Why David Sakamoto (VP of Customer Success) is Pushing for ABM for Customer Success at GitLab

In previous ABM Done Right Podcasts, we discussed with guests like Kristi Faltorusso the Gallup studies that show that 82% of B2B customers are indifferent, disengaged or actively looking to replace a vendor. We talked about many companies still putting a greater emphasis on building a pipeline vs. protecting and expanding key accounts – and how the current state of customer success is an organization-wide issue.

In this podcast below, David Sakamoto (VP of Customer Success at Gitlab) will share his thoughts on the state of customer success but also why he is pushing for ABM for customer success in his organization.

 Here Are the Key Ideas From This ABM Done Right Podcast with David:

  • Customer success is about delivering the appropriate experiences leveraging all aspects of the entire organization to drive value and positive outcomes for the customer but also growth for the organization. Most teams are focused on driving adoption and they are not balancing their programs to drive growth for their own organization so they are not having the “why stay”, “why evolve” and “why expand” conversations and they do not have the content to support these conversations when CFOs and business leadership are taking a double and triple look at their spend.


  • While Gitlabs has an industry- leading DevOps security platform that’s recognized by Gartner and Forrester, they are still quite new and they are selling into status quo organizations that are taking a do-it-yourself DevOps security approach stitching together different point solutions. They need to get to the executive budget holder like a Chief Digital Officer, but they also need to engage with the App team, the security team and others – so their engagement needs to span across the organization across the buyer’s journey and the customer lifecycle. They need to align with the different decision makers, influencers, users and communicate the right value proposition that will be relevant to them. They need to be delivering that value along the journey, but they also need to have the right interactions before and after the close to ensure that the teams understand the value they’ll get – and the next incremental value that Gitlab can bring as they continue to adopt the platform. If they are only using Gitlab for a smaller use case, they will not unlock the 7X improvement in cycle time or significant drops in maintenance costs and the other value props that Gitlabs bring to the table. So it’s important that Gitlabs set the vision upfront, they align to the specific business outcomes that their customers are seeking – and then maintain the engagement after the deal is signed. They understand that it’s the relevant interactions you have and the relevant experiences you deliver that will determine if you are just a vendor or if you are a strategic partner.


  • Modern customer success teams are data driven and they are tightly integrated with product, sales, marketing, RevOps and business leadership to achieve GRR and NRR goals. The marketing piece is where David thinks Gitlab and others have the most opportunity because he sees customer success as an organization wide initiative. He understands that they need to drive customer success across all the interactions within the organization – and they need to have the right interactions across a diverse set of stakeholders within the organization especially when they are used to stitching together different point solutions and do not yet see the full value that Gitlab can provide. They need ABM to continue to overcome the status quo as they still face resistance after the deal is signed which would impact adoption, retention and expansion.


  • The vision for the Gitlab customer success ABM program is to have a set of highly integrated and orchestrated touchpoints along the entire customer journey that are relevant for each stakeholder, the challenges they are looking to overcome, their role in a strategic priority, and the value they are seeking. This is why they are revisiting their journey maps. They are revisiting customer needs and challenges. They are focused on getting account intelligence even after the close so customer success, sales, marketing and product teams can stay relevant. And, they are looking to see how they can collaborate with the greater organization to deliver business outcomes for Gitlab.


Additional ABM for Customer Success Resources:


  • Podcast with Kristi Faltorusso on how teams have an organization-wide GTM Problem that’s leading to churn with key accounts:


  • ABM for customer success case study on how an IT firm drove greater profitable growth:


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