CRM for forward thinking universities: an ABM approach

Crimson, an IT solutions consultancy and Microsoft business tools partner, had identified that their core proposition was gaining strong traction in specific vertical markets. Their Head of Marketing quickly centred his strategy around these key verticals, and asked Modern to design and deliver a strategic ABM programme.

The chosen vertical was higher education – a rapidly changing sector heavily reliant on student attraction and retention to maintain their fee income. It was important to identify a sub-set of universities to target for this programme, which Modern did through workshops with the client and buyer profiling.

The main outcomes were closed wins valued £1M+ and a repeatable business case model that can be used by Crimson’s team as part of their sales process.


The core objective was to generate 2-3 new higher education customers within 9 months as a direct result of our campaign. We were also asked to define and share repeatable best practice processes for the identification, nurture and conversion of suitable targets with Crimson’s business development and marketing teams.


This new strategy had significant considerations:

1. Not everyone wants a new CRM system

We actively sought institutions that we believed didn’t currently use Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and had CIOs that were game changing innovators. By seeking self-proclaimed transformation specialists, we could ensure a receptive response to the idea of a CRM ‘rip and replace’.

 2. Personalised messaging

Every communication needed to be highly personalised for relevance. Extensive research into each university’s priorities and future direction were referenced in the campaign on an individual level. 

 3. Multi-channel follow-up

The programme used multiple touch points and a consistent and persistent follow-up using telesales, email, InMail and digital advertising.


The initial programme generated 11 meetings across the target accounts, a 30:1 ROI and Modern were re-engaged to tackle a second vertical through ABM.

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Modern’s Higher Education ABM Programme delivered against all agreed KPIs and successfully enabled us to close a significant piece of business. Success within this vertical was important to our ongoing growth strategy and the insights, collateral and campaign engagement that Modern contributed have helped us convert several key players in the industry to date. We have also since conducted another ABM campaign with Modern based on the performance and strong working relationship established during the Higher Education ABM Programme.

– Mark Britton, Head of Marketing, Crimson

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