“Wait, I’m sorry … who Are you?”
Who? Dym.io – A 500 million dollar financial services SaaS software company – B2B
What? Precision ABM (Target account list in the 100’s)
*These anecdotes are inspired by true events but any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental, or whatever they say in the movies.
At Inverta, we begin many of our account-based marketing projects with a discussion around Organizational Alignment. “Organizational alignment” is a readiness metric – it’s just a fancy way of asking whether or not everybody who needs to be involved with what we’re doing is actually on the same page with what we’re doing. While the discussion is pragmatic – it can be very eye opening and help us quickly assess the dynamics of a company and its culture.
A client of ours had just kicked-off an ABM lite project and we were about to have the first remote teleconference around organizational alignment. ABM Lite is an account-based marketing approach that involves grouping like accounts into clusters by vertical or other attributes that will allow for relevance at scale.
Our project champion was Kelly R., Vice President of Marketing with 9 months under her belt at Dym.io – having accepted the job after being the Director of Demand Generation at Yaksoft for 2 and a half years. Kelly R. had the enthusiastic nature and affable attitude of a creative, yet down-to-earth marketing leader. She shot for the moon – and was clearly beloved by her team – two of which had joined her on the call today.
Also joining us on the call was the Senior Vice President of North American sales – Don T. During the initial kick-off and project planning, I’d only interacted with Kelly R. so this would be my first glimpse into the larger Dym.io culture. When Don T. joined the call, he announced his name and politely engaged my small talk – informing me that his weekend was great because the Dallas Cowboys got a win. I’m a Patriots fan and he was a Tom Brady sympathizer, so the exchange was safe and cordial.
When we had full attendance on the call, I suggested we do a round of introductions which is customary if the group is small enough and there are new people to the project on the call. I went first, followed by Don, then Kelly’s two marketing managers – then Kelly R. When introductions were complete, I thanked Kelly and turned to my .ppt where I’d prepared some discovery questions. This is when Don T. cleared his throat and began,
Don T: “Guys, I’m sorry – what’s the purpose of this call again?”
Me: “We’re here to talk through some of the fundamentals of the ABM Lite approach and make sure we’re on the same page about some of the key initial decisions – target account selection, how we’re going to cluster the accounts, and some of the marketing/sales responsibilities as far as the initial plays go.”
Kelly R: “Don, we’re thinking of doing a more account-based marketing strategy in the upcoming year, and so Inverta is here to help us with some research, messaging, and plays.”
Don T: “Wait, I’m sorry … who are you?”
Me: “My name is Ashley and I work for Inv …”
Don T: “No, not you. Kelly is it?”
It was in this moment that I understood that at Dym.io – the Senior Vice President of North American sales didn’t know who the Vice President of Marketing was. Make no mistake – the ABM Lite approach was still right for Dym.io – but it became clear that some additional, extensive ground work would need to be laid before we could move forward with discussing target account selection.
Biggest Successes – Uncovering this lack of alignment during the discovery phase of the project is the best time to do it (if it isn’t revealed during the sales cycle)– and honestly, I consider it a win. What we were missing was consensus around the best way to go to market for Dym.io and some good, healthy, regular communication between the marketing and sales leadership. But we had collaborative, positive attitudes on both sides – and that’s 85% of the puzzle.
Biggest Red Flags – Transforming from lead-centric to account-based marketing requires charismatic leadership. After learning that Kelly R. hadn’t introduced her plan (or herself!) to the sales leadership prior to the call made me feel like we’d have some serious, additional consensus building to do if this project was going to be a success.
Biggest Takeaways – Change requires leadership and leaders listen. In this scenario, it’s hard to believe that the sales function had any input in any of the initial planning done by Kelly and her team up until this point. The next time you are doing planning and some of your programs require the cooperation of multiple functions – be sure they are involved in your brainstorming from the beginning.
Coming Up Next … After we organize some knowledge transfer between Kelly and Don, and some account-based marketing education for both teams – we’ll start talking about target account selection and how the Dym.io team should go about prioritizing the accounts they want to pursue.