7 Experts Weigh In On What You Should Look For When Hiring ABMers

Investing in your ABM team is an exciting initiative. You’re on the hunt for experienced marketers with a passion for growth and a penchant for problem-solving.

Account-based marketing is a team effort – it won’t work unless you have the right people in the right places working together to achieve ABM success.

Finding top talent for a growing ABM team might feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. You want the absolute best candidates – but they’re not always easy to find!

So how do other account-based B2B organizations assemble a rockstar team? We decided to ask them. Check out the below responses from a few Terminus customers and partners to learn their recommendations for building or scaling an ABM team. We also included an excerpt from our recent list of ABM hiring tips from our very own Director of Demand Gen, Torrey Dye.

Hermi Ruiz, Account-Based Marketing Manager at Snowflake

If you’re looking to hire or scale out your ABM team, look internally at your business development team first! Few people know your ideal customer or are aligned to your revenue team better than your biz dev team. You want someone who can blend marketing and sales, becoming part of the revenue team while still being a marketer at heart.

Justin Keller, VP of Marketing at Sigstr

There are three main things I look for in ABM hires:

  • They should be comfortable with revenue mechanics
    • Make sure whoever you hire is comfortable with revenue mechanics. Driving a strong ABM program is going to require a firm understanding of your company’s revenue cycle and the ability to get in the weeds of it. The more responsible for revenue a marketer is, the better that marketer will be.
  • They’re able to interact with others, especially your sales team
    • The person you hire is going to be an important link between your sales and marketing team, communicating the details of one department to the members of another. For that reason, whoever you hire needs to be emotionally intelligent and have great interpersonal skills.
  • They must be impeccably organized
    • The operations and data aspects of account-based anything are convoluted and confusing. Being able to develop processes and data frameworks to keep granular details consistent across dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of accounts is crucial to moving the ball forward with any of your ABM programs.

Eric Martin, Sr. Director of Demand Generation at Salesloft

When evaluating ABM candidates, the most important question I ask is this: “If I were to give you X dollars, how would you build a business case for the campaign you’re looking to execute?” Depending on their response, I might also ask these follow-up questions:

  • How would you sell your plan to internal stakeholders?
  • How would you collaborate with sales to execute it?
  • How would you measure success?

Executing a successful ABM campaign is not just about making it happen. It’s also about aligning resources proportionately with the value or tier of the account you’re trying to work, measuring the response, and optimizing accordingly to generate a strong ROI.

Steve Watt, Fractional Marketing Leader and ABM Consultant

When hiring an ABM leader, the best candidates will show genuine and passionate intellectual curiosity.

ABM is evolving very quickly, and there is a LOT of great content coming out from thought leaders, technology providers, practitioners, and more. If the candidate doesn’t exhibit a genuine lust to learn, and doesn’t excitedly and authentically share tales of what they’ve learned and who they learned it from, this is a giant red flag for me.

I try not to explicitly ask where candidates go to learn – anyone can cite a few credible sources. Rather, I ask casual questions like, “Why do you think ABM has become such a hot topic?”, which (with the right candidate) should open the floodgates for self-starters and keen learners.

Shellie Smith, Director of ABM at Autodesk

When we launched Autodesk’s ABM program two years ago, I was tasked with hiring approximately 15 marketers. I was fortunate to be able to fill about half of those positions internally, but I then had to work quickly to hire the rest in a very short period of time. Here are some qualities I looked for then, and continue to look for now as we expand our ABM practice:

  • Empathy for the sales process – not just an understanding
    • A great ABMer is an effective collaborator who will be able to sit in on account planning calls, ask important questions, propose new solutions, and react quickly when campaigns aren’t driving results.
  • An inherent sense of accountability towards driving revenue
    • Some marketers don’t always think of themselves as revenue drivers. Those marketers are not the marketers you want. Great ABMers see themselves as an extension of the sales process; they know how to use their arsenal of digital tools to drive pipeline and close deals. When results aren’t met, they take personal responsibility and partner with sales to make course corrections.
  • Understands and excels at digital marketing (and the metrics that power digital marketing)
    • Good marketers don’t care about vanity metrics. When they discuss results, they discuss results that matter: pipeline created, accelerated, and closed; engagement; influenced accounts, etc. If you interview a prospective ABMer who only discusses leads, clicks, or impressions, they probably aren’t a great fit.
  • A willingness to experiment
    • Great ABM candidates don’t want to be placed in a box with restrictions on what they can and can’t do. Give them room to try different things and see what works at your company and with your customers. If you can offer them that flexibility, it’s a huge selling point for your organization.
  • And a few extra notes…
    • If you can find an ABMer with sales experience, that’s a huge advantage – but not necessarily a dealbreaker. I’ve also hired marketers with startup experience who worked directly with their CRO to spend marketing dollars more efficiently (and drive more dollars as a result).
    • A great ABMer likes the customers they market to and wants to see those customers succeed!

Kate Adams, VP of Demand Gen at Drift

My three biggest tips for hiring an account-based marketer are:

  •  Look for a data-driven marketer who understands funnels
    • This person needs to have a complete understanding of the account and lead criteria they need to generate in order to feed that funnel and work their accounts through each stage.
  • Define your company’s flavor of ABM
    • There are many different flavors of ABM. Define what your flavor looks like in close alignment with your sales team so you can understand the skillset you’re looking to hire. For example, how many target accounts are you looking to engage on a monthly basis, what types of companies are you looking to engage with, and who are the target personas you’re looking to engage in these accounts?
  • Look for a great communicator
    • The key to ABM is the synchronous processes between sales and marketing. Sales and marketing must be completely aligned on what campaigns are going live, what’s expected from both teams and what is the targeted outcome each campaign is trying to achieve. Someone who can communicate confidently and regularly across teams is imperative.

Torrey Dye, Director of Demand Gen at Terminus

My recommendation when building out your ABM team is to hire a blend of generalists and specialists. High-performing ABM teams have a diversity of skill sets. While having a “Jack or Jill of All Trades” is an invaluable asset, there’s no way that they’ll have a working knowledge of every single platform, strategy, or approach to B2B marketing. Successful generalists are multi-functional and often self-sufficient, a powerful combination for lean ABM teams. But as you mature, you may find you also need specialists who can step in to add more context to certain marketing strategies and provide a huge amount of value to a team.

To reference agile methodology, there are two types of specialists: people with I-shaped skills and T-shaped skills. People with I-shaped skills are experts in one domain (like SEO) but don’t have a breadth of knowledge outside of that domain.

Instead, you should look for people with “T-shaped skills”: deep specialized skills in one area (like, for instance, SFDC administration) in addition to broad, but not necessarily deep, skills in other similar areas (marketing automation platforms and other CRMs). A marketer with T-shaped skills will be able to fully own one area of your ABM programs while still having the relevant experience necessary to step in and help their teammates when needed.

The Terminus team recently created a full list of best practices for building or scaling an ABM team – you can check them out here.