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ABM Webinar with Peter O’Neill

Peter O’Neill, from Research in Action and Tav Tepfer from Jabmo will discuss how account-based marketing is becoming essential for survival and growth in the post-pandemic digital era. Peter is a B2B marketing industry veteran. After serving at Forrester/Gartner/META for 20 years, he is currently Research Director at Research in Action GmbH. He is also Lead Analyst for the UK-based community and research organisation B2Bmarketing.net


Tav Tepfer (00:06):

Welcome, everyone to our webinar on why ABM now with Peter O'Neil. We're so excited to be broadcasting today from both Zoom and LinkedIn Live. We will be sending the recording out after this and if you have any questions, please just put them in the chat and we'll take them at the end. Okay. Let's get started.

Tav Tepfer (00:56):

So today I have with me, Peter O'Neill, who is a renowned global analyst who's been focusing on B2B marketing for over a decade now. He started with HP in several marketing roles, including field marketing, product marketing, and corporate marketing globally. And then he went to Forrester for 12 years to do research on anything marketing, really. Now, he's an independent analyst and he really has a unique approach by focusing his strategy on both the vision from the customers and bringing his own strategic vision from his past. That really helps him focus on what's urgent and what's present and how he can give advice to the marketers in B2B. Thank you so much for joining me today, Peter.

Peter O'Neill (01:47):

Yeah. Hi, Tav. Thanks for inviting me. And you made me sound much younger than I look, maybe. You've missed out my Gartner Group and my META Group experience as well. I've been around quite a while.

Tav Tepfer (01:59):

Well, great. We're glad to have you.

Peter O'Neill (02:01):


Tav Tepfer (02:03):

Okay. So let's get started. From a recent survey that you did on account-based marketing, I really thought the suggestion around ABM being a first and foremost strategy was very compelling. Can you expand on this idea?

Peter O'Neill (02:20):

Yeah, sure. I've been talking to companies about ABM for probably over a decade now. I'm currently the lead analyst for the B2B marketing community organization in London and Chicago. And I write some eight research reports a year for them and we run an ABM conference each September in London where we discuss trends and best practices.

Peter O'Neill (02:47):

And then I do regular market surveys with another business partner, Research In Action. They're over there on that side of the graph, Research In Action, on various marketing processes. And I do about 10 of those a year. And the report on ABM in that context, which we'll be referring to in this discussion, was published a few months ago.

Peter O'Neill (03:12):

Now, first and foremost, ABM is a long-established marketing and sales strategy at business services companies. What success has always depended so much on personal empathy and the relationship. The marketers at services companies, they focus on creating content that prove that they understand the customer's world and they also continually feed account intelligence to the account managers or business partners.

Peter O'Neill (03:40):

Now, the trend towards digital marketing and buying as a new way of interacting across all of B2B, plus technology advances in website and general data analytics, has raised a new opportunity for basically all B2B businesses to adopt such an ABM strategy. ABM can then be used to render localized and contextual content, for example, to profile the visitors, to send personalized or at least more specific content to individual prospects, to capture prospects who may have left the website unsatisfied by retargeting them, to gather or calculate a propensity to buy a company or prospect level and then provide this as data to sellers and perhaps even to collate individual digital behavior from individuals into an aggregation across an account level buying team.

Peter O'Neill (04:43):

So yes, ABM is first and foremost a strategy. It first needs to be agreed and, as such, by across the company to get the necessary organization and processes set up. And it's then implemented across all aspects of marketing and sales, including buying technology. But to be honest, it makes little sense to buy ABM software technology if it's not clear what you want to achieve with it.

Peter O'Neill (05:11):

Well, I surveyed 1500 businesses on their ABM status in this research and action report and asked about their most major challenges. The top three challenges cited were, number one, absence of deep account insights, number two, the lack of a plan and due diligence, and three, believe it or not, not having a shared strategy at all with sales. So my last point here, adoption of ABM is also an important signal of marketing and sales alignment. Sales has always worked on accounts. Lead generation at a contact level is considered essentially useless by sales after all.

Tav Tepfer (05:56):

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I mean, we work with our clients to really set the strategy first because that helps you understand what the objectives are and then that helps align your metrics for what you're trying to achieve and did you succeed.

Tav Tepfer (06:16):

We definitely think about ABM as a strategy play first and then with B2B sales cycles being 12 to 18 months long and buying committees being so large, everything really has to be digital all the time to continuously have that ongoing communication with so many people for such a long period of time. I really liked your look on that. At Jabmo, we really explain to B2B marketers that have complex selling organizations that leads are dead. And I see you talk about that leads are neophyte marketing. Do you want to expand on that a little bit?

Peter O'Neill (07:04):

Yeah, I noticed you are quite aggressive in your stance about leads. I try to be a little bit more gentle because there are so many marketers out there who still think that their role is to provide leads.

Peter O'Neill (07:16):

By neophyte, well, I probably mean inexperienced. When I myself was progressing through my marketing career at HP over 20 years, I suspect that I was only put into many of the marketing roles because I was quite good at presenting ideas and stories. I wasn't a salesman for one-to-one meetings and closing deals, but I could promote an offering to larger audiences and motivate them in their buying decisions. What I'm saying is that I became a marketing director at HP without any formal marketing educational training. Some of that came afterwards. And that's probably typical of many marketing careers in the tech industry, probably manufacturing and life sciences as well. But what many marketing neophytes also do is quickly adopt a subservient role to their colleagues in sales and see their role as simply building awareness and being an efficient collector of leads and they qualify and pass those leads to sales and sales does the rest.

Peter O'Neill (08:21):

And to be honest, the sales cycle, for a long time, was like that. The funnel metaphor prevailed. A buyer started with a long list of vendors, they narrowed it down to a short list and then there was some sort of face-off scenario to pick the winner. And so you, well, the sales rep, would feed more and more detail about the offering to the buyers depending on the funnel status.

Peter O'Neill (08:45):

Now, in a recent survey I did of ABM projects for another client. We discovered that those just starting their ABM projects did site lead gen as their main objective. But those who are further down the ABM journey, usually into the second or third year, they talked more about objectives like customer retention, pipeline acceleration, or even new business discovery. So as an industry analyst, my observations with many clients has prompted me to start to attack the funnel metaphor very early.

Peter O'Neill (09:21):

In 2015, I worked with a team of analysts at Forrester to publish the probably now infamous report entitled Death of the B2B Salesman. Now, the "death" word was perhaps over dramatic, but it gave us a platform to predict how buyer, marketing, and sales would be working together in a much more digital world. And now, well, the COVID crisis has been a real accelerant for digital marketing and e-commerce in B2B. Any marketing or sales executives in a manufacturing company who had been still trying to stop the concept of digital transformation affecting their parts of the business, and there were many of them, well, they've had to regather their thoughts very quickly or risk being washed away by the tidal wave of change.

Peter O'Neill (10:14):

Chatty, social sales rep visits on site have now been replaced by digital video conferences with agendas and strict timetables. Buyers now research themselves and they're proven to be very reticent to revealing their identities to the vendors they're looking at until they are ready.

Peter O'Neill (10:37):

In another survey I read recently, 73% of millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions. So it's a much more younger generation of buyer that you're dealing with and interacting with. So all in all, digital marketing has raised the need for better engagement, providing useful information, showing empathy, actually all those things that I cited at the start about services marketing.

Tav Tepfer (11:08):

Wow. That's great. Yeah. I mean, we definitely see the same trends you're seeing. In fact, we're seeing this lead line even move farther to the right. People just don't want to give their name anymore and they can do their research on their own for so long that that's what they are doing. So it just becomes the marketer's role to have to reach them since, to your point, they won't talk to sales anymore either.

Peter O'Neill (11:39):

Incredibly, one of the major reactions in 2020 because of working from home was that many marketers weren't able to track and trace some of the visitors to their website because the IP address was different than the company IP address. And that was a curiosity that sort of came up all of a sudden and you realize what people were doing.

Tav Tepfer (12:00):

Yeah. Well, great. I know a lot of marketers still try to use leads as their success indicator, but if leads aren't showing buying intent for many reasons, because they might just want that valuable piece of content, but they're still not ready to buy or they might be even looking for something personally that they give their name for. So if leads aren't it, what's now the indicator for intent? How do marketers know when they're ready to buy?

Peter O'Neill (12:37):

Yeah. Well, you can see it here, whole progress that shows some of the indicators. And marketers are now getting very good at taking the temperature of a lead. It's not just the lead itself delivered as a factual information to sales to do with the rest of the work, marketing is continually monitoring the engagement of an account. Is that account interested in a topic? Is that account now planning a project? Has that account already budgeted for that project and is coming to a decision process? Who's involved in the decision process? Who has what to say in that process? And so on. All that account intelligence and customer insight is now becoming paramount to taking leadership in the progression of a lead and following the leads. So it's not just lead scoring, it's almost lead intelligence that now needs to be collected along this process.

Peter O'Neill (13:31):

And many of the ABM solutions out there can do this work and collect this type of information for you. So it's moving through those stages and then knowing what to do. Knowing what to do means what type of content do you provide in each of these stages and through which channels? And so, marketers have had to learn to manage their content in a different way, trap tags and triggers and information about the content, metadata around each content piece that says this is used in this stage of the process. This is used when this trigger is initiated or is observed in a customer scenario and things like that need to be gathered and managed around the pieces of content as well. The whole content management process has become very sophisticated in the meantime to work with ABM programs and to work in within an ABM strategy.

Tav Tepfer (14:28):

Yeah, agree.

Peter O'Neill (14:29):

Once again, you can see the most important point on this slide is, and the most important influence for many buyers, is peer advice and peer advocacy.

Tav Tepfer (14:42):

Yeah. We definitely use ABM to give insights all along the way through the stages like is that problem resonating with that set of accounts? Have they internalized that problem? It really does matter to them. When are they looking to see how their peers have solved it because they are thinking about how to solve the problem? So that's really important and helps the marketer understand when to make more content for use cases in a particular industry when they can see these surges.

Tav Tepfer (15:18):

And we really wait until we know that there's that intent to buy to hand this data off to sales. This is an example of a sales battle card, but you can see they've moved through the stages already and we give that information to the salesperson. In this case, Abbott is looking at connected lighting in one particular location in Temecula, California, even though they're headquartered in Chicago.

Tav Tepfer (15:48):

So it made this very easy for the sales rep to understand they're serious in Temecula, California about doing a project. And sure enough, when they got this information and called, there was a huge remodel for that one building and they cited the reasons they were going to go with Eaton's connected lighting here. So they were repeating back the ad information that they'd been getting all along the way. So it was a really good opportunity to get sales involved.

Tav Tepfer (16:23):

Okay. So, great. Looking at the trends for 2021, I know, as an analyst, you don't just rely on peer advice, but you know, you also look at what's happening in the market and savvy marketers are really looking to deploy ABM now, so let's talk about your trends.

Peter O'Neill (16:48):

Yeah, well, I mean, it's also peer advice to some extent that informed these trends, because this is the information that I collect through that survey of 1500 businesses around the globe that I mentioned before. And in the survey, we firstly qualify the person we're talking to, whether they understand and know enough about ABM and then we asked them several questions about preferences, trends, and challenges that they're facing. So we're actually collecting market data or, more importantly, peer feedback in that report. And based on that feedback in the survey, plus, of course, my own conversations with ABM practitioners and with the vendors, I'm able to put down in the report this list of trends that I've been observing.

Peter O'Neill (17:40):

The pandemic and ABM marketing. In another survey I did with B2B marketing, 72% of marketers, almost three-quarters, have confirmed that COVID-19 has accelerated their overall digital transformation. The importance of digital marketing, the supporting technology, and I recognize this as paramount, in ensuring that businesses can continue and the customers can be served. And this is all driving increased ABM investments.

Peter O'Neill (18:15):

ABM platforms focusing marketers on revenue success. They need the functionalities, marketers, within the ABM platforms to discover and prioritize their most important accounts and then collect and distribute insights to enable personalized digital and seller engagement. The example you gave just before, Tav, was being able to deliver insights and then help sellers to be successful in their meetings with potential buyers.

Peter O'Neill (18:44):

And leading edge CMOs have even gone further. They favor an e-commerce model. Not only working through a direct sales force, but supporting an e-commerce model as well. And to do that, they need to focus on customer experience and all of that requires the ABM approach once again.

Peter O'Neill (19:04):

Now, many years ago, B2B marketers would have been saying advertising will never work in our discipline, but lo and behold, advertising has become a standard B2B marketing method. Digital advertising, it's become fundamental and again, another process accelerated by the pandemic. But ABM software is needed to support strong targeting. If it's not targeted properly, then companies will only irritate buyers with their advertising, which leads me, of course, to the next point.

Peter O'Neill (19:41):

Customer expectations are now so important. Business buyers, already overwhelmed by a storm of digital market messaging, expect and elaborate all suppliers communications to be relevant to their current business issues. If they were getting spammed or sent emails that are not relevant, then they're really not going to look on that company very positively and therefore, business marketers in every industry need to seek more ABM functionality to do personalization, to be specific within their content within their tech stack.

Peter O'Neill (20:21):

The last point, all B2B marketing should be account-based anyway. Well, ABM is how B2B marketing should be, if you asked me. B2B sellers have always worked on an account level. And most B2B projects, as you said, Tav, involve large and complex buying centers and decision processes. Mature CMOs have now focused or are now are focusing on account-based work in their marketing organizations, developing and maintaining engagement with important contacts in target accounts. Account-based marketing and selling, and that, for me, is the term. Not ABM, but ABM M&S is how B2B organizations should be working on an ongoing basis, mixing digital and human communications.

Tav Tepfer (21:12):

Yup. [crosstalk 00:21:14].

Peter O'Neill (21:13):

Now, one of the questions we asked specifically was about the type of ABM they've been deployed. The terms that you see being used here on the slide were originally defined by the IT services marketing association, which is a community for marketers of business services companies. In this survey, we insisted that the respondent name, the primary version they deploy, they can only select one.

Peter O'Neill (21:41):

In a similar question, I fielded with B2B marketing in another survey, we offered a hybrid options as well, and lo and behold, 32% of those respondents said they were mixing and matching. And that's actually what I see. The usual progression is that initially, a new ABM team and project focuses on just light or even just strategic, depending on the resources that they can invest in the program. And then over time, they start to mix their approaches as they get good at AB testing and acquire knowledge over the customer engagement. The programmatic ABM customers who are already doing that, well they're more the buyers of a technology for technology's sake. And if they stay focused only on programmatic advertising and programmatic ABM, they're going to find that their prospects will lose interest in them as a supplier. In addition to this segmentation, of course, our survey also had differences, very clear differences, in use cases for ABM, depending on industry or even geography.

Tav Tepfer (22:50):

Yeah. Great. So we definitely see multiple use cases for ABM and most of our clients run multiple programs, whether it be because they're in different stages, consideration stage versus awareness stage, or they're in a completely different division. So what matters in that region is different than what matters in another region or a new product launch, or a cross sale campaign. And maybe they're adding on services because they did just sell the software or the med device. They are so many different use cases and we see them all working together along the way, multiple campaigns running through third time. And it has to be that way, you have to get that relevant and that specific to be able to do account-based marketing. And we agree, we think all B2B marketing should be account-based. It has so much more meaning and gives so much more value when you do it that way. So, very good insight. Well, as you know and your study talks about, the ABM landscape is so vast. I know you reviewed several B2B ABM companies like Jabmo. Can you elaborate on what you like about Jabmo's offering?

Peter O'Neill (24:18):

Yeah, sure. Remember, I'd explained that we interviewed around 1500 business people about ABM, and we also asked them then to provide feedback about the vendors that they know most about in association with ABM. They could be a current or previous customer of that vendor, or they may have talked to the vendor at some point, or they only know what the vendor is showing of itself via the vendor's website. But at the end of the day, perception is reality. And for each axis you see here, strategy and execution, X and Y axes, we ask several specific questions to collect peer feedback again about the vendors, marketing, products, services, responsiveness, innovation, and other stuff. Each respondent gets to score the vendor for those criteria and that form 63% or so of the overall scoring schema. And then I, as an analyst, get to add my point of view for each vendor based on briefings and my knowledge of the vendor in the marketplace, and that scores the remaining 37% of the matrix.

Peter O'Neill (25:31):

And so, our report that we published then includes and profiles the 15 vendors who got the best scores. The matrix shown here, by the way, has values on each axis from three out of five to five out of five. So it's the top quadrant, basically, of the whole possible matrix.

Peter O'Neill (25:50):

Now, it's more of a vendor landscape than a comparative assessment though. We don't compare it to vendors one-to-one or against each other. These other vendors that pop out or discovered in the survey, the names by the respondents. And many companies actually have software from one or more of these vendors installed. But most importantly, once again, we're documenting real peer advice and feedback here.

Peter O'Neill (26:17):

If you look at a quadrant or wave report from other research organizations, they're already describing the analyst's point of view of a vendor's product, there's no direct peer input. There are other sources for peer feedback, sites like G2 Crowd or TrustRadius, and they're similar to consumer feedback sites that you know like Yelp or TripAdvisor, but very busy websites from individual users in feedback from individual users. Our reports are a mix of market feedback and informed analyst representation.

Peter O'Neill (26:55):

Now, in terms of Jabmo, the survey respondents named Jabmo as a market leader and also gave them the highest score of all for the important criterion, price value ratio. And they also awarded, by the way, a five out of five, for Jabmo's product breadth and depth. Congratulations on that.

Peter O'Neill (27:17):

Now, I've known the company since 2013 or so, when they were still called Azalead and they were headquartered in Paris. I remember meeting them in Paris. And now, of course, you are a truly global company and you work with over 60 manufacturers and life science companies to help marketers provide important insights and support to their direct sales force. And the other thing is that your European roots means that you're very expert in privacy, regulatory issues, like general data protection regulation, GDPR. And although GDPR originated and applies in the European union, many American enterprises also now require compliance, not only because they operate in the EU, but in a way, GPDR is becoming like a defacto regulation in North America as well. The absence of an alternative, as they're state by state, these types of regulations are being introduced. So Jabmo, a very impressive ABM provider consulting organization, but also technology platform for many manufacturers and life science companies.

Tav Tepfer (28:31):

Well, great. Well, thank you. Thank you for that. Okay. Let me see if we have any questions. Okay. We do. David asked, "Can you explain surge on slide five?" So let me go back to slide five.

Peter O'Neill (28:50):

Yeah, surge.

Tav Tepfer (28:50):

Sure. So with each of these ads, when we put them into market, we have a goal that we put in place and an expectation of what we think these target accounts will do, how they'll react to these ads. So as you can see in stage one, we wanted 30% engagement with this ad to show that it resonates with those target accounts. And for Abbott, in this scenario, they actually surged 58%. So we moved them to stage two. Again, then there, we had a goal of 70% engagement, meaning that they're moving through that buying journey. And in this case, Abbott got 98% of a surge.

Tav Tepfer (29:35):

So I mean, that really means over the time, like from month to month, how many more people, how much engagement did they get? And we monitor that. So you can kind of follow that out. With a white paper, we expected less of a surge as a goal since we're asking them to put in their credentials there, but we still got quite a big surge there. And then ultimately, when they're really researching product pages, so now we're talking about just a set of pages and that they're digging down to really learn more information about that product and they were digging deeply, that's when we handed to sales and asked them to reach out to their contacts that they had in Temecula. And sure enough, there was a project about to start. Okay, great.

Tav Tepfer (30:32):

So another question is, if we're targeting individuals that are working from home, how can we do that if they're not on a company VPN? How we do that is we focus on large companies, so at some point in time, to access something, they usually do log into a VPN. Some places it's even just to get into your email, you need to be in a VPN, others it's key systems that they have that they might have customer data in it. But we find that at some point they get on the VPN, so we deliver that first ad to them, an IP-based ad. At that same time, we cookie that device so that now, we can deliver ads to them even when they're offline, meaning not on their VPN.

Tav Tepfer (31:26):

And we tie everything together, so even if they might've come to the website and we're retargeting that cookie, because we know it's a certain company, any time, once they connect the dots for us, which people do, then we can really tie together all of that journey and highlight it in our data. But it usually starts with IP advertising if they've never come to your site and then we use a first party cookie when they have come to your site. And we surface all of our analytics in an account-based way so that you can always see what account is doing what.

Peter O'Neill (32:07):

Yeah. And Tav, I mean, in addition to that, there's also progressive profiling where you can have various gates that come up when you collect email addresses or you collect company name and things like that. Of course, many people are reluctant to service those types of fields, so you may not get the information required then. So another clever way to really find out more and more about the visitors is to offer them choice. I'll show them we have five case studies in five different industries, which one do you want to look at? Therefore, you find out which industry they're probably in and most interested in. Then different types of case studies, different types of business cases you can offer them and always give them that sort of a choice and that is a way of profiling their needs as well.

Tav Tepfer (32:52):

Yeah, agree. I agree. Another question is, "Are the cookie cookies permission-based?" Yes. So first-party cookies, you have to accept that cookie consent. As you know, there are all kinds of levels of a cookie consent. We give advice on how to best do that and happy to talk through, but yeah, just to be GDPR compliant, those first party cookies have to be accepted and accepted for the intent of marketing, which we're using them for. We work with our clients to make sure that that's right, gets right. And then we will show that on our dashboard as well, the results of cookies that have been accepted so that you can see the full journey.

Tav Tepfer (33:41):

Great. Let me see if there any other questions. So another question is around how people are getting started with ABM. And what we find there is, start with a use case. You can figure out something that you want to use ABM as a starting point. We see new product launches, we see cross sell campaigns, those are probably the two that people start with. Or we see a regional... We have a lot of European clients, as you can imagine. They can do more traditional marketing in the States, but because of compliance issues in Europe, they had to purge their entire email address data book there. And so, it's harder to reach those key contacts that they need to for accounts. And so, they switched to account-based marketing. And we also have a webinar coming up on how to get budget, help you justify getting budget using ROI for ABM. So join that one as well and we'll help or reach out to us and we can share more information too. Okay. More questions coming in. Let me look.

Peter O'Neill (35:05):

So Tav, just in the chats, I just posted the link to the report that I've been talking about, which is our so-called public version without specific scores and scorecards, but a lot of information in there that might be a good follow-up for many people.

Tav Tepfer (35:21):

Okay, great. Yes, you'll get a recording of this. Somebody asked that. And then someone asked, "Is there still a point to do AB testing or is it time better spent just doing more campaigns?" We do a lot of AB testing. It doesn't happen as fast as it does for email. An email AB test, you can do in a couple of hours. In account-based marketing, you'll have to let it run for usually a couple of weeks to get that information back, but we still do a lot. I mean, we have some corporate marketers that will test one word like, should we do this as one or together? So they'll literally test one word because they're changing their entire branding. Sometimes we test an image because you're selling something pretty technical and how do you get that across? And so we'll do industry-specific images and do some AB testing there.

Tav Tepfer (36:22):

I do think AB testing is still definitely valid, but running a bunch of ads is also a good way to go to get your awareness or if you're in consideration, whichever stage you might be in, because more touch points are better as you're moving them through that buyer's journey. I hope that that helped.

Tav Tepfer (36:48):

Well, great. Let me come to our summary here. In summary, we talked a lot about ABM being strategic and really should be the way that you think about all marketing, is making it account-based in this environment today. You really want to align your objectives and metrics for each stage of that program so that you understand what you're going for and what a surge is and what success is so that you know how to move them through that buyer's journey.

Tav Tepfer (37:22):

And then you heard it here from Peter, ABM is now. The sooner that you start, the faster you'll get business results. And everybody's looking to grow revenue and this is a great way to do it. So, thank you, Peter. Thank you very much for joining me in this conversation today, I enjoyed it. And thanks everybody for joining, we will get the recording out to you. And up next is our how to get budget for ABM, so watch out for that. And we will talk to you soon. We'll be reaching out too, to see if you have any questions, so feel free to contact us, but we'll reach out as well. All right.

Peter O'Neill (38:03):


Tav Tepfer (38:04):

Have a good rest of your week. Thanks, Peter. Bye

In this webinar, Tav and Peter will discuss

Why leads and MQL’s are dying a slow death

How ABM is first and foremost a transformational strategy

ABM trends for 2022

Webinar Speakers

Tav Tepfer

Tav Tepfer - Chief Customer Officer at Jabmo

Tav has worked with many of the world’s top 100 manufacturing and life science companies in building successful account-based marketing strategies.

Jonathan Alves

Peter O'Neill - Research Director @Research in Action GmbH

Peter O’Neill is an IT industry veteran with nearly 40 years of experience in advising vendor and end-user clients and performing research-based consulting, combining strong research capabilities with comparative vendor assessments and actionable advice.