Sales cycles in large, B2B enterprizes, are typically complex, often lengthy and require buy-in from multiple stakeholders in ever expanding buying centres.  Cycles can take months or, in extreme examples, years and, as such, face-to-face engagement is often incredibly important at the right points of any deal or proof of concept demonstration. 

So throw a pandemic into the mix, immediately removing any possibility of in-person relationship building opportunities, while simultaneously needing to safeguard revenue and pipeline, and suddenly demand for marketing – and specifically ABM – support, sky rockets. 

This is exactly the situation SAP found itself in in March 2020. VP of ABM, Eric Martin, sat down with us to explain how he was able to pivot his marketing teams in order to meet that demand by scaling the existing ABM effort (50 high priority accounts became 300!) to help sales teams cut through the wall of digital noise and connect with customers contextually. 

While the work was a huge success, as Eric explained, shocks to the economy – and therefore the sales process – of any kind can create stress factors.  In addition to the rather obvious need to adapt SAP’s 1:1 ABM programs, for example,  in order to cope with the sheer scale of accounts being covered,  Eric also described how, and on a less obvious level, other stress factors, such as staff burnout, came into play. 

In today’s environment, ABM is a more challenging and creative role, which can create fulfilled, engaged teams that achieve needle-shifting results for sales teams in the short term, but this success can nevertheless ultimately become ABM teams’ Achilles heel.  Without careful planning, ABM teams are in danger of becoming victims of their own success as high demand for their time wears individuals down.

This challenge has led Eric to consider a possible life cycle of an ABMer, what the career progression for someone in ABM might look like and how ABM principles and tactics might become integrated with other parts of marketing across the organization, easing the pressure on a single ABM team.

Click here to hear Eric’s views on a possible ABM lifecycle and how he believes some of the solutions he has created for his team at SAP may well become a blueprint for other organizations in the industry.

As Eric points out, there are many good salespeople who, thanks to the pandemic, have now been exposed to a new type of marketing support, and they want more of it moving forwards. You can’t put the ABM support genie back in the bottle, so it’s important to ensure you keep your teams motivated!