. We call it a live session. Webinars are great if you do them right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:22]:
Anyway, so here's the deal. I'm Dave, this is Chris. We're going to do intros in a minute, but as people roll in right now, I just want to make sure everything's working okay. I want to make sure we can see you and hear that you're there. I want you to go into the chat and put in, in the chat, please, your name, where you're writing in from. So I'll set this up. Dave. Burlington, Vermont.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:40]:
Chris is overseas. Chris is in Belfast right now doing the. Doing the travel circuit. He wouldn't be the first person that has done a webinar with us in a. In a hotel room. Very executive move, the webinar in the hotel room. So nice. We got Jess in Denver, Carol's in Raleigh.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:57]:
Alicia's in LA. Gabe's in Vegas. Bill's in Phoenix. Jennifer's in Mexico. Amber's in North Virginia. Julia from Napa wills in Colorado Springs, Katrina Joyce from Joyzy. James in Northern Ireland. Shout out to James.

Chris Rack [00:01:11]:
I'm there too. For yet. I mean, I'm in Northern Ireland as well.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:15]:
James, let's go. You guys can go have a. What would you eat and what would you have after this? What's the food like over there?

Chris Rack [00:01:21]:
It's like pub food. You would go get, you know, like a pint in a fish and chips or something. Nature. Northern Ireland is technically the UK.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:28]:
Get a pint. Get a pint. That's good. All right, so everybody's rolling in. So my name is Dave, Dave Gerhart. I am the founder of exit five. This is my great guest today, Chris Reich. He's the CEO of Ferro Psyq.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:42]:
Gotten to know each other over the last couple weeks. Just ripped through his presentation. I'm pumped for this one. ABM is consistently one of the most popular topics that we cover. And our goal with exit five is to help you grow your career in b two B, marketing through our content and our community. And today, this is content. This is a session that is open to everybody, not just members. What's cool about these sessions is we got 600 people register.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:05]:
A couple hundred people will show up live. But there's a little bit of a longer tail with this as we turn these into podcast episodes. And so somebody might be listening now in a couple of weeks, out on a walk, cleaning the house, out on a run. Thanks for tuning in with us to get smarter about b two B marketing real quick in the chat, I want to know why you're here. Out of all the things you could do, what is it that you want to know about ABM? Why take the time out of your day to spend a session about ABM? If you could throw that in the chat real quick just so Chris and I can see. I love seeing some of those comments. And so while we do that, Chris, why don't you do a quick intro? Tell us about who you are, tell us about pharaohs before we get into your presentation.

Chris Rack [00:02:39]:
Chris. Awesome. I'm Chris Rack, the CEO of Ferros IQ. We are a demand generation solutions company powered by what we consider kind of downfunnel intent signals. We help b two b marketers turn those down, funnel intent signals and turn them into leads and pipeline for your sales and marketing organizations. I've been in the demand generation space for just shy of 20 years. Companies like Zip, Davis, Spiceworks, and most recently a larger company called Demand Science where I was the CRO for multiple years there. So really, really pumped to be here.

Chris Rack [00:03:10]:
I've been watching the podcast since drift, since you. Since you were drifting.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:14]:
I can't wait. I'm finally going to. I finally got the call up. They called me in from the bullpen. I'm going to go on your show, be the boring in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to that. Maybe we'll be able to replay some of the hits from the drift days. By the way, some of the reasons people are here right now. Nat, general overview of best practices and platforms to you for ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:33]:
Rebecca, not getting enough roi from existing ABM motions. Mark, I think you'll be good. This is a wheelhouse for you. Mark wants to cut through the b's from the big ABM vendors and hearing what's really working that doesn't rely on proprietary tools. Man, if that is a good lead into your presentation today. So I'm excited. Here's what we're going to do. Chris has a presentation that's probably about 25 minutes slides.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:55]:
I might pop in, interrupt, ask a question, but since we have him here with us, I want to spend a bunch of time with Q and A. So do me a favor. There is a q and a box and you can go and put your questions in there. And that makes it easier for me than putting them in the chat. Because if you put them in the q and a. All of the people that are listening can upvote answers, and so I can serve them up to Chris. We'll have plenty of time. We want to help you with your ABM strategy at the end of this.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:16]:
So hang in there, Chris. Without further ado, let's turn it over to you, man, and let's talk about what ABM is not and what it is in 2024.

Chris Rack [00:04:24]:
Awesome. Somebody in the chat asked me directly if they could talk to me afterwards about some of my previous spots that I've been at. Right. The answer is yes. You can hit me up on LinkedIn at Christopher Rack directly. I'm happy to chat with anybody directly after the webinar, I just happen to see someone pop through. Okay. I'm going to attempt to share my screen, which is, you know, obviously, I'm a former sales human, so it's not something that's going to be.

Chris Rack [00:04:48]:
I'm a former sales human turned executive, which is not my forte. So ABM has been really all the rage for probably about 15 years now. Right. But not a lot of people talk about whether it actually works. Right. And some of the data out there, you know, looking at Gartner Forest or recent surveys, is that it might tell you that, you know, it doesn't work as often as you think. So what we're going to do here today is really going to dive into that. And the real answer is that ABM can work, but it's not a layup.

Chris Rack [00:05:17]:
It's not guaranteed. It's not something you should just click an ABM button and revenue and deals just start rolling through. Today we're going to dive into what I consider is a renaissance happening in the ABM space. Some changes that are happening from what was to what will be in the journey, how I'm going to attack it will start with what ABM absolutely isn't. Right. I've always found it more fascinating myself to understand what something isn't, to better phrase in what it is. And then we can talk a little bit about some of the ways that you can be successful with ABM in 2024 and going forward. And I say in 2024 and going forward because, especially for those of you in tech, but other industries as well, whatever playbook you had in 2018 to 2022, it is gone.

Chris Rack [00:06:06]:
Right. We are in a very, very different world. And, you know, what's important is that we take those tactics and those playbooks and really change them and adapt them for what is a new market and what is a new world that has changed since the turn of the economy. So I'm going to dive in. But first and foremost, ABM isn't new in its product form. It's probably been around for about 15 years, but some of us have been doing ABM since probably the late nineties. We just called it sales. And with the emergence of ABM technology and different vendors, vendors in essence, created this space by giving it a name.

Chris Rack [00:06:42]:
It turned into this wildfire concept that everybody had to have. ABM really took fire and became unnew when the buyer journey changed. It's one of those things that you see, you read on LinkedIn all the time where someone says the buyer's journey has changed. And again, I've been doing this for 20 years, and the buyer's journey has changed 26 times in that amount of time. But really, the only thing that's really changed about the buyer's journey is that marketing is now more responsible for getting information into prospects hands. In the nineties and early two thousands, sales carried a large part of that load. So it was a very one to one communication style. But ABM emerged because marketing became more responsible for driving that information.

Chris Rack [00:07:25]:
And they realized that they had to start focusing that information on specific accounts like sales used to. But again, buyers just didn't want to engage with that seller until later in the process. Thus the emergence of ABM. And again, I'm still seeing webinars and slides talking about trying out the new ABM solution, and it really just isn't.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:45]:
I love that you said that, because it's interesting to think about the history of sales. Like, back then, sales could have all of the control because information wasn't widely accessible.

Chris Rack [00:07:54]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:54]:
And so it's like I had to talk to you as the sales guy, Chris, and then you told me all about the product where, like, now it's completely flipped. I could find everything I want to know about Ferros or exit five without ever having to talk to somebody at the actual company.

Chris Rack [00:08:07]:
Exactly. And that's really the key pivot in the buyer's journey that I think most of the analysts miss. They talk about buyer preference, but they just want to get data in a way that they can trust. Right. And that's most efficient for them. Right. And really it just comes down to where most early stage research gathering is done through marketing and through digital channels, because it's most efficient, most late stage buyers decisions, peer reviews, asking friends, talking to sales, looking at demos is handled by sales because there's a trust factor that comes in that last stage of the journey, that handshake. That means, hey, I'm going to buy from you, and I trust that you're going to do me well.

Chris Rack [00:08:45]:
Secondly, ABM is not a product, no matter what a vendor says or multiple vendors say, who've shaped the industry. Those who want you to think that you need a $70,000 platform to do ABM, those who think that ABM display or pushing out display solutions through a programmatic platform is ABM. It's not. No matter what vendor wants you to think that, I can assure you that it's not and that you don't need those tools to do those things. ABM is absolutely a strategy. It is a combination of multiple tactics across multiple departments and multiple business units to drive to a cohesive goal. It also doesn't have to be over complicated or expensive. ABM can be two people, an Excel spreadsheet and a crazy idea that require $0.00 investment and zero platformer solutions.

Chris Rack [00:09:39]:
Showing return on investment with ABM solutions does not have to be as complicated as most think that it should be. I saw a couple of chats just joining in about ABM challenges where people are having a hard time showing ROI. And that's because most platforms who sell the ABM dream attach their delivery or their services to programmatic ad display. And it's really difficult to attribute return on investment to that solution. It's there, but it's hard for an executive to grasp that concept. So you do not need any sort of product or solution or platform to do ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:14]:
You don't need a specific technology tool or platform to do ABM. I think this is the biggest thing. When you initially started sharing the content for this deck, I think that is the one thing, and we all are in a sea of messages from vendors out there who it's got to be done with their software. But, like, for me, I'm not a sales guy, but one of the best books that I've ever read is the ultimate sales machine by Chet Holmes, which is published in 2007. And he talks about this concept of the Dream 100, where, like, if you're selling any product, you want to make a target list of 100 people that you want to buy your product. And like you said, you could do that with a spreadsheet and just sending emails, and that can be ABM. But we've come today where oftentimes we see questions about ABM come up in our community. And people equate ABM to, like, display advertising, showing ads to target accounts.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:01]:
And what drew me to your content, Chris was like, oh, that's one thing you can do. But that is not what ABm is.

Chris Rack [00:11:08]:
Kudos to those vendors, really. Kudos to those vendors for creating a brand. They turned their software into the Kleenex of ABM for many years. The renaissance is happening right now because finally people are like, I don't think it's actually working. People are starting to reevaluate those purchase decisions. CFO's are getting involved and asking the really tough questions. Questions, right. These things happen in a down economy.

Chris Rack [00:11:31]:
And that's what's happening to the ABM space right now. ABM can't be the only playbook. ABM tactically is a great idea. Identifying target accounts and creatively approaching them in ways that will open up those accounts. My favorite ABM campaign ever was done by Spotify when they were trying to sell more businesses on Spotify advertising. And they actually wrote songs, their target buyers. They had ten target buyers at ten of the biggest advertisers in the world. And they wrote and produced custom songs for those ten people.

Chris Rack [00:12:03]:
They sent those custom songs to those ten people and eight of them turned into meetings and revenue within that next six month period. That's ABM. What happened after that CEO? It's a great story. The CEO comes down after you do that and they say, okay, we need to do that again and again and again. It works so well that it becomes almost detrimental to the success going forward. And companies over focus on ABM and forget that there's an entire green field out there of accounts that you may not know are interested in your solution, that you might not know are a fit in industry, that you don't know is adopting your technology or your service or your product in a way that you never thought that they would. That's why you can't just focus on ABM. You have to have this greenfield mentality where you're kind of going out there and testing the waters.

Chris Rack [00:12:52]:
Because your next big industry or your next big customer that might become your next five customers might be in an industry or a company or a type of buyer that you just don't know where you can't see yet. And that especially happens in more early stage companies.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:06]:
So you can't see this, but I'm going to read it to you. Brendan hall in the chat says, burning the haystack to find the needle isn't a strategy. Preach. And then all caps preach. Shout this from the rooftop.

Chris Rack [00:13:15]:
Yeah, I've said that for a whole lot of years, right? Like at the haystack. Needle reference. I think I might even have it in my notes somewhere. But that's really great. It's a really great analogy, right? That you can't just ignore all of your other potential buyers just for the sake of winning a couple big fish. That's why ABM really can't be the only part of the playbook that's happening a little bit too often these days. So we talked a little bit about what ABM isn't. So I wanted to talk a little bit about how I've seen customers and how my team has done some what I consider ABM well, and how you can apply account based marketing strategies.

Chris Rack [00:13:52]:
Notice I didn't say products or solutions in 2024 and beyond. First thing that you have to do is ask yourself the question, is my company, product or service a fit for account based marketing? Not everyone is. You might not have a solution, service or product. You might have a Tam that's just too big. That focusing on a specific group of accounts is a waste of time because there's so much opportunity out there. B two c companies don't do Abm. They don't focus on trying to sell me tacos because TaM is so large that they just don't do it that way. There are some companies that have huge tams, that have huge target account total addressable markets, that focusing on a small few customers is really costing you money because your law of diminishing returns, of not focusing on the huge audience.

Chris Rack [00:14:39]:
From there, you might not have the resources, talent, budget or skill on your team to do it. You have to have either the experience, the will or the willpower to go out and do some custom creative stuff. And you have to have buy in from your executive team or your leadership team to go out and try those things. If you don't have those things, you're ice skating uphill and you're never going to see success. And this is one of the biggest reasons why that first slide that we saw some Forrester, that 42% of ABM campaigns struggle to show return on investment and one out of five campaigns aren't successful or are built on quicksand. Because if you don't have true buy in into the journey that you're going down and you're not willing to tell your CEO that, no, this isn't scalable, we're going to focus on these 25 accounts and we're going to win them. And I can't make it bigger. It's really going to be challenging.

Chris Rack [00:15:32]:
The second thing that I think is missed by almost all ABM practitioners and almost all B two B marketers is identifying the right target account list. So we talk a lot about tactic in the ABM space and B two B marketing space. Should I use email? Should we be cold calling? Should we do webinars? Should we do podcasts? Should I go to events? Should I do all xxx? Tactic, tactic, tactic, tactic? 75% of all the conversations are about the tactic, right? But you could have the best tactic sent to the wrong account and it's not going to perform and you could have the shittiest tactics sent to the right account and it's going to work. And I tell this to my team all the time. I could send these shittiest templated email to the right person who happens to be thinking about my products or solutions right now, and that shitty email will turn into a meeting. I can send the greatest, most customized, beautifully written email to somebody who just bought a competitor of mine a week ago, and that's never going to turn into a meeting.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:29]:
I'll give you an example. When I was vp of marketing at drift, I had my first kid and I posted about it on LinkedIn. And so every SaaS vendor in the space was just sending me gifts left and right. And it was great. One company sent me diapers, which is amazing, the best direct mail I've ever gotten. But it didn't create a need or a sense of urgency for me to actually take the meeting. And so I was like a thoughtful thing, maybe I posted a picture about it and like you get some brand love for that reason. But if I don't have an actual need to buy the product or what's not relevant for me, then it just ends up being a waste anyway.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:00]:
And I do see that a lot where another thing people think about with ABM, Chris, is like that we mentioned the display ads thing. People also think like ABM is sending stuff in the mail. Like that play doesn't necessarily like everybody knows Cialdini the reciprocity play, and that's an old tactic. Now, just because you sent me something doesn't mean I'm going to now give you the meeting. And I think this is a perfect example of that.

Chris Rack [00:17:21]:
Timing is really everything, and it's also the hardest thing. There's one and a half vendors in the space who've solved for timing from a vendor perspective who have true intent, if you will. One of them is Google, and the second one's bing. When you go into a search engine and type in, I'm looking for demand generation solutions, Google is the only vendor that does a great job of capturing that. You have intent. That's why Google is a trillion dollar business from an advertising perspective. Which leads me to the point about intent. Most intent data in our space is absolute bullshit.

Chris Rack [00:17:53]:
I work in the space. I've worked in it for many, many years. Almost all intent data is driven by two sources. One, bitstream data, which is ripped advertising queue data where they're tracking whether somebody views a website. And that's really not intent or co ops, where there's a collection or cooperative of websites where again, they traffic simple website traffic. Right. Most intent in our space is intent to learn. I'm not doubting that buyers are reading websites, right? But there's a very, very big difference between intent to learn and intent to purchase.

Chris Rack [00:18:25]:
And there's very few vendors who are doing intent to purchase. Well, right now. Second, sales can't be a wish list, right? Too many times over, I see ABM lists that have the Fortune 500 or the top 750 accounts in the world where sales just sits down and says, we need to get into these accounts and I don't want to do any work. Go ahead, marketing. Do your ABM thing. There has to be some sort of data logic or structure behind it. Does your product fit great with an industry? Is there? What do your top five customers look like? Find people who look like them and build your ABM that way. So really building your ABM list is really about finding that.

Chris Rack [00:18:59]:
Goldilocks. It has to be big enough to be approachable and you can play around with it a bit. It has to be a bit lofty to where you're trying to break into significant accounts because you might have to spend extra time or resources to get there, but it has to be somewhat rooted in data. You just can't go and put together an account list just because the CEO or your sales team wants to crack into these accounts and there's no real relevance to them. Then finally, ABM is not scalable. I might be on an island alone in this, but I do not believe that one too many ABM is a thing that's just targeted marketing. That's just taking your audience and segmenting it down based on triggers and doing regular b two B marketing. I believe one to one and one to few ABM solutions are true ABM.

Chris Rack [00:19:45]:
And that's when I said earlier that ABM is really going through a renaissance. Right. I do believe that ABM in 2024 and going forward will be more one to one and one to few, where you're really focusing on what are the very top opportunities. Just because there's significantly less companies in market, there's less funding, interest rates are high, there's less money being put into the world, and when there's less money being put in the world, there's less in market buyers. So attacking the really big fish is going to be even more important. So again, this is not something that you can grant cardone for your CEO. You cannot ten exit no matter how much he wants you to. And you have to be willing to have that conversation to say, hey, I'm going to use this and I'm going to break into these accounts, but don't come to me and ask me how to scale it because it just logically is not scalable.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:36]:
Anthony in the chat says one to many is explicitly not ABM. Good, good. ABM isn't scalable as the plays need to be unique to the account. Though the operation of building an ABM team and program can be scaled.

Chris Rack [00:20:48]:
Correct. I do agree that if you have a very robust product suite, say you're an oracle, we have 72 different products. You can have 72 segmented ABM programs that are all one to few and very specific product markets, industries, buyer Personas, etcetera. So I do agree that it can be scalable that way. But the concept of one to many, I agree absolutely that it's just a flawed concept. It's not ABM, it's just b, two b marketing. So I want to just take 2 seconds to end, right, and talk a little proof, a little proof case of how ABM can be successful without a platform, without a solution, without any of that, right? So my version and our version at Ferrous IQ, our version of ABM is our B to Boring podcast. You know, what we've done with the podcast is I've connected with b, two b marketing decision makers on LinkedIn.

Chris Rack [00:21:35]:
I have some automation tools that do it and I do a lot direct myself as well. And if there's a target customer or a target buyer or just somebody interesting, I invite them under the podcast personally, we get a fair amount of people who are interested in building their personal brand and joining. We invite them on the show, we talk, we chat, and at the end of that I'll casually ask them if they're interested in kind of hearing a little bit more about our solutions. If not, we put them in a nice email and SDR outreach nurture from there. And just in the roughly six months that we've had the podcast up and live, we've generated about 250 of revenue from it, and it cost $0. I don't have any fancy podcast technology or Riverside or any of that stuff. I just use Zoom and record it. And myself and my marketing team edit to the best of our editing capabilities to keep things clean.

Chris Rack [00:22:23]:
So this is an example, kind of what I call the renaissance of ABM, where it's a little bit scrappy. It's not perfect. It might not be the prettiest. You know, I'm not Chris Walker with 4K HD video cameras following me around everywhere, but we're able to make it work from that perspective.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:38]:
He's on a laptop from a hotel in Belfast. That's pretty good. Pretty good for me. All right. That was awesome. That was great. We got a bunch of questions while we're talking about examples, though, before I have a bunch of questions. So go to the Q and A.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:50]:
Thanks, Chris. Take a drink of water, deep breath, whatever you need while we get ready and go to the Q and A. I have a bunch of questions in there. Now. This is your chance. Chris and I, we got a good 30 minutes right now. Like, this is your chance. I know why you're here.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:02]:
You're here to get smarter about ABM for your job. Chris is a great resource on this. Like, let's get your questions in there and help you personally right now, but in the chat. So Chris used that one example of the ABM play with the podcast. Does anybody else have a great ABM play or example? Because anytime we talk about ABM, people love the examples. That's a good example from Chris. Put yours in the chat. I would like to hear a couple other examples.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:24]:
And Brendan says, in the chat, will these slides be available to us? Yes, absolutely. We'll get them from the team and we'll send them over. So I want to know what a good example of ABM campaigns that you've seen in the chat. I'm going to sprinkle those in, and I'm going to flip over and do this Q and a here. So here's the first question. This question is from Brody. Do you think ABM should be focused on long term business versus short term? And that's a good one, because this is something that a lot of us marketers struggle with. It's like, how do I like youre doing this beta, boring thing, which is ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:56]:
We also want to hit the number now. We need to have goals this quarter. So how do you balance, how do you think about ABM long term versus short term?

Chris Rack [00:24:01]:
My personal take is that all marketing is playing the long game. And it really comes down to demand capture versus demand creation. I think ABM is a function of demand creation and explaining to your executive team, because thats where that question comes from. We want marketing to show ROI now and that stress is only gaining, right. So having that conversation and saying, hey, we have a budget specifically designed for demand capture paid search, paid HQL programs like really down funnel stuff that we're going to attack with this budget set. But our ABM budget set is playing the long game, right? And we're going to dedicate this budget into these big accounts that we know might take, in some cases, 612, 18 months to penetrate into. Because really it comes down to there's roughly only 5% of your target audience who's in market to buy at any time in b two b, right. It's not cereal.

Chris Rack [00:24:47]:
People don't buy it every day and there's not 200 million transactions. So your job as a marketer is to, if there are people in market, try to catch them, try to catch those fish. But more importantly, when you have prospect who's not in market, once that problem comes up, and they are, you want them to think of you first. And that's what some of those ABM plays are. And that's the difference between kind of creation and capture. So the short answer is, it's not an easy solution, right? Cause everybody's got a boss and everybody wants ROI on their spend, like yesterday. And there's only so many people looking to buy right now. But by setting the expectation to your team, your leaders, that, hey, a lot of this is the long game and you're gonna see return on investment, but it's gonna come here and here.

Chris Rack [00:25:28]:
And if you can showcase that picture, most executives will, will be able to understand that, hey, I'm in. But you better hit those numbers 612 months down the line like you're saying you're going to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:38]:
Nice. Brody says, great answer, Chris. Good job. And then just a follow on from Alex. Alex says, layering on Brody's question, how do you balance ABM for new logo accounts versus expansion on existing accounts?

Chris Rack [00:25:50]:
Yeah, I mean, I think expansion on existing accounts is one of the most under marketed things in b two b right now. Right. Especially given a lot of software and solutions and services companies have multiple product suites that they can offer. You have the customer, you're already approved vendor, you've already gone through the procurement, you've already done all the hard stuff. It's really just about expanding and educating from that perspective. So I would if it were me. In this market. Again, in a tough economy, we have to try to laser focus on the most low hanging fruit.

Chris Rack [00:26:21]:
I'd be putting 80% of my efforts into my current customers and then expanding them. The quid pro quo there is. If I had a product that was multifaceted that I could upsell and cross sell into different business units, etcetera. What you can't do right now is try to sell more seats because everybody's seat count is going down. If you have a very singular one seat, one solution product, then obviously you're going to focus a lot more of your time on new logo ABM because you don't have the flexibility to do it. So, short answer. If you have a product suite that is built for upsell cross sell, 80% of my spend time and effort is going right there first.

Dave Gerhardt [00:26:56]:
Love that business 101. Get more revenue from your existing customers. Right. This is something that I always forget, we always go back to, and that's the play for expansion. So, Mark, next question is Mark says, what's your process for getting to that Goldilocks target account list? What types of questions should you ask or brainstorm with sales? What other metrics or account dimensions are most important?

Chris Rack [00:27:18]:
That's a lot of questions, Mark. That's a good question. Come on, Mark, you're killing me here. Like I consulting time. No, it's great. So the first question is, how do you get to the Goldilocks ABM list? And I think first thing I would do is I would. I would look at my trailing six months of CRM data and look at my close ones and look at my closed lost and look at the a. You're looking at volume of opportunities created, and then you're looking at your win rates across different types, right? So you're looking for trends across that data.

Chris Rack [00:27:50]:
Just looking at revenue by account is not a great way to do it because you might have a whole lot of close lost from a very specific industry, which means that there's interest in your product, but you're just missing somewhere, either in messaging pitch or that first thing to do is look at your company's data. Who am I winning? Who am I generating a lot of opportunities with and maybe losing and then trying to find people who look like that. That's where I would absolutely start. If, you know, in my space at Ferros IQ, we sell a lot to software and technology companies. My biggest customer is Cisco. I spend a lot of my time trying to find people who look like Cisco from a product and security standpoint. So after that, you can start getting into some of the external sources of data. I call them triggers.

Chris Rack [00:28:35]:
And every industry has very certain triggers. If I'm selling billboards and I'm driving down the street and I see a company advertising on a billboard, that's a trigger for me. I'm going to want to go after that company. It's really about finding about for your company, what are your sales team's triggers? If I'm selling recruiting solutions, a company that's showing a lot of growth, that would be a trigger. If I'm selling cleaning services, a company that just purchased a big new facility would be a trigger. In my space, again, I sell demand generation solutions. When someone has a webinar, or someone is promoting a white paper, or someone is putting their content or their services out there, that's a trigger for me, that I should be focusing on them. Look at your data first, find your trigger second, and then there is opportunity to take advantage of some, let's call it trigger or signal, or quote unquote, intent data in the space.

Chris Rack [00:29:27]:
I'll warn you on intent data is that there's a lot of shitty stuff out there, but there are some good ones out there. And the questions to ask when you start diving into intent data is first, ask your vendor, do they share their data with anybody else or do they purchase it with anybody else? Because most intent data in the space right now is the same data sold by 17 different vendors under a different name. The second question to ask is, what makes it a signal? Is it just because somebody went to a website? That's not a signal for me. A signal for me is someone who raised their hand and maybe read a piece of content that was more down funnel, like a case study or a comparison report, or somebody who went to a review site or somebody who did something that showcased, hey, I'm evaluating solutions. There are vendors in the space that have that type of data. And I think by combining those three things, you can really get to a pretty good Goldilocks. Right. Notice in that particular equation, I didn't say ask sales, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a good relationship with your sales team, but in this particular case, sales will never be able to give you.

Chris Rack [00:30:27]:
They'll have a hard time giving you a tangible target account list because they're always going to want you to chase the biggest accounts that are the hardest for them to crack, because that's how salespeople do things. And I know that because I am one. They're looking for the path of least resistance to the most money in their pocket. And a lot of that is giving you the hard work so they can just show up, have a dinner and close the deal.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:48]:
Here's a good one from Christina. How do you ultimately prove that ABM is or is not working?

Chris Rack [00:30:54]:
The easiest way to do it is to directly track whatever you did to a meeting through Salesforce into an opportunity, into revenue. That's the easiest way and that's the way that your CEO is going to be able to understand it the most. You can go down attribution pathways, right? Single touch, multi touch, first touch, last touch, all of that. I will warn you that that's usually where most ROI stories get lost. If I brought my CFO, who's one of my good friends and an amazing human, an attribution story to talk about how we did these four things, and we attributed one and a half percent of those touches to this revenue across these campaigns, we would just turn himself off and say, this doesn't make any sense to me. Right. So generating return on your investment is the hardest thing to do for a marketer. It's really just not easy because especially as you're probably hearing in the space, having that brand presence is becoming more important and doing the things that are less tangible from a lead perspective.

Chris Rack [00:31:49]:
And it's not as cut and dry. So I think the best way to do it is appease your executive team with something fairly simple like paper leads or content syndication programs where you can directly and simply say, this person downloaded a white paper. We followed up with them, we had a meeting and we generated revenue. Some of that just to showcase a guaranteed if I give you money, you're going to give me something back and then combine it with other bigger brand plays like a podcast or maybe a billboard in a specific event or something of that nature. So kind of dabbling in things that feel safe for an executive, allow them make for easier return on investment. Also, make sure your revops person is your best friend. I used to call it sales ops, but now all the cool kids are calling it revops and marketing ops and GTM. GTM Ops, hashtag GTM.

Chris Rack [00:32:36]:
Everyone's GTM now. But now, like make friends with that person because the revenue sits in your CRM, right? And being able to connect that revenue in Salesforce or HubSpot or whatever CRM you use to your marketing programs is probably vital. So becoming really close friends with the person who can do that for you is vital to that piece of success.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:57]:
I have a question. This question comes from Dave. If somebody out there is like listening to this and they're like should we be doing ABM or not? Is there like a company size, what youre selling revenue stage? Whats a broad strokes like benchmark to figure out if you should be taking this approach? I think historically people would say, oh, its got to be x dollars of average contract value. But im curious to hear how you.

Chris Rack [00:33:20]:
Would think about that really, really early stage startups that are just scrappy and starting almost everything theyre doing is ABM. Most of them are founder led, the founders reaching out to people individually to invite them to join or test or things. All of those really early stage startup stuff are inherently all ABM because you just don't have the resources or bandwidth to target a large audience. So I think I would say once you start getting into that point where you've got a small selling team with a sales leader, you've got a marketing leader, maybe two contractors, or a small marketing team where you have people who can collaborate on ideas to deliver creative ideas to ten accounts if you have the resources or bandwidth to put together a very creative targeted attack at ten accounts. And again, I would say that's probably once you start getting up to a million of revenue or a million of I don't say ARR because believe it or not, for all the SaaS folks out there, there are companies that don't sell things on an ARR basis. So it's just revenue for them. But you don't have to be huge. And I think probably it's easier to do ABM when you're small because the resources you do have, you have to really make sure they're going after the right accounts.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:33]:
One of the things I love about it is taking an ABM approach to sales and marketing. It kind of stitches together all of the typical bullshit that comes with questions about credit and marketing is doing things that sales doesn't believe in. Like I had a great podcast with Hilary Carpio, who runs ABM at Snowflake, and we talked about just like how we're joking about this revenue team thing. But it is a strong trend of sales and marketing working together to generate pipeline and close deals at Target. Accounts versus marketing is doing this stuff sales is grumbling about. We don't know what they're doing. We're just over here closing our own book of business. It does feel like it does solve a lot of the alignment issues.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:12]:
You know what I'm trying to articulate?

Chris Rack [00:35:13]:
Yeah. I mean, sales and marketing alignment has been the topic of podcasts and webinars since sales and marketing existed. Think it probably will be for the next hundred years as well too. But ABM is a great way to align because what ABM is and what I think true sales and marketing alignment is, it's a series of agreements. It's not about seeing the vision and who takes credit and all that, because there's always going to be egos and there's always going to be politics. Bullshit. But somebody asked me one time, what's an MQL? And I was like, well, everybody defines it different. And that marketer was like wrong.

Chris Rack [00:35:44]:
An MQL is a contract between marketing and sales on what a good lead lead is. I think thats what ABM is as well. Its a contract between marketing and sales on how to attack the accounts that have the highest propensity to buy by putting it down and writing it down and having that plan. Its that agreement that creates that sales and marketing synergy. I think that kind of bleeds into other stuff as well. Thats sales and marketing alignment. Its really a series of contracts. Whats a good lead, whatever acronym that you use for leads in your organization because ive heard no less than 50 of them.

Chris Rack [00:36:18]:
Just make sure that everybody agrees on what those are and how many we need and who's going to do what with them. If you have those three contracts, you'll always have sales and marketing alignment and ABM, to your point, Dave is a great way to do it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:31]:
First time I ever really worked closely, I was ahead of marketing. Like young head of first time head of marketing startup that I was at. They just hired a VP of sales, and this guy was like a 20 year veteran. Like seasoned. I'm the young marketer who's never done this before. He comes in, he starts, he's like, all right, let's dig into the funnel. I show him all the data. He's like, hey man, we got to have a hard conversation.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:51]:
I'm like, what? He's like, these are not mqLs. What you have is contacts. These are contacts. These are email addresses. These are not mqls. And that was like the first big dump of cold water on me to realize the difference. And I think it's table stakes in today's digital world to just acquire names of people. It's the MQL level, the intent level that if you can drive that, that's what this actually looks like and that's what's actually going to drive revenue, right?

Chris Rack [00:37:16]:
Yeah. Some sales leaders would call the MQL the contact name that you have to turn into their SQL. There's so many different languages spoken that it's just all about like, I even challenge everyone from a sales and marketing alignment to create a contract, write it down, make the vp of sales sign it. Right. Like, it sounds hokey, but because what happens is, especially in downtimes, sales is going to struggle and sales is going to come blame marketing, because that's what sales does. And when things are going really, really well, sales is going to jump up and say that we're awesome because that's what sales does.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:48]:
I've been on the other side too. I've been saying, look at all the leads we're generating. So I can't sales close any of these? Like, what are we doing? Brody says in the chat, I'm so grateful that you hosted this webinar. I appreciate all the information. Keep it up. I got some more questions for you, sir. Here we go. This one is from Shreya.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:05]:
Is there a different ABM approach that you would take for boomerang customers?

Chris Rack [00:38:09]:
I'm old, so I'm not down with the cool kids lingo. How are we defining a boomerang customer?

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:14]:
Maybe someone that churned and came back.

Chris Rack [00:38:16]:
Okay, so like a win back ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:18]:
Approach, I think, yeah. From your world you would call this a win back.

Chris Rack [00:38:21]:
Okay, got it. So I mean, generally, just freestyle.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:26]:
Let's freestyle on the spot for them.

Chris Rack [00:38:28]:
Right now, win backs are the hardest ABM approach, right. Because really what happened is that trust that happened in the last part of that buying cycle between marketing sales and the customer got broken by whatever reason, right? Some sort of performance issue or some metric or sometimes timing or sometimes weird things happen with budget cuts and things of that nature. But really you have to try to build it back. First off, I would give it time. I would segment my ABM approach on win backs based on a certain given time just to let things settle down. Right. And my personal take and my style is a little bit different holistically. But I think the best way to build back trust is a, admitting that something happened and then b saying something funny.

Chris Rack [00:39:10]:
So if I'm doing an ABM approach on a win backside, right. The first message I'm going to send to someone is, I'm sorry, we sucked. Right. And the second thing is I'm going to send something funny and try to make them realize that I'm human. And sometimes even vendors and humans miss. And that doesn't mean that the solution isn't a fit, right. So that's how I would attack it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:28]:
I think it starts with first understanding. Like so. So they said in the chat, yes, it's a win back. Customers who had churned, I think it also first starts with an understanding of, like, why they churned. And then you can under, like, so one thing I've seen done in the past is, uh, we had it either from our CEO or VP of sales, but basically anyone that churned after that, we would send them an email from the CEO and just say, like, hey, I saw you checked out. You know, I saw you were using Ferros and you ended up canceling or whatever. Like, I want to help us get better. What were some of the reasons? And ask a bunch of specific questions.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:58]:
And then based on those responses, you can then figure out, like, where they might fit in the nurture track. Like, maybe it's a feature that you didn't have, but you know is coming at some point. And I like the idea of that is an audience you can always continue to market to. And so say you are at a company where you're shipping regular updates or making constant improvement to the product. Is there an opportunity where you probably can't do this all the time, but maybe 60 or 90 days, you go back to the list of people who have churned and say, like, hey, here's what's changed with our product in the last x, Y and Z days, and maybe it's time to come back. Or maybe there's some new partnership or special feature. I think it's almost like good product marketing in some ways.

Chris Rack [00:40:34]:
Yeah, I mean, I think you nailed that. I wrote that, the CEO email on the churn. Right. I'm going to definitely steal that from.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:40]:
You because I think, well, I think this is a slippery one. Like, I think a lot of people want to be like, and do you want to still buy? But if you come in with the straight up, like, look, I don't want to get you on a call. I don't want to sell you anything. Like a straight up, help us do better feedback type email. I feel like that people are pretty.

Chris Rack [00:40:55]:
Receptive to those types of things. I used a company back in the day that did, like, enps scoring, right? Where we would ask anybody who bought or anybody, like, we would send them just regular, quick surveys that are, you know, and then just kind of tagged them up and took some notes and took some data. Right. The hardest thing is, like, when someone churns and sales reaches out and is like, oh, what happened? Right. It just feels kind of like I'm trying to win you back no matter what. Right? So find whoever it is in your organization that's the least salesy, whatever title or whatever person that can reach out and be like, hey, we're just, could be, again, it could be head of product, could be CEO, could be someone like, hey, I'm here to just learn. Right? And sometimes we're going to miss because our products evolving. Can you help me? And in some cases incentivize it, right? Hey, here's a dollar 25 Dunkin card right on me.

Chris Rack [00:41:41]:
If you're willing to spend 15 minutes asking some questions about why you churned and what happens there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:41:46]:
This question is from Jess. What do you consider the max number of accounts for a one to many approach? So is there a cap on where we want to take a targeted account approach to marketing? Is there a cap on that to be ABM?

Chris Rack [00:41:59]:
Unless you're a really huge company with, you know, again, I wouldn't say like a target account list is bigger than 100 accounts. In true ABM, anything over 100 accounts, you're just segmenting regular b two B marketing. It's hard to scale creativity, uniqueness and directness, which is what? Over 100, unless you have a massive team. Right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:20]:
Yeah, that's really good because you could do one to many to those people outside of the hundred, and that just is marketing, like nurture and whatever. But sales leaders I've worked with in the past also kind of had some math roughly on, like, how many accounts a rep could have in a certain territory that they could, like, realistically work.

Chris Rack [00:42:36]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:36]:
And that's kind of where that math would come from.

Chris Rack [00:42:39]:
Yeah. And that's always evolving, too. That's changing so rapidly now. Just given the state of response rates and the fact that AI and automation is crushing email response rates and all, you know, like, so that that math is changing really, really rapidly.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:54]:
Christina said I had to hop for a minute, but did we get an answer on proving if ABM is working? If so, could someone share notes on the answer just cause she's here right now? How would you answer that, even though you've already answered? What's the one liner on how you'd answer that?

Chris Rack [00:43:04]:
Oh, I'm going back to that question. I don't remember what I said. I don't want to say.

Dave Gerhardt [00:43:08]:
We'll answer it again. Now, first, I just bumped into your bar and I said, Chris, how do you prove if ABM is working?

Chris Rack [00:43:13]:
So I think combining guaranteed easy to prove ROI tactics with risky brand type tactics, attribution is really, really difficult. The more solutions do you choose that have simple attribution models, CPL based lead gen, webinar promos, even events in some cases. It's easy for an executive to say this person went to the event and then we sold them. But it's not easy for an executive to see that this person saw 17 ads programmatically. So we're attributing one and a half percent of revenue to that. Right. So that has to be part of it. And that brand part of it is part of ABM.

Chris Rack [00:43:53]:
But it's just really hard for executives, especially in tough times, to see that. So try to combine your tactics with layup, attribution stuff where it's easy for an executive to see the ROI and kind of muddle in some of that brand stuff and some of that like risky stuff that's harder to attribute to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:09]:
What you talked about earlier. It's most likely going to be customers that are going to spend more anyway. You need to take a long term view. And so if you're like, we did ABM for six weeks and it's not working like that probably isn't right, it's like, all right, let's go back and go again. I think if you're just showing display ads to a cohort of people and you want to measure the lift in that, that's one thing. But it feels like you would want to take a longer term approach and say like, here's 100 accounts that we want to get into. Success would be like, do we have responses at those accounts? Have we booked meetings with those accounts? You would just basically lay out the steps of the funnel down and start to see some of the data. Maybe we havent booked a meeting yet, but I just had an interesting response back from someone at this account that weve never talked to before.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:48]:
Thats a good signal. Lets keep moving forward.

Chris Rack [00:44:51]:
ABM, again, its showcasing traction and a lot of thats also going to come with that partnership with sales, if you can have it, to start getting some of that data or having a great rev ops team that can pull that data from the CRM without the sellers help.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:04]:
Yeah. All right, we're going to wrap. Chris. Thank you. I'm going to give you the virtual round of applause for whoever people listen. This is a fantastic session. I completely agree with Brody. Super grateful for you hopping on talking about ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:15]:
This feels like a topic we could do another session on in two or three months. And I love your approach. It's not a, wasn't a vendor pitch, wasn't a use this solution. It was a fundamental, like, here's how I should think about ABM. I think a lot of people are going to leave here feeling smarter about taking a strategic approach to ABM. So go find Chris. Christopher, rack on LinkedIn. Go and listen to his podcast, be to boring.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:38]:
I'm going to be on there in a couple of weeks. I'm excited for that. Chris, great job today. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Belfast. Go get yourself some pub food. Okay?

Chris Rack [00:45:47]:
It was really great. And my apologies for those. I had my screen share up, so I'm now realizing that I was insanely close to the camera. So my apologies for that view of my face.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:57]:
If you're good. Nothing but love look, I do a lot of these. Nothing but love in the chat. This is a fantastic session. Thank you for delivering, Chris. I'll see you later. Thank you, everybody, for listening to this. Exit five live session on ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:08]:
This recording will send it out to everybody that was here, all the people that registered, and we'll be inside of the exit five community for anybody who wants to check it out. Other than that, go and send Chris a message on LinkedIn. That's what makes me happy when he sees those. So we'll see you later, Chris. I'll see you, man. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Chris Rack [00:46:22]:
Good job. Exit. Exit.
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