Transitioning to an ABM program is hardly ever as simple as we plan.
Add 86,000 global employees, and it’s quite the ascent.
That’s the situation JLL, a world leader in real estate services, found themselves in.
FMF guest host Steve Watt sits down with Katie Fisher, the Senior Director of America’s Marketing at JLL, to uncover what it was really like for a behemoth real estate service provider to shift to ABM.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Picking the right accounts to focus on
- Tackling the ABM learning curve
- Addressing the fear of transitioning to ABM
The beginning of a new era
You very recently brought home an award from the SiriusDecisions Summit for Program of the Year for ABM. Tell us a little bit about that campaign and what all went into it.
Katie: First and foremost, we’re really proud of that work and proud to work with SiriusDecisions and honored to have received that award.
But, that was really for our pilot when we started account-based marketing over a year ago.
We were in the midst of a lot of change within our marketing organization going from a siloed organization to an ecosystem that was aligned globally underneath our new head of corporate solutions marketing, Debbie Murphy.
We had a lot of opportunities within that time to say how we were going to go about demand generation and what that looks like for us as an organization. That’s when we really decided that there needed to be a high emphasis on account-based marketing.
We started out really small. We chose a large account-based marketing approach; a one-to-one approach if you will. We targeted 13 accounts.
We tested some things in order to see what would work for us and for the commercial real estate industry as a whole, given the rather large size of our deals and the structure of the companies we’re going after.
How did you choose those 13?
Katie: We did a lot of account planning. Because we were in a very transformative state, our data wasn’t the best and we didn’t have access to everything in a real way.
So, we used external research as well as the account and sales plans that each account does and each sales rep does on a yearly basis. Then, we looked at what the white space was.
Plus, we did really deep-dive interviews with everyone who knew those accounts within our organization. We got the nuts and bolts of the buying centers, who was making the decisions, who we needed to target, who we already knew, who we needed to get in front of that we weren’t targeting already.
We actually started with about 50 accounts and whittled down to 13.
Tackling the ABM learning curve
How did you begin to build your allies and bring people along on that journey with you?
Katie: As far as education, it was a long road.
We started this in September of 2017and didn’t actually launch until March of 2018 because we were building up that goodwill, that partnership.
We found one business line lead – as we call them – who oversaw one of our sub-regions in the Americas. He believed in what we were doing. He became our executive sponsor and really pushed it from the top, down.
Then, we started on a roadshow, we educated, we had meetings, we presented on what account-based marketing is, and what it isn’t.
Even going back before that, I had to train my team because this wasn’t a function within their role before the transformation we went through. There was a lot of education across the board. We were really fortunate to have good partners that provided us with great training in the upskilling of my team.
That gave us the tools to go out and educate the business on what we were doing and why it was important and why we needed them to buy into it and be partners with us.
I think a lot of people spend a lot of time and resources in trying to scale too quickly or trying to just jump off at a really large point without having everyone on board.
Addressing the fear of new marketing
Did any of the salespeople push back or take the attitude of not wanting their accounts messed with?
Katie: We definitely had that.
That’s part of the reason we whittled down to 13. There were other accounts that definitely were right for the program. But, for reasons like that, they couldn’t be included.
I think it’s fear of what marketing could possibly do. We’d never operated in this way in the past, so we had to build up goodwill and that’s OK. They don’t need to be a part of the program. We’ll get them back as we build up the goodwill through our continued education and our continued success as we work to scale our program.
It just meant that we didn’t waste our resources and energy on those accounts. We moved forward into where we knew we could be impactful.
Starting small, scaling up
There are going to be unique challenges for any agency that transitions to an ABM approach. The key to taking on such a huge change is to start small.
With 86,000 employees around the globe, Katie and the rest of the team at JLL were able to successfully roll out ABM by starting small and scaling up.
Of course, there were bumps along the road.
Keep in mind, there are always bumps on the path to doing something worthwhile.