Podcast: The Difference Between ABM in SaaS Organisations vs Services with Andrew Fitzgerald from Kyndryl

Allysa Maywald 27  mins read Updated: March 15th, 2024

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What are the differences between ABM in SaaS organisations vs services?

In this episode, Andrew Fitzgerald, Vice President of ABM at Kyndryl chats with Shahin Hoda about how Kyndryl successfully started and grew their ABM program.

Find out about the unique challenges and opportunities Kyndryl encountered during their ABM journey, including how they gained buy-in from leadership and demonstrated the ongoing value of their ABM efforts.

You’ll also learn about the importance of visibility and reputation and how they can affect how you pick the right customers to jump on board your ABM program.

This episode’s guest

Frame 19

Andrew Fitzgerald, Vice President of Account-Based Marketing at Kyndryl

Andrew is the executive responsible for the global implementation of Account Based Engagement (Account-Based Marketing) at Kyndryl.

Andrew's previous experience encompasses a wide variety of technology and services marketing roles building and leading multi-discipline, high-performance teams, designing & delivering digital-first, multi-channel campaigns to IT and business audiences across industries.

Prior to his current role Andrew led the EMEA Marketing team supporting IBM Services Business Units, responsible for Field and Performance Marketing execution and leading the implementation of Account-Based Marketing for IBM in Europe.

Andrew is also a member of the ITSMA European Advisory Board (IT Services Marketing Association) and a trustee of the IBM UK Trust, an independent charity that seeks to advance education, research and conditions for the disadvantaged and disabled through the use of technology.

Conversation segments on this episode:

  • [02:39] The beginning of the ABM function at Kyndryl
  • [08:25] How ABM at Kyndryl differs to other organisations
  • [26:25] Challenges met while building the ABM program
  • [32:33] How to measure success of an ABM program
  • [38:06] Building an ABM program in a services company vs SaaS organisation
  • [42:26] Rapid fire questions

Resources mentioned in this episode:

About the Growth Colony Podcast

On this podcast you'll be hearing from B2B founders, CMOs, marketing & sales leaders about their successes, failures, what is working for them today in the B2B marketing world and everything in between.

Hosted & Produced by Shahin Hoda, Allysa Maywald & Alexander Hipwell, from xGrowth

Get in touch!

We would love to get your questions, ideas and feedback about Growth Colony, email podcast@xgrowth.com.au

Episode Full Transcript

[01:49] Shahin Hoda  Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode. I'm Shahin Hoda with xGrowth, and today I'm talking to Andrew Fitzgerald, Vice President, Global ABM at Kyndryl, about the differences between running ABM for a SaaS organisation versus a service-based organisation. On that note, let's dive in. Andrew, thanks a lot for joining us.

[02:13] Andrew Fitzgerald  It’s my pleasure. Looking forward to it.

[02:15] Shahin Hoda  The first question that I have is, Kyndryl is a large organisation separated from IBM, but it is relatively a young organisation. I guess on the back of that, the question that I have is obviously in this young organisation, starting ABM could be a bit of a challenging process. My question is, where did you start building the ABM function at Kyndryl?

[02:44] Andrew Fitzgerald  OK. Great question. Thank you. So you're right. We were a relatively young organisation in some ways. We actually formed in November 2000 and November 18 months ago, roughly speaking. And IBM, the company that we split from, announced it was going to happen probably 12 months or so before that. And as we started to prepare for that split within the marketing team, we obviously had to make some choices about what we wanted to build, what we were going to look like, what our priorities would be.

[03:27] Andrew Fitzgerald  And given the nature of our business, we decided relatively early on that ABM was going to be an important play for us. Because we have,  we're in a space where we're a large, complex organisation working with other large complex corporations. And it's, whilst we have thousands of customers that the ones who are really fundamental to our future can probably be numbered in the hundreds. So that we knew that we needed to focus on getting our organisation back to growth. 

[04:08] Andrew Fitzgerald   And to do that, the growth of our most important, most valuable customers was key. So that kind of situation lended itself very well to an account-based marketing approach. Our challenge, at least in the short term, is not about acquiring hundreds or thousands of new customers. It's about growing the customers that we have. It's about taking advantage of our incumbency. It's about taking advantage of the work that we already do to extend into new spaces. That's something that's absolutely right for ABM. 

[04:44]  Andrew Fitzgerald So early on, it was apparent to us that it was an important play for us. We got started by bringing together a few people that had an interest in the space and a willingness to experiment. So we started experimenting with a few accounts, literally less than ten, just to try and figure out how we might develop the approach, figure out how to make it work, try and get some early successes 

[05:14] Andrew Fitzgerald And based on that, we then grew to expand it to more customers, figure out what the basis of our approach would be. But the kind of classic advice, if you read that at any of the many books, blogs, literature about ABM, start small and grow. And that's what we tried to do at the very outset.

[05:36] Shahin Hoda  Okay. So starting with less than ten accounts focusing on existing customers, did you have much difficulty selling the idea internally or it was like, you know, everyone was coming from the ABM world. Everyone's like ABM, of course, that makes sense. That's what we're going to or we're going to go. Was kind of selling the idea and the approach one of the things that you had to focus on or that was kind of like that maturity was already there within the organisation.

[06:06] Andrew Fitzgerald  A bit of both. On the one hand, the story that one of the stories that I was CMO tells is of first meeting with Nelson Schweitzer, who's our CEO. And he absolutely bought into ABM and had a vision of ABM for the organisation and how he wanted to use that to develop a really deep understanding of our customers based on data, use that understanding to figure out how to get our organisation back to growth. So on the one hand, it was a relatively easy sell from that perspective. Having a CEO interested in it, creates some interesting challenges in itself, sometimes. 

[06:54] Andrew Fitzgerald  But of course, there's lots of other people in the organisation and they all need to be bought into what we're trying to do as well. And that can be people in a sales organisation across the rest of the organisation and within the marketing team itself. Where, as I talk to peers doing ABM in other organisations, one of the things that I think that's very apparent to me is and maybe this is true about marketing generally, not just ABM, that there's a need to constantly not sell, but constantly prove the value.

[07:32] Andrew Fitzgerald  So we have regular reviews with our stakeholders in the business, and that for us is all about showing the value of what we do. And sometimes we get asked very difficult questions. Sometimes, you know, not everything is perfect, but it's the fact that we have a great review with our company president one day doesn't mean that in a month's time or a quarter's time, we're not going to have to go through the process again and demonstrate the value that we've continued to provide. So, we had good buy-in from the outset, but it's something that we continue to need to demonstrate the value of all the time.

[08:13] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Got it, got it. And obviously, ABM takes time and people forget that it's like six months down the line. What is going on with that? I totally see that. What are some of the areas of ABM at Kyndryl that in your opinion, might be different compared to some of the other companies?

[08:33] Andrew Fitzgerald  Okay. A few things. First of all, one of the things that we built early in the program was a platform that we call LTV, lifetime value. It isn't really about lifetime value. Just the name that we happen to use internally, but it is a data-based platform to help us understand our customers better, both where they are today and the future potential. And it marries a lot of internal data, and we hold lots and lots of data as you can probably imagine on our customers and what's going on with them and what's in their infrastructure. And we buy in external data to help us get a rounded view. 

[09:24] Andrew Fitzgerald  Our customer, their I.T. estate, both hardware and software and services that they use and use that to understand, as I say, the where they are today, where we see the potential value in the future and use that to inform the customers that we prioritise, who we choose to have in our ABM program. But also it's used across the business in a number of ways, you know, to help determine how and where we deploy resources outside of marketing as well.

[09:57] Shahin Hoda Right. 

[09:58] Andrew Fitzgerald  So really understand the current and future value of a customer and prioritise that for the program. But then at the individual account level, where do we see the opportunity for growth? Where do we see the adjacent spaces to where we are today? Where do we see the issues that we can help customers to address? And therefore, what do we need to do or where do we need to work to get back to that growth position, that ambition for the short term?

[10:27] Shahin Hoda  I mean, yeah. So that's one thing and I want to come back to the other things that are on your list. But I mean, that is a massive undertaking and you hear quite often people talking about that. That's a big challenge, like, oh, how do you do ABM when you have that data? How do you do ABM when I don't have access to all the data? This sounds like it was more of like a business initiative rather than the ABM team saying, we got to build this thing. Is that a fair assessment or was it really like an ABM initiative?

[11:01] Andrew Fitzgerald  Yeah, it wasn't an ABM initiative, it was a business initiative. It was led by. it wasn't even just the ABM team. It was the marketing team pulling it together. But yes, absolutely. That was not just for ABM, not just for marketing. It's as you said, it's a business initiative delivering value across the business.

[11:21] Shahin Hoda  That's amazing. That's amazing. And I would imagine that took a fair bit of time to, was that infrastructure already there or really was like starting from scratch?

[11:30] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's never starting from scratch entirely, but it was so, some elements of the infrastructure were there. Obviously, a lot of the data was there. But this is going on in an environment when we're separating from what was our parents' organisation, IBM, at the time. So there's a whole bunch of changes going on right across our infrastructure as an organisation, which by the way, is still going on because it's so big and so complex. So there's lots of things to negotiate, getting the data in the right place to be able to aggregate it together, to be able to import the external data that you need, smash it together. You can tell I'm not, smash it together

[12:18] Shahin Hoda  It's a technical term, technical term, ABM marketers if you want to talk to technical teams, that's the lingo you got to use it.

[12:27] Andrew Fitzgerald  Yeah, it's so it was a significant undertaking and one that has delivered its value and will continue to deliver value in the future. And by the way, you know, we've still got lots of scope to to use this in other bits of the organisation, too, where we're working very closely with our broader go-to-market team at the moment to really take even more advantage of that as we think about how we do account planning, not just for our ABM accounts, but for for all our accounts across the organisation and how we use that to help make better decisions. You know, right across the board.

[13:06] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Got it. Okay. So the data visualisation, building the LTV is obviously one of the one of the areas that that Kyndryl has probably a more mature and different approach organisation and what else comes to mind.

[13:21] Andrew Fitzgerald  So there's a few other things. One is, again, as I talk to peers in other organisations, perfectly understandably, ABM is something that is extra, is an add-on to what they do as a marketing team. Let's start doing ABM. Let's hire some people. Let's give some people the mission and go do it alongside what we've always done. And of course, I exaggerate a little bit here, but partly because of the unique situation we're in, in that we're a young organisation, but we've got decades worth of history from when we were parts of IBM. 

[14:04] Andrew Fitzgerald  But we get the chance to almost start from scratch in many ways. And ABM is absolutely core to our marketing. How we understand success as a marketing organisation. It's not the only thing, but when I look at our overall marketing plan for this year, the outcomes that we talk about for the marketing plan in its entirety are about reputation, relationships. And we used to talk about revenue, but we got very specific on that. For us as a services organisation, it's about sign-ins which is the precursor to revenue for an organisation like ours.

[14:50] Andrew Fitzgerald  So the ABM, we're really trying to embed ABM as the core of how we do marketing. And yes, of course, we had a brand to build and we still have a brand to build. And that was a big priority for us in the very early days of our organisation and continues to be. But our emphasis is really about account growth. Fundamentally, that's what the mission of the organisation as a whole is, and that's what marketing is that to help drive and support as well.

[15:23] Shahin Hoda  Interesting. Very interesting. Yeah. So ABM is baked into the core of the organisation, which is fascinating. I was reading something about Snowflake where they were talking about the same thing where they were saying, you know, all the way from CEO, we talk account-based or the whole GTM is account-based. Everything is revolving around an account-based model. So it's not like, oh, yeah, we do ABM here as well on the side. So love that. OK, what else, what else is on that list?

[15:56] Andrew Fitzgerald  What else is on that list? So I mentioned it already, I think, but ABM for us is very much about existing accounts. And again, lots of organisations tend to talk about ABM as a new customer acquisition play. Not that I'm not suggesting for a minute there's anything wrong with that. And we do absolutely have teams looking to acquire new accounts, but again, because of the position we're in, because of the organisation, our route to growth in the short term is about growing our existing accounts. So that's very much what the marketing team is working on as well. 

[16:34] Andrew Fitzgerald  We do have a few exceptions where in our ABM program we will consider working with a potential new logo customer, but it's very much an exception. We're pretty much all about growing existing customers and I think the last thing I would say that makes us different from many organisations is how we talk about the success or otherwise of the program. For us, we're really clear. We don't talk about MQLs or SQLs. We don't talk about marketing attribution, we don't talk about how that tactic performed. Of course, we do, as we get kind of really intense on things, but we're really clear the ABM program is about growing customers. 

[17:21] Andrew Fitzgerald   If we grow those customers, as I said at the beginning, we're successful and that's marketing and sales together.  The organisation as a whole. So for us that is not just marketing and sales, but big delivery teams working on accounts as well. Our goal is growing those accounts. We do that, we win or we lose together. A friend of mine who runs ABM for ServiceNow, Gemma  Davis, early on in my ABM journey, she spoke about the culture she was trying to build, which was this idea of we win or we lose together.  And I love that. And it's something that I continue to strive to make happen for Kyndryl. So, that would be the last, I think 

[18:06] Shahin Hoda  Love it. That's I mean, that's very critical and it's just it is hard to get to that point. Sometimes one team doesn't perform well, sometimes another team does not come to the table. So getting to the nirvana of ABM sounds amazing.

[18:22] Andrew Fitzgerald  We all will. You know, whenever we talk about what we're doing in our companies, we all try and paint the positive picture and everything is perfect.

[18:32] Shahin Hoda  No, I mean absolutely. There's everybody. Everybody has challenges, right? And it's just important to learn from one another. Hence, we're doing this podcast. One question that I wanted to ask you is, can we talk about, you know, you said you started with ten accounts, what does the proram look like now? How many accounts does it include? How does that structure look like? Are there like multiple tiers? How has it evolved over time?

[18:59] Andrew Fitzgerald  To use another cliche that I like very much, we've been on a journey. As I said, we started with less than ten accounts. We saw some early success. So we were very gung ho at let's scale this fast. Let's do as much as we can as quickly as we can. And we worked with our country organisations and we ended up, I think with somewhere between 70, 80 accounts as we were really beginning to get going, rapidly realising that a number of those were mistakes for one reason or another and scaled it back. And you know, in our first full year of operation we worked with 50 accounts which was really what it boiled down to spread

[19:52] Shahin Hoda  And that was worldwide.

[19:53] Andrew Fitzgerald  Worldwide. Absolutely. So those, those 50 accounts as we got to a mature state where we could look back and really try and understand performance, we saw success this year. So all our financial year starts on 1st of April. So we're just over a quarter into our latest financial year. We're now we've now doubled the size of the program effectively.

[20:21] Andrew Fitzgerald  We have just over a hundred accounts in our program. And you know what? It may go up a little bit more, may come down a little bit. Again, you know, these things need to be agile enough and responsive enough to be able to, to to move around. But we've just been through a very comprehensive exercise of looking at our existing accounts, which ones that we want to keep in the program, which ones do we want to take out, and which of the new ones that we want to bring in.

[20:48] Andrew Fitzgerald  And because we've got that good, solid base of experience now, we've got a better understanding of what makes the right accounts, where we think we can make a difference, what are what conditions need to be like to enable us to be successful. So yeah, now just over a hundred accounts.

[21:07] Shahin Hoda  Amazing. Are these hundred accounts are all in. How do you define them in terms of how you're approaching them? Are they all one-to-one ABM, strategic ABM, or are they like one-to-few? Are they kind of like bigger buckets? How do you approach like, you know, prioritising them?

[21:25] Andrew Fitzgerald  OK, great question. Relatively hot topic that they and so first thing to say is we don't want somebody that's not our business. We're not interested. Not interested is the wrong word. But it's not appropriate for our business. That's that's not our business. We're in the 50 accounts that we spoke about, I would really characterise as one-to-one when we were doing it last year.

[21:48] Andrew Fitzgerald  And yet times that it wasn't all, strictly speaking, one to one because some of our idea was some of our field marketers had more than one customer. And we did have some little clusters of accounts in some places but fundamentally, the approach was a one-to-one approach. We started out realising that we wanted to scale it further.

[22:08] Andrew Fitzgerald  And of course, we're not going to we're not looking to add new people and we're not looking to spend any more money overall as an organisation. So how do we how do we double the number of accounts that we want to cover? Inevitably, that led us to talking about once a few and clusters and how we make that work.

[22:30] Andrew Fitzgerald  So the the honest answer is we're doing one to few because pretty much all of our field marketers have a few accounts that they're doing ABM for. However, as I've really dug into this, I want a few is really just one-to-one in my view. Because you can't get and maybe this is one of the differences in an organisation like ours compared to some others that we still need to really deeply understand those customers.

[23:03] Andrew Fitzgerald  You still need to really think about how you're going to prioritise. You still need to figure out what the value proposition is that you want to take to those accounts. You can't skimp the steps that you need to go through. And we started with this belief that hey, a bank is a bank is a bank. And, you know, they all have a need to modernise their IT infrastructure. 

[23:25] Andrew Fitzgerald  So, you know, let's cluster the banks together and we can do it.

[23:30] Shahin Hoda  Let's smash smash them in that cluster.

[23:33] Andrew Fitzgerald  But you know what? That they all start from different places. Their IT infrastructure is all different there may be similarities, but it's all different. They all have different approaches to how they want to modernise that infrastructure. They all have different priorities within that. They all use different language and different approaches to want to do it. And so the whilst superficially, it's very easy to cluster accounts in a business like ours, it's very difficult to do that in a meaningful way because our answer on the one hand is you know, let's stick to the let's stick to the example of modernising infrastructures.

[24:13] Andrew Fitzgerald  Our answer for lots of the challenges for organisations will be we will help you modernise your infrastructure we'll help you move away from traditional architectures onto the cloud. We'll help you manage your security within that and all the different elements that an organisation needs to think about. But what we actually end up doing for bank number one is going to be quite different from what we end up doing for bank based on their circumstances.

[24:39] Andrew Fitzgerald  So we do want a few, but it's actually it really is a one-to-one approach in most, most respects, and that puts a lot of pressure on the people. How do you actually make that work? And that's something we're still figuring out. And if anybody out there listening to this has great ideas, I'd love to talk to them because maybe, maybe I'll come back in 12 months time and we'll tell you how we really got on with trying to make this work, because it's not easy.

[25:11] Shahin Hoda  That's that will be a fascinating conversation because I know a lot of, a lot of, you know, even our agency side we have people who come in and they're like, you know, yeah, I'm looking at like maybe some net new acquisition in this space. And then we have a bunch of existing customers that we're looking at expanding and I usually have to like hold them off.

[25:32] Shahin Hoda  And I'm like, look, if you're talking about expansion of new existing customers, almost all of those, every single one of those is like a whole different ballgame. So you got to think of it individually almost as like a campaign per account. Don't go and say, Yeah, we got a bunch of, you know, existing customer. We've got to expand.

[25:50] Shahin Hoda  Let's just put them in one bucket boy that's going to that's going to go sour really quickly. So now is that it's very fascinating and very interesting to hear later on scaling 100 accounts globally in in really a one-to-one model hands out look like on the back of that Andrew we've touched on some you've kind of talked about the fact that there were at the beginning you started with maybe 70-80 accounts and they were understanding that you realised there were some of them were not right and you had to change those.

[26:25] Shahin Hoda  My question is what are some of the mistakes that you came across in this 18 months as part of the ABM that you realise, oh well we shouldn't have done that? What are some of the things that come to mind from a mistake perspective?

[26:39] Andrew Fitzgerald  We didn't make any mistakes.

[26:45] Shahin Hoda  None whatsoever.

[26:47] Andrew Fitzgerald  None at all. We learned some things quite painfully sometimes.

[26:54] Shahin Hoda  But what were to some of the challenges, some of the challenges that you face?

[26:58] Andrew Fitzgerald  Yeah. So I spoke already about picking the right customers, and I think that I think we've learned a lot about choosing the right customers, and I hate it even, even now I'm, I'm sure we'll pick some customers that, that will turn out to be not they're not the right choices for, for the long term and we'll have to drop them.

[27:22] Andrew Fitzgerald  Sometimes that's what's going on in a customer themselves. One of the one of the accounts which we picked recently in Australia actually was on the face of it looked like a really good choice. But pretty soon after we made that choice, the customer made a very significant change in direction about their approach and who they wanted to partner with, not from our perspective, but for other infrastructure suppliers which impacted the choice.

[27:53] Andrew Fitzgerald  So, so, we so sometimes, you know, customers will change direction, which means it's not good a lot of the time as well. It was and I know this is a classic thing that lots of people encounter. It was about working with the account teams, the business teams, the sales teams on those accounts. And really getting the right buy-in and the right attention from the rest of the team working within accounts.

[28:20] Andrew Fitzgerald  We all know I think we all know that ABM is not just a marketing thing, it's a marketing and a sales and a solution and a delivery and all the other bits of your organisation coming together to be successful. And if you don't have the buy-in and active engagement and support from those teams, you can't make it work sometimes and often that's not because they don't want to.

[28:43] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's because, you know, they've got other priorities and other things that need to be fixed within an account. So a lot of the times we we had to roll back because we didn't have that support. Yeah. Thinking that, yeah, we, we know would be better tomorrow. We know we can persuade them this is the right thing to do.

[29:05] Andrew Fitzgerald  Yeah. Sometimes that works. But often, you know, I think marketing people tend to be optimists a lot of the time. And sometimes that optimism doesn't always turn out to be well-founded. Perhaps so. So we learned a lot going through those kind of cycles. The other thing that well actually one relatively minor thing, first of all, we started that whole sales and marketing together thing we started out saying, you know what, we're not going to call it account-based marketing because that has some particular connotations.

[29:37] Andrew Fitzgerald  We really want the the organisation to think that this is not just a marketing thing. So we're going to call it account-based engagement. And that's what we that's what we called it. And remember, I said our CEO was interested in ABM and wanted to talk about ABM and regularly does with our CMO, the term ABE, account-based engagement just never stuck.

[30:00] Andrew Fitzgerald  Whatever we were talking with our stakeholders in the business, we would talk ABE and they would say yes. So this account-based marketing thing really interesting. Tell me. We gave up. It's account-based marketing. It's easier that way. But there's a lot of things to explain without having to try and do that. So ABE versus ABM, that was turned out to be a mistake, a trivial one, relatively speaking, but nevertheless, maybe an interesting one. But the other big one, I think, was not paying enough attention to the numbers and the ROI.

[30:43] Andrew Fitzgerald  And by that, I mean, we were spending all our time doing focusing on the what needs to be done and believing that, hey, we do these things right. We focus on building reputation we focus on on engaging with the right people in the account and building the relationships that the numbers are going to come without really thinking it properly through.

[31:10] Andrew Fitzgerald  That's great. But how are we going to measure it? How are we going to show the return on investment to our organisation? Clearly, crisply, in a way that our business leaders understand, buy into and support? And the if I were doing it again, that's the one thing I would really do differently, which is that I would have a much clearer view in my mind and within the organisation about exactly how we're going to measure that ROI and start that measurement sooner.

[31:44] Andrew Fitzgerald  Now, you said already ABM is a long-term thing certainly in a business like ours, you don't see return on investment in three months or six months or even 12 months sometimes. But you've got to be very clear about what that is, where you're going, what that all ROI needs to look like and how you're going to measure on the way to it.

[32:06] Andrew Fitzgerald  And we've got a lot better at that over the past six months or so. But for a long time, it was quite a painful thing. And had we started sooner it would have been less painful.

[32:21] Shahin Hoda  And I think that's a that's a very important point. I want to dove a little bit deeper into that because I think this is a challenge that a lot of individuals face when they're looking at ABM. And I'm very curious if you were able to share any additional information of how do you measure the success. I mean, we did talk about the relationship and reputation and saying but when it comes to basically rubber meeting, hitting the ground, how do you measure that? And what do you show the business that, hey, you hear the numbers?

[32:59] Andrew Fitzgerald  Yeah, great question. They like most organisations, I'm sure we measure lots of things. We have some proxies that we use for reputation, and we're working on some other things as an organisation as well. At the moment, for a relatively young organisation whose name is not necessarily well known, it's really important that we get visibility of what we do.

[33:29] Andrew Fitzgerald  And so we look at a bunch of things which which probably go a bit too deep to go into now. But we look at so what are the things we can measure around reputation. And for us, a lot of the time, that is how we show up externally in our partnership with the with the customers that we work with.

[33:49] Andrew Fitzgerald  So we look at things that we do across social media. We look at how we show up at events and we try and look at the impact of some of that on relationships. We work relationship maps with account teams. We try and figure out who we know, who we don't know, but we need to know and measure the strength of those relationships.

[34:09] Andrew Fitzgerald  And we do that together with our with our sales teams fundamentally and delivery teams a little bit. And then on the I'll call it the revenue piece. But as I say, that for us is the signings piece and that gives it a way pipeline and signings as it is for many organisations in our kind of space is the fundamental thing.

[34:28] Andrew Fitzgerald  And I was recently doing a business review with probably our most important stakeholder a few weeks ago talking through the latest sets of numbers. And I had I had a page full of numbers across relationships and reputation and signings and pipeline and all this stuff. And one of the one of the things I'll remember for a long time is is a company president said to me this one number on this page that I care about, just one.

[35:00] Andrew Fitzgerald  And that's the signings number. Lots of other things matter to us and to him as well. I know. But, you know, signings is just the precursor to revenue. You've got to turn those signings into revenue and you've got to be able to do that profitably and all of those things are key. But when it comes to the performance of this program, it's about signings.

[35:19] Andrew Fitzgerald  And here's why we chose to double the number of ABM accounts after going through quite a painful process to really understand our ROI. We looked at the performance of ABM accounts compared to comparable non-ABM accounts for us. ABM accounts performance 32 percentage points better than comparable accounts. And you know what? As we've continued to look at this, that differential grows over time.

[35:44] Andrew Fitzgerald  So our ABM accounts significantly outperform non-ABM accounts. Is that down to the events that we do or the digital stuff that we do or how we build reputation in those accounts or any of the other individual things that we do? I don't know all I know is that together with the journeys that we drive with our sales teams, with the rest of our marketing colleagues, we managed to grow those accounts significantly faster.

[36:16] Andrew Fitzgerald  Now, maybe we just pick accounts that would have grown faster anyway. Maybe that maybe all of this would happen without an ABM program in place. But I doubt it because the other the other kind of less obvious but really important thing that I care about is what I hear back from our customer partners who are the who are the people who manage the relationship are ultimately accountable for what we do for our customers and the profit or loss and the revenue that we generate from those accounts pretty much unanimously for the accounts that we work with.

[36:51] Andrew Fitzgerald  They rave about not just the field marketer that they work with. He's driving ABM for them, but the way marketing shows up in a completely different way than they have been used to or seen before and the difference it makes for their accounts and whether that's helping to drive a big new renewal or a big new deal, whether that's helping them to get to engage with people they've never been able to talk to before or any of the other things that we try and achieve within an accounts but that's fundamentally what it amounts to.

[37:24] Andrew Fitzgerald  So ultimately it's about signings and and the ROI that we manage to deliver based on that. But also it's about what our key stakeholders see and value on the ground all the time.

[37:38] Shahin Hoda  That is the best feeling when sales comes and says, we love, we love what marketing is doing in the marketing world, I want to say there's no such thing better when you get acknowledgment like that from a sales team and, and that's, that's fantastic. Last question. And we've touched on a lot of different areas where ABM could be different in the services space.

[38:06] Shahin Hoda  But I want to ask this question. If there is something that we maybe haven't touched on that you think it would be worth covering, and that is what are your thoughts about the differences between SaaS-based organisations, doing ABM and service-based organisations doing ABM is there we've talked about a number of things. We've talked about this very strong focus on customers we've we've talked about kind of the performance looking at the performance between ABM, non ABM, but is there anything else that come to mind in terms of that difference? Running ABM into those two different type of organisations?

[38:45] Andrew Fitzgerald  You're right, which I think we've touched on a lot of things already. I think that as I do, try and spend quite a bit of time talking to is running IP in their organisations. And in fact, I was I was talking to to one of those people yesterday in a not technology at all, but another services organisation. And one of the things we agree on, and I see this from my peers in services companies, is it's not about technology for us.

[39:21] Andrew Fitzgerald  A lot of the conversation in ABM circles is about technology and how to use technology to deliver European program. And there's there's loads of it out there. And I'm not saying it isn't important. I'm not saying we don't use it because we do. But fundamentally, we are a people business and a relationships business. And I think that's what services businesses usually are.

[39:47] Andrew Fitzgerald  And therefore, it's all about how we engineer relationships or enable relationships between Kyndryl’s people and our customers because that's where the magic happens. And so for us, it's it's all about people as a as a business ourselves, at Kyndryl we talk about marrying people in technology because that's what we do for our customers and from it. And that parallel works really well for idea to I think it's about people and technology, but I for me it always linked what's really important in the success of the ABM program.

[40:23] Andrew Fitzgerald  Lots of things, but great people are really at the heart of it. The thing I really care about more than anything else is how do we get the best field marketers that we possibly can to go and work with our account teams? Because they could. But with or without technology, they enable the, the, the return on investment that ultimately, ultimately we need so as I compare that to what I hear from vendors, from platform companies and from SaaS companies, a lot of the time the talk is about new customer acquisition and how how we're deploying the latest technology to be able to achieve what we want to out of our ABM program.

[41:07] Andrew Fitzgerald  That, that, as I said, I'm not saying it isn't important, but it's a it's a distant second priority to me compared to the importance of having the right people, the right culture, enabling them well, giving them the right education and skills to be able to to do what they need to do as an organisation. So I think that for me is really, really fundamental.

[41:29] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's it's if we can get that right, the rest follows. And, and I'm I'm not sure I necessarily see that in lots of other organisations doing ABM.

[41:40] Shahin Hoda  Get the people part right.

[42:26] Shahin Hoda OK, this is great chat. Great let me just do some rapid-fire questions. Let's let's hear up some rapid-fire questions before we wrap up. OK, so the first question I want to ask is what is one resource? This could be a book, a blog, a podcast, whatever, whatever comes to mind that has had a profound impact on the way you work or live.

[42:49] Andrew Fitzgerald  I've really struggled to pick one thing, so I'm not going to because one of the.

[42:57] Shahin Hoda  I guess I'll take a couple. I'll take a couple.

[42:59] Andrew Fitzgerald  OK, so so one of the one of the great things about working in big organisations, like the ones I've been lucky enough to work in is you get access to lots of education and skills, develop resources and so on. Well, one of the most profound things for me was the idea of a growth mindset. And lots of people talk about it in lots, lots of different ways.

[43:24] Andrew Fitzgerald  But but it's something that a lot of it some years ago now, when I first came across the term, when I first began to understand what it means, the way it really enables you to, to reframe and rethink about what you know, how to approach work life. Just, just that the principles that underlie that for me were you know, spot sparks new ways of thinking and new ways of behaving.

[43:56] Andrew Fitzgerald  And that went along with the time I was getting very interested in. And as organisation, we were getting very interested in the notion of Agile and how we deployed Agile methodologies in how we do marketing and all of that stuff. Coming together really changed my attitude to how I work and how I operate. And so so it's not a book or a blog or a podcast. There are lots of lots of people talking about that. But it's those ideas really that that growth.

[44:28] Shahin Hoda  Growth mindset, growth mindset. Love it. OK, question two If you could only give one advice, could be to be marketers, what would it be?

[44:36] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's about team, it's about collaboration. You can't do anything on your own. And for that is about teaming with your salespeople, your account team, all the people there, but it's also about teaming with the rest of your colleagues in the marketing organisation. You can't do anything great on your own. You've got to you've got to do it together.

[45:01] Shahin Hoda  A lot of people, love it. Question three Who are some of the influencers in the space that you follow or you talked to or you know, you kind of see what they're talking about?

[45:12] Andrew Fitzgerald  I've been lucky enough to get to know that just a little bit. I'm not sure she likes the term, but the godmother of ABM and I've done I've I've sent this to her on calls as well. But where I sit in my home office, I literally have Bev’s book beside me all the time as well.

[45:36] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's kind of an essential reference guide for me. So Bev would be one. But then there are there are lots of others. As I said, I really I get lots of value personally from trying to engage with what's now a very big and very active community of people interested in ABM. People like Andrea Clap Worthy, who works for Fujitsu and used to until recently run their global ABM program.

[46:02] Andrew Fitzgerald  I mentioned Gemma Davis already, but there's there's a whole host of other people in the momentum autism community in the B2B marketing community right out of the UK. In the US these days, the more the merrier because one of the things I find is talking to any and all of those people, I always learn stuff well sometimes, you know, it's validation of what we're already doing. Sometimes it's great ideas that you can take into your own organisation. So loads of them. Loads of them.

 [46:38] Shahin Hoda  Fantastic. Last question. Last question. I have is what is something that excites you about B2B today?

[46:44] Andrew Fitzgerald  I was going to I was going to say I but again, everybody's talking about AI and the possibilities that AI and how to use it. So I'm not I'll come back to what I think in hindsight, looking back now is probably the theme of my thing. It's about the it's about the people. As I look in our organisation called, we've got an absolutely amazing team of field marketers and ABMers making it happen.

[47:13] Andrew Fitzgerald  As I look at, you know, outside of our organisation, the great work that's being done by loads of great individuals now is amazing. So it's, it's seeing what the people are going to do. I think that excites me the most. You know, it sounds a little bit trite, but genuinely that's what it is.

[47:32] Shahin Hoda  No, I completely understand. It's exciting to work with smart and capable people, no doubt about it. Andrew this is an amazing conversation. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and giving us your time.

[47:46] Andrew Fitzgerald  It's my pleasure. Great to talk to you.

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xGrowth brings a very structured approach to ABM. It’s been amazing working with you.

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When I think ABM, I think xGrowth. xGrowth were 100% committed, the whole team was just like our business partner. I would say you are not a business vendor; you are our business partner.
reena misra
Reena Misra
ANZ Marketing Leader