Scott Gillum and Eric Gruber Talk About Challenger Marketing, Personality-Based Marketing and ABM

Prior to founding Carbon Design, Scott Gillum had a B2B marketing agency and the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) was his client and his firm was their digital agency of record. He worked closely with Pat Spenner, Matt Dixon, and Brent Adamson when they were working on their Challenger Customer book – the follow-up to the Challenger Sale. Pat Spenner and Scott also worked together on Challenger Marketing that few people know about.

Just like Personal ABM, Scott’s firm is applying Challenger with ABM. He’s also applying personality-based marketing. This is why we asked Scott to join Personal ABM CEO Eric Gruber on the podcast below:

Here Are the Key Ideas From This Challenger, Personality-Based Marketing and ABM Podcast:


1. Just like Personal ABM, Scott Gillum uses Challenger with ABM at the front end to create account-based commercial insights that leads to differentiated messaging based on the opportunity within each account. He uses it to understand target audiences and identify where their buying sets are and the gaps in their knowledge level. We need to find what’s missing in how they think about the marketplace, what’s undervalued and what’s missing from their current approach. From there, it’s how can we shape a mindset and show them how their specific thoughts are antiquated 20 year old thinking so teams are leading to a solution based on the opportunity within an account vs. leading with a solution.

2. Scott uses Challenger on the backend of ABM programs by matching personalities with the attributes of a mobilizer to see which ones are most likely to start the buying process, which ones are most likely to advance the process, which ones are most likely to drive and advance a deal and which ones are most likely to be blockers. When you understand their personalities, you can then understand their motivations, beliefs, and preferences all the way down to their preferred marketing assets and how they like to learn, shop and buy solutions.

3. ABM and Challenger sales and marketing go hand-in-hand because it’s about tailoring for relevance across all levels – the industry, company, rank, department, persona, individual and even the customer levels. Too many ABM programs stop at the industry level. It’s why Demandbase customers like Uniphore struggled with accounts going dark. Click here to read the case study.

4. ABM is not really about accounts – it’s about the human buyers in the accounts we want to win, protect and expand. So we have to understand the strategic priorities of key accounts (vs. pain points), gaps and the impacts on the strategic initiative, the impacts to the company and different departments and to the buyers. It’s about what the buyer’s are thinking and how we need to reframe their specific thoughts and ideas. Titles and roles do not buy. People do. So we have to go beyond industry and persona messaging.

5. Besides tailoring for relevance, Challenger is about teaching for differentiation. But many companies do not have a POV about their own business so they are not able to come to each interaction and each touch point with a point of view about the prospect’s business. We discuss this in the podcast below

6. Once you have your POV and a point of view on your prospects’ businesses – then we need to have an account-based value proposition that is specific to the account’s business problem, their specific gaps, and the impact that only you can have on their organization. So it’s why you and the value you can deliver to specific accounts. It’s not enough to say this is our ICP, these are select accounts and this is the needs for the industry. We have to understand what’s happening in the business – and understand their specific business case and the impact. It starts with the opportunity within each account as you have to sell the problem not just the solution.

7. You have to understand the personalities of the people you’re engaging with. Influencers are great at consuming information, but they struggle with owning a problem. They’re learners. They may start a buying process, but they will not drive it. Then you have the dominant personality who will be your champions as they are driving a strategic initiative which you can play a strong role in if you show them the impact you can have – and it connects to them. If you’re selling to a dominant, you must be within their window – and show them the role you can play in what they are already working on. The steady is the person who likes to be liked. They’ll talk to salespeople and consume time and content, but they are using it for their own purposes. They’ll never catch a pass, they’ll never make a call, they’ll never throw the ball. They only move when the team moves. Then you have the skeptic who’s very conscientious. They are subject matter expert. Salespeople shoot their foot with the skeptic as they do not have the research and data that’s needed to build credibility.

8. It’s not only important to understand the different personalities that make up the buying group but also how they interact with each other within your target organization.


Here Are Additional ABM + Challenger Podcasts:

Here’s an Additional ABM + Personality Based Marketing Resource


Book a Free ABM Strategy Session and Get Even More ABM Insights…

Whether you are looking to start a new ABM journey or need help with your existing ABM program, let’s talk so you can become part of the 33% of programs that outperform in delivering business outcomes.

During our call we’ll discuss we’ll discuss…

  • 9Your business goals.
  • 9Your revenue challenges.
  • 9Your ABM readiness – and the steps you need to take.
  • 9Our personal account-based approach that drives stage progression, improving win rates and increasing deal sizes for clients.
  • 9How you can accelerate existing ABM programs and scale it in a way that drive business outcomes versus just pipeline growth.