Ep. 57 – Interview w/ Declan Mulkeen

How B2B Companies Can Leverage ABM Strategically to Generate Better Results

Account-based marketing (ABM) is not just good B2B marketing – it transcends one function or department. On this week’s episode, we talk to ABM champion Declan Mulkeen (CMOstrategicabm) about how ABM can help to unify marketing, sales, and other functions within the organization to do the impossible to enable sales to win accounts, and why you should use a “strategy first” instead of a “technology first” approach. He also explains why he believes ABM can’t be done for any type of account, and how you should get close to sales as well as start small when you’re rolling out initiatives. 

Play Video about EP57-Declan Mulkeen

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Key criteria to determine if ABM is suitable for your business [5:09]
  • How ABM brings sales and marketing together to achieve the common objective of revenue generation [9:01]
  • Declan on having a strategy-first approach as opposed to a technology-first approach for ABM [19:32]
  • How to repurpose the content that’s needed for ABM [24:01]
  • How ABM is different from demand gen, and how both of them should coexist within organizations [30:50]
Companies & links mentioned in this episode:



Christian Klepp, Declan Mulkeen

Christian Klepp  00:00

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss their thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp.

Christian Klepp  00:27

All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today, I am excited to welcome a guest into the show who has an ABM champion for B2B brands, and he is on a mission to help them overcome their growth and engagement challenges with ABM or account based marketing. So coming to us live from Madrid, Spain, Mr. Declan Mulkeen. Welcome to the show, sir.

Declan Mulkeen  00:55

Thank you, Christian, thank you for inviting me.

Christian Klepp  00:58

It’s, it’s great to be connected Declan and you know, I really enjoyed our previous conversation, and I’m really looking forward to this one. So why don’t we just dive in?

Declan Mulkeen  01:07

Okay. Sounds good.

Christian Klepp  01:08

All right. So Declan, you’re currently the CMO at a company called Strategic ABM. And there you obviously provide ABM solutions for B2B tech companies. But what I really want to talk about is, you posted something on LinkedIn, I’d say about two weeks ago that got some incredible engagement. And that clearly had something to do with the topic of the pulse, which is around why ABM is not just good B2B marketing. So could you please elaborate on that a bit further?

Declan Mulkeen  01:33

Sure. Christian, yeah, it was a post that kind of had been going around in the back of my mind for a long time based on what I know, the conversations I’ve been having with other people, the kind of conversation I’ve been seeing on platforms such as LinkedIn, etc. So I thought, I put pen to paper and then create a carousel on LinkedIn and expand on that a little bit more in the text to kind of say why I believe that ABM is not just good B2B marketing, which some people, you know, out there are, are perhaps, you know, hinting, or kind of talking about it as being just as another tactic really. And so I think the main point I was trying to make in that post, that seemed to kind of grab the attention of the audience was that ABM it’s a very different thing to B2B marketing. It’s, first of all, it’s much more than marketing. And that’s probably one of the things that I always tell when we’re talking to clients or prospects or the or just the wider market, really that ABM is it’s much more of an organizational strategy as opposed to a sales or marketing strategy. So I think that’s the first thing that makes it different. Very often the C-suite, I have the CEO, CEO, the CEO, etc, etc. are involved in the conversation because it’s about how do you, you know, move a company forward? How do you make that kind of leap forward in terms of growth, whether you’re looking to win, you’re looking to grow, or you’re looking to retain your most important accounts. So that’s really why the C suite to get involved. And I think it’s also ABM. It’s a bit of a misnomer, really, in terms of how the name account based marketing and I think probably that’s what causes a lot of confusion, really, because when Beth Burgess, who invented the term back in 2003, I think it was. She was having dinner with some guys from Accenture, Unisys, I think, and they were talking about client centric marketing. And off the back of that conversation, she kind of designed a new approach, ABM and gave it the name account based marketing, but really, it’s much more of an account based strategy, which encompasses sales, it encompasses customer success, it encompasses account management, it encompasses operation, it encompasses the why the company because ultimately it’s I always like to call ABM the great unifier. And by that I mean it’s the one thing that everyone can unify and come around in terms of accounts, because you know, marketing hasn’t done itself a lot of favors in recent years inventing, you know, different acronyms such as, you know, MQL and SQL and all these kinds of acronyms that really haven’t… and I’m as guilty as anyone else really of celebrating these great things and saying, hey, look sales we’ve just sent you 10 MQLs isn’t that amazing. And sales are like what I don’t want them, they’re not of any interest to me, because sales know which accounts need to win, sales know how to win those accounts. And and I think that’s why bringing together ABM and sales is another reason why ABM is different to general B2B marketing, but there are many, many reasons and I recommend people to look at the post, which we can highlight a bit more about that after the show.

Christian Klepp  04:49

Yeah, thanks for elaborating on that. That was a really great answer. Um, you spoke about it a couple of minutes ago because you gave us a very, you know, substantial explanation of what ABM is, but could you elaborate a bit more on what it isn’t, just just dispel this myth that are these misconceptions that people have?

Declan Mulkeen  05:09

Well, I think ABM is… a question that I’m often asked is, you know, who’s ABM suitable for and who is ABM not suitable for. And you know that there are different definitions out there. But we as an ABM agency, you know, the position that we take with our B2B tech audience is that ABM is suitable. First of all, there’s three or four really key criteria. The first one obviously, is you really need to be selling into mid-market enterprise accounts, as opposed to selling into smaller companies or selling into small SaaS startups. That’s number one. Number two is typically the kind of product or solution or service that you’re selling. It’s a complex solution. It’s a complex solution, but tends to have a longer life cycle. It’s not a transaction solution, it’s not that I can jump on your website, find the buy button, click 2, and buy 2, you know, this is not an Amazon purchase. It’s a complex solution. And by definition, a complex solution will have a longer life cycle. And also, by definition, a complex solution will have multiple people involved. And unfortunately, you know, the world has changed in many ways over the course of the last few years. But one way that it has changed, particularly, is in that many, many, many more people are involved in a buying decision. And that’s for many reasons, I think back to kind of pre financial crisis 2007 to 2008 when people were making decisions and spending money, relatively freely, relatively easily, but now there was a huge amount of risk aversion in companies, there was a huge amount of consensus building in companies. But also the fact is that there’s an awful lot of technology. So therefore, any decision that gets taken these days, it has to be reviewed in the sense of how is that going to impact our our technology platform? How is that going to impact our customer service platform, how’s it going to impact our CRM, or HubSpot or Salesforce or Marketo, whatever. So I think there’s that, you know, there’s numbers talked about 6.8 people, 7 people, 8 people, the long the short of it is, it’s not one person. And so if it’s not one person, you’ve got to put a strategy in place, a go to market strategy that can reach all of those people, engage with those people, talk to those people in a different way. Because a CFO will respond in a very, very different way to a CMO, and a COO or a CTO or CIO or CSO, these guys are going to have different buttons to press, they’re going to be impacted, influenced by different messaging, different value propositions, different arguments. So it’s not a one size fits all. And that’s probably you know, when we say why ABM is a right fit, or a bad fit, or not a good fit rather, tends to be around those areas, complex sales, longer life cycle, you’re selling big mark mark, mid market enterprise, your average order value, or your average annual contract value is at least $50,000. Otherwise, the investment in time and money just doesn’t warrant it. So if you’ve got a lower value order, solution, other tactics be they inbound, be they demand gen, etc, are probably more suitable.

Christian Klepp  08:27

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And, you know, to your point about the multiple stakeholders involved in the buying decision process, I mean, like classic B2B right. And, you know, you brought up something that was really interesting just a couple of minutes ago, and, you know, it was on the topic of like, you know, something to do with the salespeople. So, in your opinion, I’m just gonna throw this one out there. In your opinion, how does a discipline like ABM helped to bring these two groups together marketing and sales to achieve those common objectives and the common objective being revenue generation?

Declan Mulkeen  09:01

Yeah, well, like I said, I mentioned earlier, Christian, I, you know, I think it’s the greatest unifier that exists at the moment really, I come from a sales background originally before I went into marketing. So, you know, I’ve got the T shirt, I’ve got the war wounds, I’ve got the battle scars. I’ve missed the last plane home. I’ve eaten badly in really bad hotels with bad linen. I mean, at best, probably being too kind to some of the hotels I’ve stayed in, and actually to say they have the linen. But I’ve had all those kind of, you know, terrible moments. And I think that’s reflected a lot in a lot of the conversations I have with my fellow, you know, there’s my sales team in the agency that I worked really closely, closely rather with, with the conversations I have when I’m talking to sales leaders within our clients and within our prospects, I’m always very eager to be part of the sales process of the agency because I think they want to hear my voice and they want to hear my stories, but they also want to hear the fact that I understand what it is like to kind of do the sales and win the business and equally to lose the business. So I think that that kind of ABM, the fact is that we’re all unified. We’re all, you know, part of the same focus, which is accounts. And that is, you know, whether you want to win accounts, whether you want to grow accounts, whether you want to retain accounts, whichever the focus is all three, or one of the three, that really speaks to a salesperson, because their day to day work, their bread and butter is in our accounts. And I think when a marketer can talk to a salesperson around, Hey, tell me which account you’re working on. Tell me which one, do you want to close this quarter? Let me go away, and I’ll come back to you. I’ll tell you what I can do to help you close those accounts. That is magic to a salespersons’ ears. And obviously, what’s not magic to a salesperson is is hey, here’s a few MQLs, or hey, here’s a few SQLs or, hey, we’ve just done a new piece of content, or we just written a new white paper. This is this is noise more than anything else. It has to be anything… it has to revolve around the accounts that the sales team are interested in.

Christian Klepp  11:06

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. I mean, like they have to see value in it. And then most important of all they have to see like, Okay, how is this gonna help me to close the account? Right, close the deal. Get this lead through the funnel, as they say, yeah. You brought up you brought that word, that dangerous word a couple of minutes ago about like MQLs. So the question is, why are leads and MQL things that you should not be focusing on when it comes to ABM?

Declan Mulkeen  11:33

Well, the clues in the name, so the clues in the name, which is account based marketing, so that if you’re measuring accounts, the measurement of accounts is not MQLs. MQLs is you know, if you think about the evolution of where MQLs have come from the whole kind of inbound marketing approach and content marketing, you know, fishing, fishing with nets, as opposed to fishing with spears, and all these other, you know, ways of trying to describe something but the, when you’re targeting accounts, you need to have a new set of metrics. And those metrics need to be business outcome metrics, business focused metrics. And an MQL. is not a business outcome metric. That’s just a metric to explain that marketing are busy beavering away doing stuff, and it makes it sound good. But a business metric is, you know, what impact am I having on the reputation for my of my organization within that account? What impact am I having on the relationships that we are creating or the relationships that we are nurturing within that account? What impact is my ABM strategy having on the revenue within the accounts that we are targeting? So the real focus should be around business outcome metrics. And obviously, if you google business outcome metrics, this is classic business school. Anything that anybody who’s looking to run a company, lead a company,  influence the C suite, talk to private investors, these are numbers and metrics that that that are universal. And I think going back to some of the other metrics, they are more… they kind of isolate marketing from the wider business as opposed to bring in marketing into the wider business. I think that’s why probably why I’m so passionate about ABM is the fact that I think it really brings marketing into the center of the organization, rather than being somewhat on the outside.

Christian Klepp  13:39

Well, it just pushes marketing further center stage, because it’s it becomes a strategic asset to helping drive or grow revenue. Right. So, okay. Declan this next one, I’ve basically like, taken a bunch of questions and put them all into this one bundle. Right. And this is probably… these are probably questions that you get, you know, or you’ve heard them at least on sales calls with potential prospects and so forth. So this is probably nothing new to you. You know, you get challenged by clients asking questions, and most especially because they’re probably either new or they’re just not familiar with ABM. Right. So talk to us about how you would address the following. So I’ll start with the first one. Okay. Yeah, Declan ABM is great, but we’ve got a really long sales cycle. So how can we show progress or success along the way?

Declan Mulkeen  14:31

Yeah, well, so you have a long sales cycle, then obviously, ABM is a perfect fit for them, which would probably be my first answer. I think my second answer would be understood. I mean, we always talk about ABM being a marathon and not a sprint. And I think if you’re going to be preparing for a marathon, then you need to accept that there will be stages that you want to measure along the way. You know, whether it’s the you know, the 10k, 10k point to 20k points, etc. So, as any runner knows you, you train up to be able to do a marathon by running the 5k or 10k, then you get to a 20k. And then you also get to the full route. So the one thing that we say to our clients when we bring them on board is first of all, we’re very open and honest with them, I think, which I think is the most important thing. There’s no point in trying to deceive people. There’s no point in trying to say to people, look, you’re so used to dealing with MQLs, that you turn on a campaign and suddenly you’ve got 10 MQLs coming in your door every day, ABM is not like that, because ultimately, you’re telling us where we’re working together. And we’re agreeing on a set of accounts for you to target. And those accounts need me to move those accounts through this ABM journey. So having said that, there are a number of…  there’s two parts of this question… for this answer really, first of all, going back to the kind of three R’s to kind of reputation, relationships and revenue, there are a number of what we call lead indicators within those business outcome metrics that you can measure in order to see that you are moving the dial in order to see that the revenue which is the ultimate goal of ABM, that will come down the road in this ABM, in this ABM journey. So whether it’s building relationships, whether it’s actually getting people getting target account decision makers and buying committees, to consume your content, whether it’s getting decision makers and buying committee members, to join your webinars or to join your executive workshops, whether it’s getting decision makers and buying committee members to advocate internally about you, which is one of the key things around ABM, whether it’s actually an end to seeing sales pipeline coming through which then ultimately, depending on the sales cycle, which you mentioned earlier, Christian, that sales cycle, if the pipeline is there, then often you know, whether it’s a 3 months or 6 months, or 9 months or 12 months, an 18 month pipeline, then, you know, those lead indicators from a business outcome metrics point of view will indicate that revenue will arrive. That’s the first part of the answer. The second part of the answer is what we tend to do with clients is we tend to put in place what we kind of called kind of tactical ABM. And what that means is that we’re already kind of doing the kind of background work the foundational work. We’re working on your ICP, we’re working on the account selection, we’re looking at your… insights around your organization, your industry, your sector, your competition, etc. We’re building all this data, we then kind of looking at a new value proposition for you, which is relevant to your target accounts. So while we’re doing all that work, which tends to take about eight weeks or so, we’re already building campaigns for you, which we call tactical ABM. And by that we, we start spinning up some thought leadership, we start getting some of the key voices within your company to be heard, we start putting the content which you probably already have in terms of different content, but we spin it up in different ways. And we repurpose it to make sure that the audience that you want to see that content get to see that content very quickly. And that’s already starting to build brand to enhance your brand reputation, to reposition you if you’re looking for a repositioning as part of your ABM strategy. So that’s already starting to move things a lot while we’re doing the heavy lifting with you in the background. So in answer to your question, Christian is two parts. The first part I mentioned in terms of these early indicators. And the second part, obviously, is just kind of tactical ABM. So it’s kind of a two pronged approach really, in parallel. And then obviously, the tactical ABM will continue when as the more strategic ABM takes off, and starts to deliver sales pipeline, and revenue.

Christian Klepp  18:39

Okay, no, no, fantastic. So, clearly, many ways to measure progress as you as you advance further in the cycle, right?

Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.

Yeah, here comes the next one, you’re gonna have a field day with this one. We may have to invest in ABM technology to implement these activities that you’re proposing. So where do we start?

Declan Mulkeen  19:29

With ABM technology?

Christian Klepp  19:31


Declan Mulkeen  19:32

Well, I could be quite well, I could be quite controversial. I would actually say you shouldn’t start with technology. I think the I mean, it’s interesting. I run a podcast called let’s talk ABM and I remember last summer, I interviewed Sangram Vajre, who’s obviously the one of the co-founders at Terminus, and he’s a really great guy. And, and one of the kind of quotes I remember from that interview I did was that he said, you don’t need technology to do ABM. And that’s kind of really stuck with me since then, over the course of last 12, 14 months. And he said, look, you know, I own and run a technology business, but I’m the first person to say that you don’t need technology. And I think that’s also been our approach very often with clients when they come to us and say, hey, look, we’re looking to buy this technology or the other technology and we’ve been told we need it and we can’t do ABM without it, etc. So our answer always is, it’s you have to have a strategy first approach, as opposed to a technology first approach, if you can get your strategy, right, you can do some very, very good ABM without any technology. Because ultimately, if you think about it, ABM in its, at its core, in its essence, is doing the impossible to help your sales team to win accounts. Now, if you think what that… if you park on a boil that down and you kind of sit with your VP of sales and say, hey, which accounts do you want to go after? Or which account rather are you going after, and when do you need to close them by? Let me go away and think about how we can help you. So you may then end up deciding to run, you know, an executive workshop. Now you might need to do…  it might be physical, or it may be virtual, you may need some technology to facilitate that. But you may not, you just need  may need some great people to come up with some great ideas and some great content around that and you run a workshop. And that helps to move down on that account. Or you may need to, you’ve got some great content already created. And you need to personalize it for the account for the industry for the pains and challenges that that account is facing at the moment. So that’s just a good marketing job of taking that content and making it relevant and contextualized for the account you’re looking to in. So there’s an awful lot of things that you can do, which are, as I said, a strategy first rather than technology. You know, that obviously Scott Brinker who, who kind of creates that amazing infographic, which I’m not sure how he’s going to keep doing it, because there’s already 5000 logos on it. But he keeps on publishing it. And it’s an amazing piece of work. The martech has exploded to such a point that sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. And I think we always say to people pare back, start small if you’ve got you know, CRM, if you’ve got HubSpot, if you’ve got Marketo or whatever you got, you can do an awful lot within that. And then if you’ve got, you know, if you’ve got something like Vidyard, for creating video, we use a platform called Turtle for creating great content experiences. You only need two or three things I if I think about my own ABM programs that I run, we have very little technology, because the main thing for us is really creating very special account experiences that allow the account to go through which can be you know, a landing page that we’ve built in HubSpot, it can be a website experience, it can be a direct mail assets that we’ve created, and we work with our partners on creating an amazing direct mail piece that they experience. So I think that’s my answer in summary is think strategy first, and then the technology will almost take care of itself because the strategy will indicate what technology you need.

Christian Klepp  23:13

Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. I mean, with a strategy first approach, you know, I interviewed a gentleman a couple of weeks ago, and his name is Dan McGaw. His business is… he’s in the business, excuse me, of fixing the MarTech stacks of companies. And one of the things that he says is that a lot of companies to your point, they get tempted to just keep adding stuff to the pile, right. And at the end of the day, when they start doing an audit, some of them run up a really high bill on on, on, you know, monthly fees on software that they very rarely use. Right, or just don’t use it effectively. Right,”

Declan Mulkeen  23:49

Correct yah.

Christian Klepp  23:49

Yeah. All right. And here’s the last one of the bundle. All well and good Declan, but how do we create all of this content that we need? This really sounds like a ton of work.

Declan Mulkeen  24:01

Well, I mean, it can be but I think what we find when we do these audits of customers, when they when they join us, and they come on board, very often, even the marketing teams, or at least a team that are talking to us about ABM, they might not even be aware of the sheer volume of content that is already being created by their organization. And the not only the volume, but also the creativity that can be done. And you know, I was looking at one client of ours to the day and, you know, they had a podcast series that a lot of people in the organization didn’t even know about. So this happens because a lot of these kind of large organizations, sophisticated organizations, you know, they’ve got a lot of people doing a lot of great stuff, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is always joined up. And I’m not I’m not saying it necessarily has to be all joined up because obviously, you know, different teams do different things for different reasons. But what I think is missing very often is how do you bring that kind of content together in one place? And I think, you know, a lot of our clients kind of create and we help them to create ABM centers of excellence. And these ABM Centers of excellence are very, very much a repository for where great thinking, great ideas, great content can kind of come into and share and be shared. And then people can pick it up and say, oh, I didn’t know we had that that podcast or didn’t know that we interviewed so and so I didn’t know that we created an amazing white paper. etc, etc. So I think my first piece of advice is go and find out what you’ve got internally, have a good dig around, google the name of your company and the word podcast, google the name of your company in the word white paper, google the name of your company, and SlideShare. You know, just go and find and you’ll be quite surprised. Because then what we find is that we very often say to our clients, look, we’re not asking you to kind of recreate the wheel, or reinvent the wheel. Whereas we can actually take a lot of your content. And we can think about very clever ways of repurposing it. But the key thing for us is actually, because we’ve gone through all the work of the ICP, the account selection, we’ve created a unique value proposition which talks to your customers and your potential customers, we can then look at your content and say, Well, how do we change that content? How do we use that content to reflect that message that value proposition so that it actually impacts and resonates with your audience? So I think that’s the first… in the event that there isn’t an awful lot of content, you’ve got different avenues and avenues. Often you’ve got teams internally, there are some great external people that you can use. There’s lots of great third party websites that can create content for you. There’s great journalist I use that create great content. And then there’s, you know, we create content for our clients as well. We create stuff, when as and when required. So I think there’s a there’s a lot of answers to that challenge really.

Christian Klepp  26:53

Yeah, exactly. It almost seems a little bit like a menu. There’s something in there for everybody. Right. Like several options, several solutions to the problem. Fantastic. What do you think is one of the biggest challenges that is facing ABM right now?

Declan Mulkeen  27:12

Um, one of the biggest challenges…. will go probably going back to your point around technology, I think that’s a major challenge, because a lot of companies have been are being led by technology first, rather than strategy first. So they tried to untie that we very often have to try to untie that when we’re talking to the market. Because, you know, there’s also a separation very often in companies between who is delivering the strategy, and who is purchasing the technology. And so sometimes that that, that that kind of conflict in a way is, hey, we’ve been handed this technology, we now need to use it, or hey, we’ve got this, this intent data platform, we’ve got this automation platform we’ve got we’ve got this CRM or whatever. How do we tie all these things together. And as you said, then create the content, create the value proposition, create the account experience, engage the accounts measure the impact. There’s an awful lot of moving parts, you know, we always talk about ABM, very much being a journey. But we also talk about ABM, very much being around orchestration. There are a lot of moving parts. It’s almost like a film, in the sense that you’ve got a director, you’ve got actors, you’ve got lead actors, you’ve got supporting actors, you’ve got the best boy who’s obviously holding the grip, you’ve got the you’ve got the editor in the studio, you’ve got the executive producer who’s checking the budget and making sure that no one goes over budget. You’ve got the studio head who’s going crazy about the directors choices of leading actress, etc. There’s an awful lot of orchestration out there. And that orchestration, then, you know, that’s one of the challenges of ABM. And so we very often what we find is when companies come to agencies like ours, like ourselves, they have, you know, a couple of challenges, they’ve got a resource challenge, and/or they’ve got a knowledge challenge. And so typically, because ABM is relatively new, at the same time, it’s relatively complicated. You know, agencies like us exist, trying to solve those two issues really, helping people with resources, and helping people with the knowledge that they need to be successful, because there’s a lot of companies trying to do ABM, but they may be running some tactical LinkedIn paid into some target accounts, they may be running some direct mail into some target accounts. They may be doing some outbound sales into some target accounts, but they’re not joining all the dots together and they’re not orchestrating it, and then probably have the probably chosen the right accounts in the first place. Because the sales director said these accounts, or the CEO said, Hey, I like these logos, please go and win them for me, which very often happens in a lot of companies, they have a certain obsession with certain logos. And obviously, we tried to kind of demystify a lot of this and try to use data to inform a lot of the decision making. So I think those are some of the challenges that I see out there.

Christian Klepp  30:08

That’s a handful, in terms of the challenges and I you know, I love the Hollywood movie set analogy because that’s just probably like, sums it all up quite nicely, like you know, all the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes that people don’t see on screen. So, um…

Declan Mulkeen  30:24

That’s me that mentioned the audience. You’ve got to we’ve got to watch the film. Right.

Christian Klepp  30:31

So yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. For these next two questions Declan, I’m going to ask you, I mean, if you were if you were in London, I asked you to go to Hyde Park and get up on your soapbox and start preaching that. A commonly held belief or a status quo in the area of ABM that you passionately disagree with, and why?

Declan Mulkeen  30:50

I suppose well, there’s couple of things. One, obviously, if it’s a similarity that people kind of say there exists between demand gen, and an ABM, that’s probably one that I’m pretty passionate about. And I think, you know, I’m not, you know, I have no wish to disrespect any demand gen work. And I think there’s some amazing, amazing stuff being done out there in the market. I see some really, really great campaigns that have been done from a demand gen point of view, but I think it’s a very different discipline, to to ABM. And that’s not to say that the two do and should coexist in the company. It’s not, this is not a binary choice, and I don’t, sometimes people think it is a binary choice. But it’s definitely not a binary choice. Both demand gen, and ABM should coexist. And indeed, there should be a crossover in terms of what demand gen creates, and whether or not any of those accounts that get created through demand gen. Whether they weren’t being fed into an ABM strategy, that’s a very solid approach, really. So I think that’s one of the things that I see a lot out there. Is that kind of mixing the two together when in fact, they are very, very solid, separate disciplines that coexist within an organization. I think that’s number one. I think number two, obviously, is that ABM can it can be done for any type of account. And I think because technology, and we’ve been talking a lot Christian about technology today, because a lot of these technology vendors say hey, you know, you can feed you know, 5000 accounts or 10,000 accounts into this beautiful, you know, Willy Wonka machine, and in the Willy Wonka machine will spit out a whole bunch of different types of chocolate flavor, and we will you know, we all grew up watching that amazing film. But that’s not the reality. And I think it’s very disingenuous to think that you know, you’re doing ABM at that level, account based marketing as the name and the discipline started, is treating one account as a market of one. Now, while I can accept that the purest definition of one to one ABM with deep personalization, trying to win a multimillion pound account has been extended and amplified over the course of last few years to embrace one to few where you’re looking to target, you know, 15, 20 accounts at any one time, what we call clusters, where they have similarities be it they’re in the same sector, in the same industry, they’ve got the same business drivers and business challenge, you can I can, you can do that. And then you can do a level of personalization. When you’re trying to run, you know, ads, content syndication into 1000s of accounts. That’s just, that’s just good demand gen in my, in my opinion. And I think those are the two things for me really.

Christian Klepp  33:37

Yeah, no, it was really great. You know, for you to elaborate on that a bit further and to draw a line in the sand, so to speak. But, yeah, and I love the Willy Wonka analogy. You forgot to mention the Oompa Loompa, you know. (laugh)

Declan Mulkeen  33:51

I was trying to think… I tried to think of the name of the lead the lead actor actually whose names escape me actually, but…

Christian Klepp  33:57

Yeah, well, there was the original version, and then there was a Tim Burton version. So depending on which one you’re referring to. Kind of like the closing remarks. Like, you know, this piece of advice that you’d give would-be clients out there that are, you know, contemplating like, you know, using companies like yourself for a for, you know, for their ABM initiatives. What is one thing that you think they should start, and one thing you think they should stop doing when it comes to ABM?

Declan Mulkeen  34:26

Well, I think my answer will probably depend on where they are on their ABM journey, whether they haven’t started yet. I mean, typically, when we kind of survey the market, the answer tends to be kind of 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. 1/3 haven’t started, but are contemplating starting, 1/3 are in the early stages of ABM, and 1/3, a much more mature 12 months plus. But each one of those three groups have different needs when it comes to ABM. So and we obviously are an agent to help all three of those groups. But I think if somebody is looking to, to think about starting, my main, I suppose my two pieces of advice would be one, get as close as you can to your sales leaders. Talk to your head of sales, your VP of sales, your sales director, get as close to them as possible. You know, what, what, what, what accounts are they trying to win? You know, and what challenges are they finding when they’re trying to win these accounts or trying to actually, it may be that they’re actually stuck and it may well be when you talk to the head of sales, they might say, you know what we were fantastic at winning accounts. I was talking to a recent, you know, that’s today ABM podcast guest. And they explained to me that their sales team are fantastic at winning accounts, but they’re not great at expanding accounts. So you go through all this effort to win an account, but then you’ve got so many more opportunities within the account. And that’s where ABM can really come into its own, is this kind of whole land and expand. So get close to your sales directors, your sales leaders find out where they are having the greatest challenge. Is it in winning? Or is it in expanding accounts, and do the impossible to help them with that. You as a marketer will know what to do, you’ll know some of the key areas that you can help them with. So that would be my first piece of advice is that. And then my second piece of advice is, and this is something that it’s a question actually, I asked all of the… all of my podcast guests as well is, and the resounding answer from everyone is start small. Start small, don’t try to you know, go you know, don’t have you kind of your eyes are bigger than your stomach, try to have a pilot, a select number of accounts, perhaps for a one to few campaign where you’re targeting a cluster of an industry that you’re interested in, or a business challenge that you can solve, etc. Start relatively small. Test. Jennifer Leaver who heads up ABM, Bazaarvoice, which is, you know, she’s one of the great ABMers is out there, you know, she has a great expression, which is you know, crawl, walk, run. And I think that’s probably a great lesson for everyone is, is just get that kind of rhythm going. And go back to the analogy around running a marathon, you’ve got to get your you know, your step. And once you get your step, then it feels a lot easier. So I think that’s probably a key part as well, really.

Christian Klepp  37:22

And stop?

Declan Mulkeen  37:24

What should they stop doing? Well, I think they should stop seeing marketing as being, you know, a bastion, a silo in its own right, really, and try to be a little bit less defensive of marketing. And I think the thing that is most encouraging about doing ABM is that all these walls come down, you know, all these walls come down. And you start building really, really strong relationships with your sales colleagues, with your customer success colleagues, with your operation colleagues, with the C suite as well with your with your CEO, CFO, CEO, whoever whoever’s out there, you start building some fantastic relationships there because of the fact that you’re all working together on a set of accounts. And then everyone is celebrating those accounts. And I think that really becomes infectious. It really starts everyone to kind of start celebrating together. And so it’s not so much Hey, you know, marketing have done that. We just launched a fantastic billboard, or we’re just on, you know, on Time Square or whatever. You know, that’s all very good and dandy, but it’s actually about Hey, what are we as a business doing? And then everyone celebrates, and I think that becomes really quite contagious, really, and quite infectious. And everyone really gets hooked on moving those accounts through that ABM journey.

Christian Klepp  38:51

Absolutely, absolutely. That was some pretty solid advice. And you know, thanks, thanks again for sharing that. And thank you for coming on, and sharing your expertise and experience with the listeners, I really hope that they, like myself, have been taking notes and that they walk away from this getting tremendous value. So back on, please do us the honor of, you know, telling us a little bit about yourself and how people can get in touch with you. And rumor has it that you’re quite the linguist. (laugh)

Declan Mulkeen  39:15

Well, I’m not sure we had a conversation before Christian and you can probably beat me on a number of languages, but I’m passionate about languages and I’ve studied a few and I speak a few. So it’s one of my passions. But in terms of you know, I’ve been involved in sales and marketing for at least 20 odd years. I’m now living in the mountains north of Madrid, and I don’t think anyone will remove me here from Spain. I’ll end my days here in this beautiful country. And just to find me on LinkedIn, Declan Mulkeen. And obviously, I’m the CMO of an ABM agency strategicabm. So I’m sure you can find us there and I run a podcast at Christian, you’ve listened to a few episodes of called let’s talk ABM and it’s one of my passions as well. It’s just talking ABM to other people out there who are leading the charge, really. So we’re Christian. Thanks once again for inviting me and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Christian Klepp  39:45

Absolutely. Thank you so much Declan for your time and you know, take care, stay safe and talk to you soon.

Declan Mulkeen  39:52

Thank you. Likewise, Christian.

Christian Klepp  39:53

Okay, bye for now.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co, and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.


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