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An ABM directive right from the top – Autodesk’s Shellie Smith

#ABM, #Podcasts, #Autodesk, #FlipMyFunnel

The newly appointed CEO of your 10,000 employee, $2B+ revenue company, speaking to analysts and journalists on an earnings call, just announced that your sales and marketing strategy will now be account-based.

Go! Make it happen. Quickly. And profitably.

That’s where Autodesk’s Shellie Smith and her marketing colleagues found themselves less than two years ago. And they delivered. Big time.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shellie, Autodesk’s Americas Lead for Account-Based Marketing, for a recent episode of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast.

If you want to learn about building an ABM capability in a large enterprise, I urge you to check out the full 30-minute episode.

Key takeaways

For those too time-strapped to listen to the full conversation, my big three takeaways are:

  1. They got alignment right (and it didn’t happen by chance).
  2. They focused on people. A lot of effort went into hiring the right team.
  3. They were purposeful about ABM-specific metrics, different from existing demand generation metrics.

Just by nature of saying you’re going to change what you measure, it gets you some credibility with Sales.

Some additional podcast highlights

  • Autodesk quickly launched a “Tiger Team” and pilotted within three months.
  • Within a few more months they scaled those pilots (which covered a few hundred accounts) up to a global, 8,000-account operation.
  • Marketing worked very closely with Sales to determine which accounts a highly personalized approach would make the biggest difference with.
  • A lot of early focus on sales and marketing alignment was vital. They ran a great many sessions for the sales team in which they explained ABM and all the ways it would benefit them. Marketing also learned about the accounts from the people who knew them best.
  • Shellie credits their approach to hiring as a key factor in achieving solid alignment. The ABM team was 75% new hires, and they relentlessly focused on hiring people with a background in both sales and marketing, or at least strong marketers with “a true understanding and empathy for the sales process.”
  • This emphasis on sales-minded marketers (vs. just considering marketing skills and even product or industry knowledge) was vital, and very deliberate. “I just knew this would never work if we had great marketers who couldn’t sit down with a sales team and help them drive their business. They wouldn’t have the credibility to scale this as fast as we were trying to scale”.
  • Right from the start, Autodesk was very intentional about what they wanted to measure. It was all about contribution to pipeline and contribution to closed ACV. It took six or eight months to get to the point where they could properly measure (vs. measuring leads), but “just by nature of saying you’re going to change what you measure, it gets you some credibility with Sales.”
  • The nearer-term metric they watch is account-level engagement.
  • Autodesk is having a lot of success with account-targeted display ads. This has helped them expand awareness and reach more widely within targeted accounts.
  • Direct mail has been successful too, especially moving up the organization. They had a lot of strong existing relationships at the user level, but fewer in the executive ranks. Executive engagement is vital to positioning Autodesk as a strategic partner.
  • What’s next for Autodesk Account-Based Marketing? Better use of data to know where to focus efforts. “That’s what’s going to get us scale.”

Check out the full episode below.