How Ascension Logistics Used ABM to Drive Margin Growth and Greater Profitability with Accounts Like Sephora

Only in rare instances, sales, marketing, and customer success teams work together with shared common goals and metrics and execute jointly to win, protect and expand specific accounts. They’re not taking a portfolio approach (as discussed in the podcast below) that ensures maximum revenue and profitability growth with the accounts that can matter the most to your bottom line.

This provides a great growth opportunity for the teams to work together to not only identify the best margin and revenue growth opportunities but also help named customers “see” how you help them solve business problems in a way that increases their loyalty. In many cases, this can mean changing how your existing accounts “perceive” your solutions and their buying behavior.

Ascension Logistics (a BlueYonder Partner) Had a Limited ACV After Implementing Their Clients’ TMS & WMS Solutions

When Ascension Logistics, a BlueYonder transportation management and warehouse management system partner with Fortune 500 clients like P&G, PepsiCo, GE and Target, started with Personal ABM, we first looked across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle to see where revenue leaks occurred. For example, when we came to looking at existing customers, we searched for:

We Noticed That Ascension Was Seeing Diminishing Returns After Implementation Completion.

Clients like Sephora would trade dollars for hours to fix on-demand challenges that may arise even though Sephora’s warehouse and DC were not scaled to meet the needs of a fast-moving operation or the needs of their 2300 global stores and their e-commerce customers. The manufacturer’s tech did not enable the warehouse to prioritize replenishment, which led to delayed orders, waves, and carrier moves. They weren’t engaging in planned distribution where the warehouse knows how products will ship to stores even before it arrives at the warehouse. While they implemented automation for expected volumes, the company lacked fulfillment automation for surge demands caused by new, hot lipstick colors or holiday demand.

Driving this, most tech implementation consultants functioned like the manufacturers’ line workers: reacting, not proactively strategizing. Our client kept receiving a shortlist of 30 pain points needing coverage within six weeks to go-to-market causing our client to build for “wants”. Because our client was not having the right customer discussions, Sephora would treat our client as technicians and pay for man hours vs. strategic value that has higher profit margins and revenue growth. And Sephora would try to penny-pinch and negotiate the number of hours and resources that would be needed for different projects.

Leadership, Sales and Account Management Teams Were Having the Wrong Conversations and Interactions

There was no conversation involving our client in the go-to-market planning of new products or lines. They didn’t have the content, stories, and messaging to show how building for 30 software points, only seeing 5–8% of the entire picture is leading to missed details and requirements as there’s no visibility into pipelines, growth plans, customer-driven needs, and current/future operational bottlenecks. They couldn’t show the impact and how it delayed retail/e-commerce presence, wasted marketing dollars, increased days in inventory, slowed cash conversion cycles, missed customer shipments, and created out-of-stock conditions. They couldn’t show Sephora how the current reactive IT approach was allowing Ulta to beat them in customer loyalty and for Amazon to make inroads with the high-end beauty market as GTM time for new products and shades was increased by six months.

Ultimately, they didn’t have messaging, content, and support for the “why evolve” conversation that needs to happen to change buying behaviors and expand profit margin and revenue growth.

To win the “why evolve” conversation, Ascension Logistics needed to:

  • Document results so Sephora can acknowledge the impact that our client had on their business for 5+ years
  • Highlight evolving supply chain pressures as well as competitive pressures from companies like Ulta and Amazon. They needed to describe shifting internal and external pressures as a logical progression or evolution not a surprise or disruption.
  • Share the hard truths on Sephora’s supply chain gaps and impacts on operations, customers, sales and the P&L. They needed content and messaging to highlight the missed opportunities both internally and externally from Ascension’s vantage point as a trusted partner and not just another technical vendor.
  • Emphasize the potentially harmful risks and repercussions of not changing their approach to supply chain technology and de-risk moving forward in a new way.
  • Get personal and show Sephora the specific upside opportunity that’s available to them and not generic benefits. They needed to transfer ownership of the solution and all of the internal/ external positive impacts Sephora can expect from making the change.

Ascension Needed Content for Specific Account Management Conversations and Sephora’s Internal Conversations

Before, working with Personal ABM content was designed to only support “acquisition” campaigns vs. the “customer success conversations” and “interactions” that account management teams need to drive revenue growth with existing accounts. Account management teams were left to their own devices to reframe thoughts and ideas, demonstrate relevance, make an emotional connection and build the business case as described above. By having content that supports the “why evolve” conversation not only was Ascension having the right interactions – they were able to influence the internal conversations that happened behind closed doors and build a consensus for change.

Ascension Needed Customer-Led Messaging and Conversation Support

Value props needed to designed for Sephora’s specific needs and to the company’s unique opportunity Messaging needed to speak to and with the human buyers as each interaction will be treated as a mini sales and marketing conversation. This is the only way that Ascension would build the connection they need with the status quo C-suite and VPs that continued to treat Ascension as a technical vendor vs. a strategic supply chain partner.  Templated messaging would not support Sephora’s “why evolve” conversation.

Sales, account management and leadership teams needed to be equipped with the right messaging and stories to overcome customer resistance to changing their current approach and how they are using Ascension.

The Impact that Account-Based Enablement Had on the P&L for Ascension Logistics

Once leadership, sales and account management teams were able to shift the customer conversation with profiles, content, and messaging that was designed specifically for the why change and why evolve conversation, they were able to change Sephora’s perception of the firm from “technicians” to “strategic partner”. Our client joined leadership in the planning stages. They added value with processes that will show how changes would impact the warehouse, distribution, and transportation under different scenarios and allow the beauty retailer to adapt and align at scale with new system changes without disruption to stores or customers. With this added value came more profitable revenue growth that was stronger than trading dollars for hours.

Sephora was not the only client that Ascension Logistics was able to change their buying behavior – and evolve how they were using them. They also now had the right stories and messaging to build a vision with new clients on how they would partner with Ascension once the implementation was completed. They were able to prove early on how they can be a strategic partner and the continuing value they can provide on an ongoing basis.

Click here to learn more about our account-based enablement services and how Personal ABM can drive more profitable growth from your top existing accounts.

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