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Terminus Blog

October 26, 2021

A Guide to ABM: 10 Lessons to Live By

Category: FlipMyFunnel Post

Whether you’re a new company or an established one, today’s speaker has a question for you: Are you using ABM yet? 

Adopting ABM is one of the fastest ways to drive a business forward. However, there are some easy missteps if you’re not informed. 

Dan Englebretson, Founder and Head of Client Services at Khronos, discusses his top 10 lessons when adopting ABM to get the most out of it. 

”ABM applies everywhere.” — Dan Englebretson

Adopting ABM

You’ve decided ABM is right for your company; or you’ve struggled with ABM and wonder if you’re getting the most out of your investment. No matter where you’re at in the ABM journey, Dan looks to give advice on how to improve any step of the process with two main goals:

  • To give practical steps that anyone can incorporate into their ABM strategy.  
  • Apply to the full spectrum of companies: Whether you’re five days in or five years in.

Lesson 1: The difference between ABM & demand generation 

While demand generation and ABM are often equated, it’s hardly the case — demand gen focuses on quantity and ABM focuses on quality. 

Imagine a room full of 100 potential customers. The reality of the situation is that out of those 100 potentials, an average of only two potentials will be ready to buy from you. So, instead of focusing all of your attention on the 100, as typical demand gen does, you put all of your time and resources into the 2. 

Because of this shift, it can come across as a shock to see data that only pulls 2 customers compared to the original 100. Set expectations early to avoid any pushback.

”If you’re sending the wrong expectations out the gate, people are going to wonder three months later, ‘Where are my results and metrics?’ They just don’t connect.” — Dan Englebretson

Lesson 2: Building momentum 

According to the Boston Consulting Group, 53% of ABM firms fail in the first year. There are two big reasons this happens: 

  1. Too broad: When there’s too much change, it can kill progress. Take on only as much as you can handle.
  2. Not starting at all: Many groups will put off an ABM launch because they want it to be perfect. Build a base, get it going, and then improve as you go. 

Lesson 3: The war of attrition

When you look at a group of 1,000 accounts, don’t disservice yourself by finding out down the line that 300 of them aren’t a good fit. By recognizing gaps, you can walk away with the insight to focus your attention on the 700 accounts, rather than be blindsided by a 30% reduction. 

Lesson 4: Understanding the next best action

When it comes down to it, all of the ads you’re running and the emails you’re sending are helping figure out data on who to sell to next. To do this, you have to build a simplified scoring model. 

  • Know who’s clicking your ads or visiting your website.
  • Who’s downloading specifics from the website?
  • What happens after you hand over an account to sales?

Lesson 5: Don’t take data shortcuts

Everyone thinks data is going to be easy. It’s not something that will be straightforward. In a lot of cases, you’ll have bad data that gets in the way. Because of this, you have to take additional steps than just buying data or trusting a robot to solve all of your data problems. 

”It is going to drive a ton of waste in your process to have bad data.” — Dan Englebretson

Lesson 6: Resist overcomplication

It can be tempting to take on as much as your budget allows when it comes to ABM. However, what you need to remember is that no matter how smart your team is, there is a lot of change to internalize. 

Set goals and introduce small complexities to ease your team into the process rather than all at once. Or, otherwise risk wasted time having to go back and fix issues that only arise from misunderstanding.

Lesson 7: Don’t equate ABM to technology

One of the biggest problems that can come from equating ABM to technology is how quickly you get started. Rather than trying to figure out your ABM budget, ask the three questions: Who should I be targeting, why should I be targeting them, and what problems am I solving?

If you’re asking these three questions, you’ve already started your ABM journey. 

Lesson 8: Always keep learning

ABM is a learning process that never stops. With any strategy that you’re trying to implement, there’s a good possibility that someone else has already done it and figured out all the missteps along the way. 

Researching before getting started can give you valuable shortcuts that will save you time. 

Lesson 9: Don’t compete with yourself

There’s a good chance you’re using your resources against yourself when trying to implement ABM into your team. For example, if you’ve just hired an ABM marketer, make sure your demand gen marketer is aiding them rather than withholding help. 

Lesson 10: Scale with automation

This is less to do with automating a customer’s name at the top of an email and more to do with automating tasks and collecting data. Take as much off of your plate as possible so that you can focus on more important responsibilities. 

If you’re not doing this as early as possible, you’ll run out of resources down the road when you inevitably scale the business. 

This post is based on an episode of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Flip My Funnel in your favorite podcast player.

Written by Sangram Vajre

Sangram Vajre is the co-founder and chief evangelist of Terminus, the leader of the account-based marketing (ABM) movement transforming B2B marketing. Before co-founding Terminus, Sangram led the marketing team at Pardot through its acquisition by ExactTarget and then to Salesforce. Sangram is the author of Account-Based Marketing for Dummies and is the mastermind behind #FlipMyFunnel. Follow Sangram on Twitter at @sangramvajre.

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