Successful ABM deployment requires executive sponsorship


Don’t “do a Sisyphus”

For your ABM program to have a chance of success, you need to ensure you have all the right stakeholders on board and to have secured executive sponsorship. Just knowing in your heart that ABM would be the right thing to do isn’t going to cut it. I repeat: Successful ABM deployment requires executive sponsorship. Without it, you’ll end up feeling like Sisyphus and run out of steam, and worse, credibility, before you’ve had a chance to make an impact. In my previous post, I explained that implementing ABM is a strategic decision. It involves organizational transformation, as you’re changing the way sales and marketing collaborate, and the way opportunities and relationships with select accounts are pursued. That takes support right from the top of the organization.

Investing time and effort into stakeholder analysis makes for a smoother ride

There’s a bit of ground work, you may want to invest in first. Taking the time at the beginning of your program to really understand your stakeholders, their concerns, potential objections or challenges can make all the difference, when it’s time to pitch your proposal. Not only does it help you prepare for all eventualities, it arms you with something that’s very hard to beat: You’re demonstrating that you care enough about your stakeholders and their needs, potential concerns and objections that you’ve made the effort to examine your project from their point of view. That in itself can be extremely disarming and must not be underestimated. Besides, it’s simply good manners!

Follow these steps to understand your point of departure

The late Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has been a constant companion of mine, and in the context of today’s blog post this quote particularly resonates with me:

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

With this thought in mind:

  • Make sure you fully understand your corporate strategy and vision
  • Socialize your ideas with key stakeholders (sales, sales enablement, marketing, sales operations, others in your organization that touch or support the sales and marketing process) to gauge interest,
  • get feedback – and really listen to it, with empathy for their point of view
  • identify objections and analyze them – what motives, underlying feelings and thoughts do they have?
  • then fine-tune your pitch

Once you’re confident you have a solid foundation it’s time to identify and approach your executive sponsor. Typically, this will be the CMO, but it could also well be your head of sales – ideally both!  ABM only functions, when sales and marketing truly collaborate – so get them to talk to each other and get their buy-in right from the outset. Your approach for this will depend on your role in the organization as well as the corporate culture of your work place. If you’re serious about ABM and haven’t already done so, this is a good time to brush up on your change leadership skills.

Once you have your executive sponsor behind you, it’s time to formalize approach, metrics and roll-out plan that covers both, program milestones, and as the wider underlying communications plan.

Your earlier detailed stakeholder analysis lets you prepare how, when and by which means you want to communicate with each audience for maximum impact.

Your goal needs to be to gain buy-in by compellingly communicating your vision and the value ABM brings to your business; mobilizing others to help you work toward that goal and at the same time develop and deploy a structured roll-out plan.