Account-Based Engagement and How to Accelerate Revenue


While many GTM teams are faced with accounts going dark and becoming unresponsive to sales/marketing communications once they're in the pipeline, Kristina Jaramillo (President of Personal ABM) ensures that high-value accounts actually move to revenue. Her personal ABM and account-based enablement programs reversed "no" positions with UPS, have displaced legacy competitors like Oracle. With Personal ABM, Kristina has reduced sales cycle times by 1/3 and increased deal sizes by 2-3X.


“78% of challenger sellers feel their toughest customer objections are the status quo objections...these are customer resistances to changing their current approach to solving a problem”

Key Points

  • Focus GTM strategies that drive, engage and close demand
  • ABM campaigns are not about building awareness
  • How driving awareness and pipeline growth didn’t solve for pipeline progression
  • The need for alignment, integration, orchestration
  • Have a strategy for engaging higher tiered accounts


I have a busy week this week. Besides presenting and the chat funnels demand gen summit, I have conversations with potential partners and vendors that can help us scale our personal ABM and account based enablement programs. I'm also speaking the SVP of Sales and Marketing at a SaaS B2B startup that focuses on applying conversational AI to the supply chain industry to remove the gaps between planning and execution that lead to stock outs.

Higher inventory costs, and reduce on time in full performance or service performance to customers. And while the company does have some competitors in the space, its main competitor is the status quo, as 80% of the business decisions are made without insights. The supply chain industry is used to dealing with distributed teams, disconnected systems and manual reporting. As the industry as a whole resists change, even though supply chains around the world faced unprecedented disruptions in the past few years.

78% of challenger sellers feel their toughest customer objections. Are the status quo objections. Status quo objections equal customer resistance to changing their current approach to solving a problem to accelerate growth. After the company's recent $4 million funding round. This SBP will need to strengthen the go to market strategy, improve the customer journey and implement new processes. This team will need to capture demand for their one of a kind solution that received a patent last year, and they will need to have a process in place to accelerate in-market accounts to revenue.

You'll need a process that enables the go to market teams to create demand and a buying vision with those accounts that are stuck in the status quo and will need a process that increases deal sizes, provides margin growth, and creates more profitable revenue growth with existing accounts. You see, ABM is not about sourcing the pipeline. It's about getting key accounts that can provide your company with the greatest revenue growth for today and tomorrow.

I've seen too many teams mainly use ABM to source the pipeline, but their challenge to drive state progression and win with higher deal values. For example, a call center conversational AI firm that has deal sizes in the 500 K mark or 500 K range came to personal ABM because they are building a pipeline of accounts using demand basem, but they were challenged with those accounts going dark. And while I review their content, we were able to see why they are not driving state progression. They focused their content on the buying journey, so they were focused on awareness, consideration, purchase versus what the go to market teams would need to have to do to win the account. Create demand captured demand progressed that demand and convert it or close the deals, retain demand and also expand that demand.

ABM is not about building awareness. We need to create demand by reframing accounts that can buy the greatest revenue growth. We need to capture that demand and build a consensus. We need to accelerate the demand and drive urgency so we can move accounts to revenue. And of course, we need to then close the deal. At best, the company's awareness content was thought curation, and at its worst it was thought regurgitation.

There was no clear point of view. There was no teaching for differentiation, no driving change or the status quo. And it didn't align with the go to market teams target accounts. One of their tier one banks, they were targeting banks. This particular organization had an initial engagement and with a huge I.T. team that developed, integrated and is now expanding the capabilities of AI or their virtual assistant program, which is named Erica.

They received hundreds of patents this year that focus on AI. So obviously that's a big focus for them. Awareness, content and general generic consideration content is not going to move this account forward. Our clients in it to show the gaps in the bank's current system and how it's creating challenges in the use cases that our client is focusing on, which is collections, complaint management and compliance.

They needed to show the bank that they understand the bank's strategic vision, their product roadmap for their AI or Erica, the desires of the bank's eight different lines of business. The impact that our client can have and why the bank should outsource versus spend time and resources on having their internal team implement these changes that our client would make when it comes to status quo accounts, we need to drive greater personal relevance, teach for differentiation through stories, versus just making the same baseless claims and make an emotional connection, reframe thoughts and ideas and show a new way.

Unfortunately, most content does not do this, and it's why most content does not support ABA nor the selling conversation that GTM teams need to have with specific accounts. And it's one of the reasons why accounts go dark after initial engagement.

I mentioned in the previous chat funnel summit presentation that Cassandra Jowett, whose Path Factory Senior Director of marketing, likes to compare the buyer's journey to a game that kids play. It's called The Floor is Lava. They have a series on Netflix as well. Check it out. You have all these jumping points to get buyers to the safe harbor and you want to make sure that they don't fall into the lava halfway through their journey.

You want buyers to jump from one war rock to the next one and so on. And you want to lay out the path to revenue in a very clear way for them. The problem is that most GTM teams do not lay out the path because they focused on sourcing that pipeline, which is what demand generation should do, not ABM.

Instead of accelerating higher deal values to revenue faster and actually create higher deal sizes. They're not focused on the interactions that need to happen and the experiences that should be delivered once accounts are in the pipeline. For example, a UK ITSM firm was failing to create a path to revenue leadership at this UTI UK excuse me. Its analytics firm had the vision of creating a new category.

In their case, it was capacity planning as a service or C pass, and they wanted to become an international player like VMware. But as for FI one research indicated in their report, the ITSM firm would have to break out of its finance niche category. They needed to create demand for a new product in a new category into new markets.

So they brought in a PR firm to drive greater awareness for this new category. They invested in intense data platforms like Sixth Sense and Demand based for their ABM Tech. The firm was able to drive awareness and pipeline growth, but there was limited stage progression and revenue improvements. The ITSM firm tried to retrofit their lead process, their lead technology, and most importantly, their lead reporting in and around what already existed for their new ABM reporting and approach.

They did not build the foundation that is needed to see stronger revenue growth, for maybe there was still a hand-off between GTM and customer facing teams versus that handshake where there's alignment, integration and orchestration. As Sangram Bari, who was co-founder of Terminus, likes to say, modern B2B leaders talk about engagement in the target accounts, their go to market strategy and the ways to win the deals.

As one team. They missed the fact that ABM should change sell processes and motions. If sales is not fully prepared to go all in with enablement and sales orchestration in a digital world, then you're missing the mark. They did not have the right content to support ABM sales and the sell in conversations that teams needed to have with their future customers.

The PR firm drove awareness for the category, which is was tech focused and not business issue focused. So it did not help drive change and like 86% of content and messaging that sales and messaging marketing teams push out the content had no commercial impact on the buyer. While the ITSM firm defined their ICP, they did not segment their tier their ICP into tiers or different layers of accounts.

So they treated all opportunities the same. They gave everyone the same attention, the same focus, the same approach. No matter if that prospect was a tier one or a larger account or a Tier three. There was no strategy for how the go to market teams would use and Zeta and open engage and closing market accounts that sixth sense and other intent data platforms would identify for them.

They had a list of activities and cadences. There was no coordination between sales and marketing. The sites firm did not have the right content and messaging to move accounts, forward sales and go to market teams. Soon discovered that about four out of five targeted companies outside of the financial industry lack senior executive understanding of the business issue that this particular ITSM firm was trying to solve with their on demand cloud based capacity planning subscription service.

Senior executives did not see how their AI teams, how the business, how their operations panel and even customers were impacted by their infrastructure, visited the visibility gaps or the manual IQ processes, or with home grown technologies and inadequate tools like VMware, they were only looking at current infrastructure performance issues versus where infrastructure challenges were lie in the months ahead.

More importantly, they did not see the business issues or how those business issues related to them because content and messaging focused on and general industry assumptions and pain points. They're one too many at once. A few campaigns missed the personal relevance needed to win over teams the C-suite and the CFO that did not see a reason to change.

More personal relevance is needed to move accounts forward. As Matt Dixon, Matthew Dixon and Brant Adamson mentioned in their book The Challenge or Sale. In most cases, buyer unresponsiveness is not because you fail to make a logical argument, it's because you fail to make an emotional connection. It's not that the buyers didn't believe your story. It's because they didn't see it as their story.

The sales and marketing team did not align their content and messaging with the specific retailer, airline and online service accounts that they wanted to win. As Doug Landis mentioned in a recent Forbes article, when selling to larger companies, you must come to every social email and live conversation with a point of view about their business. You have to know what they're focused on and on as those strategic initiatives of a business will trickle down to every department across the organization.

They needed more than persona based content and messaging. The airliner's retailers and online service firms needed to see their specific gaps and how they would impact their strategic initiatives. Success. I.T. buyers need to see that you understand their business landscape, their company, their needs, and what they will need for each stage of their buying process. Top to bottom, left to right engagement was needed to move accounts to revenue, in many cases go to market.

Teams were single threaded with the I.T. managers that were responsible for capacity management. They were not penetrating accounts and building relationships with those VP's or CTOs or CIOs across multiple channels, including LinkedIn. They were not extending beyond I.T. managers to drive engagement with business strategy, customer success, or even finance teams. These teams couldn't have provided the insights the GTLM teams needed to make a stronger case for capacity management and show how it was misaligned with business objectives.

The GTM teams were not able to influence the internal conversations that Salesforce not privy to and have teams discuss how last minute reactions to threshold crossings impacted it. Finance IT. Security. I.T. operations. E-commerce revenue and customers. The content did not support the selling conversations. Besides the right content, they were missing the required account based engagement that's needed to move accounts forward.

Account based account based engagement is how you can make your future customers feel with each interaction and each touchpoint along the journey and their lifecycle. It's about how you create a team to team connection and multi thread to ensure deals. Deals are closed, there's adoption, retention and even expansion. It's about building meaningful, intentional relationships and making a connection with the human buyers at the accounts that you want to win and grow.

I talked about this, that last year's account based engagement summit. You can see the presentation and other chat funnel presentations at Personal Just go to the resources tab and click on past ABM Event Recordings for stage progression to happen. The ITSM firm needed greater customer alignment as Richie Pender, who's global head of ABM and Content Strategy at HP, HP excuse me mentioned on LinkedIn.

ABM demands absolute customer obsession. Demand gen and strategies are pursuit led, whereas ABM is customer led. This means value prop should be designed by customer needs, not what's available in solution stable to sell. Value prop should be custom designed so they need unique opportunity in each account. This ITSM firm needed to look at profiles meaning LinkedIn profiles, content and messaging and all and all communication channels to ensure that go to market.

Teams were relevant to each touchpoint and with each interaction. They needed to go beyond pushing content, pushing out content based on intent data and what potential customers engage with which they saw on their demand based campaigns. They needed to uncover that why there was intention or engagement in the first place so they can align with a target strategic account vision and put a plan in place to get the C-suite.

Since the VP's and above are not the ones showing intention with enterprise within enterprise accounts, they needed to use intent, data and engagement as a springboard versus something to react to. They also needed to uncover what's behind the prospect's intent, and specifically what's their million dollar headache on both in account and person level. They also needed to uncover what's going on within the organization and the different divisions that can impact operational excellence, customers and even the piano, and they also need to uncover what their account specific or competitor specific focus gaps that were not being considered and the personal impacts which meet may be being underestimated. It's this information that helped the sales and marketing team speak to the human buyers within the target accounts and create a personal buying journey that helped target accounts move forward through the different stages.

Above all, the ITSM firm needed to change its mindset to drive growth. They needed to slow down, to speed up and get the strategy right. This means we need to focus them on increasing their relevance across all channels, including LinkedIn profiles, content messaging that needed to speak to specific decision makers the teams want to connect with. We needed to focus them on changing their sales and marketing motions across the buying journey, and it doesn't matter how many accounts you initially engage with if they do not progress towards revenue. We need to have the right sales and marketing conversations and we need to take the right calculated steps together. We also needed to focus on taking a more personal account based approach where they align with their future customers, their business and their needs, and improve interactions before going for scale, b ecause the ITSM firm changed its focus to improve interactions along the buying journey and accelerate accounts to revenue, this items for ITSM go to market. Teams were able to gain new customer logos like GoDaddy, JCPenney, British Airways and others. They were able to create partnerships with companies like ServiceNow, IBM, Dxc, Technology, VMware, which recognize its own gaps and many others. they became an international play player that positioned themselves for acquisition. Now this ITC firm is now part of a larger firm or larger firm that has 800 clients worldwide relying on their I.T. estate monitoring, capacity planning, analytics and load testing platforms. This new, larger firm has offices through North America, UK, Europe, Nordic venue, Blue and Asia-Pacific. Reasons. Regions.

As I discussed in past chat, follows presentations and in my Abingdon Right podcast and in the conversations I started on LinkedIn Abm's should not be about building the pipeline. It should be about fixing the business issues that are keeping Tier one accounts from getting to revenue and existing accounts to greater revenue. So you can fix the issues, drive stage progression and greater revenue growth.

I encourage you to connect with me. I'm Cristina Jaramillo, president of Personal ABM, and you can see the spelling of my name below. Just so they can get it right. Because. Christine okay. I also encourage you to check out personal ABM and see our past chat funnel presentations. Are ABM Done Right podcast and schedule a free ABM Strategy Session.