Account Based Marketing (ABM) – a new shiny toy no more

Interest in Account Based Marketing (ABM) has increased rapidly in just a few recent years, with companies gaining understanding of the discipline and some recruiting dedicated ABM resources. My view is that it will be another while until ABM becomes mainstream – going from the newest shiny toy to truly realising ABM’s potential.

Definition – what is ABM?

ABM can deliver substantial ROI for companies that engage in B2B complex sales, with high value deal size, where sales cycle is longer than 3 months.

ABM focuses on targeting a small number of high-value accounts that are closely resembling an “ideal customer” profile, converting them into a customer and further nurturing them to maximise retention. Typically, ABM would focus on creating personalised value proposition to each chosen account, based on their strategic goals (One-to-One method), or a custom value proposition for small clusters of accounts with similar attributes or challenges (One-to-Few). *

Sounds simple enough – but where to start?

Sales and Marketing unite!

It is impossible to set ABM strategy, goals and budgets without first understanding and agreeing with the Sales organisation on how high-value accounts should contribute to overall revenue goals.

The best way to start is by setting KPIs that unite Sales and Marketing around a common goal (for example: Revenue, Key stakeholder engagement). This makes it easier to track attribution and to put the long term customer relationship at the centre of all ABM efforts.

Mind the skills gap

The biggest misconception about ABM is that it can be performed by the existing marketing teams at a drop of a hat without making an investment into acquiring specialized skills first.

ABM is not just another “add-on” to demand generation. It is time and resource intensive discipline. ABM aims to significantly increase revenue in large complex accounts. To be able to do so, marketers must understand sales objectives, processes, cycles, and resources involved in developing and converting diverse buyers groups in a large account.

ABM marketer performs a “hybrid” Sales-Marketing role – becoming part of the Account team, they gather and analyse business data and information. Essential skills include business acumen, leadership skills, ability to manage cross-organisational collaboration. ABM marketer will help build account relationships and strategies, create tailored value propositions. On top of it, they must be capable of strategic evaluation of what is working, analysing results and changing the course if needed.

Boiling the ocean, one cup at the time…

You have enterprise clients and prospects, solution/product that solve their challenges and contribute to their strategic goal success. You understand your sales cycle, your audience, the personas you need to engage and have content to offer for any stage of your marketing funnel. You have a Martech stack that allows you to deliver content, track engagement, attribution and ROI.

Congratulations. There is nothing holding you back from giving ABM a go. But how?

From my own B2B marketer experience, running an ABM Pilot program helps to build credibility and advance ABM in your organization, as well as up-skill your teams. Start small, learn fast and build from there.

Success factors: According to ITSMA 2017 ABM Benchmark report, 87% of marketers agree that ABM delivers higher ROI than other marketing investments.