7 Things You Need to Know about Account-Based Marketing


One of the biggest challenges B2B marketers face is generating and delivering enough qualified leads to sales. We can qualify and score and nurture leads until we’re blue in the face, and sales will always ask for more, better, or more relevant leads. But what if the lead generation method we’ve been ingrained to use isn’t the solution, but the problem? Yesterday I attended a great webinar, Confessions of Former Lead Marketers about the Move to Account-Based Marketing. It featured Jon Miller, CEO/cofounder of Engagio, Sangram Vajre, CMO/cofounder of Terminus, and Adam New-Waterson, CMO of LeanData, and discussed these former lead marketers’ jump to the new and relatively uncharted waters of account-based marketing. While these three are huge proponents for this new hyper-personalized marketing strategy of doing more with less, they also shared challenges they’ve experienced with ABM and divulged that it may not be for every marketing organization.

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Below are 7 things you should know about ABM before converting your own marketing strategy.

If regular lead generation is fishing with nets, ABM is fishing with a spear. With traditional inbound lead generation, it doesn’t matter what kind of fish you’re catching, because you can sift out the good ones from the pile. With account-based marketing on the other hand, it’s more of an outbound approach. You are actively seeking out and targeting the “right” fish; you don’t wait around for the right ones to come to you.

In ABM, your targeting mechanism is an account, not a list of individuals. A small group of marketers and salespeople work very closely together in ABM on a single account with multiple contacts and stakeholders. This varies from lead marketing’s typical list-based targeting mechanism, where large lists of leads from a wide variety of companies are targeted and segmented.

Accounts are not passed from marketing to sales. This may seem self-evident from the previous point, but unlike traditional lead marketing there is no passing of leads from marketing to sales in ABM. Sales and marketing identify and agree upon their target accounts for a set period of time (typically longer than your normal sales cycle), so there is no qualification process for the leads that marketing generates and hands over to sales. The group of sales and marketers focus on this single account or small group of accounts until a deal is closed or lost.

Engagement needs to be genuine. The whole point of ABM is to eliminate “batch and blast” email marketing, where leads are segmented based on certain characteristics and are entered into relevant, but somewhat generic, email campaigns. The role of the buyer has changed, and each expects a more relevant and personalized buying experience. Buyers can see through these generic campaigns, so engagement needs to be individualized, even if there are multiple buyers or stakeholders involved in each account.

ABM works best with smaller target markets. Some companies have large target markets or multiple markets that make it easy to resonate with people and commit to inbound lead generation. But when a target market is very small, specific and concise, it can be harder to work with a huge pool of leads to find the right people at the right accounts. Once you’ve identified the comparative size of your target markets, you will have a better idea of whether ABM is the ideal strategy for your marketing team.

Sales and marketing alignment is crucial for ABM to work. When you have sales and marketing individuals working so closely together, it’s imperative that the two teams are closely aligned. This includes communication channels, metrics and overall goals; Adam stated that his sales and marketing teams hold weekly meetings, have consistently open communication channels, and even sit close to each other in order to optimize productivity. It’s important to keep marketing and sales goals as closely-intertwined as possible so each is benefiting from the success of the other when an account is closed.

ABM is a marathon, not a sprint. Account-based marketing requires a concerted effort and buy-in from an entire company, not just sales and marketing. It involves sales and marketing sitting down to identify the right accounts, collecting data surrounding those accounts and individuals, and constant communication between sales and marketing to ensure there are no overlaps or gaps in account interaction. Marketing can have some trouble “letting go of the nets” and changing its ways completely, but if your team has the right makeup for ABM and sticks with it, you may see the same or increased revenue as you would with lead marketing.