The Latest from the Go-to-Market Experts
June 8, 2018
ABM: To Adopt or Not Adopt, That Is the Question
Account-based marketing (ABM) has become a trendy term adopted by nearly every software solution out there promising to help you engage with your prospects like never before. With the ABM conversation primarily being driven by technology solutions rather than strategists, it’s no wonder why marketers are more confused than ever.
SiriusDecisions offers frameworks on the account-based marketing workflow through their Demand Unit Waterfall™. This framework provides marketers with a funnel that resembles the traditional inbound structure and focuses on engaging prospects rather than qualifying a multitude of leads. Even with a framework in place, they couldn’t resist presenting a tech stack slide at the end of nearly every ABM presentation during the 2018 SiriusDecisions Summit. Doing a quick “back of the envelope” calculation, many of the ABM tech stack solutions presented started at $100,000 per year.
While enterprise organizations may have the budget to support an immediate technology need, those in the startup or even mid-market space may struggle to determine which software they need to get started with ABM. If you have a limited budget or are unsure if an account-based strategy is truly the right fit for your organization, there are few considerations to examine before you jump head first into signing yearlong technology contracts.
Who is Your Buyer?
ABM is best suited for well-defined, B2B target audiences. If your company is focused on direct to consumer sales, then ABM is the wrong strategy for you. You should have a strong understanding of who the buyer or buyers are within your target organizations.
Examine your product or service type. The more well-defined your target audiences are, the more you should shift from an inbound to an ABM strategy. Is your company’s product in a vertical market, meaning, you sell into one industry that has the same needs to solve? If so, an ABM approach is likely your best bet.
Let’s say you’re a cybersecurity software exclusively for healthcare systems with a total addressable market of 1,000 companies. You should absolutely have an account-based strategy.
A horizontal solution targets a function within organizations that span multiple industries. For example, if you sell accounting software to mid-size companies in the technology, healthcare, finance and retail industries, you may benefit from an inbound and ABM strategy.
Another example to consider are multiple product lines. If you have the opportunity to sell multiple product lines into a single organization, driving increased revenue per account, then you would definitely want to think about an ABM strategy.
In general, I believe ABM is best suited for enterprise or mid-market organizations. Successful account-based marketing involves the personalization of content, so you may want to limit the number of accounts in a specific program due to the high level of effort required by the marketing team.
You’ll need strong ROI from the ABM program, which means a higher average deal size on single acquisition or expansion opportunities.
Those targeting the SMB space will need technology solutions to help them scale an ABM strategy, so it’s important to run a pilot program first to see if the ABM strategy yields a higher level of ROI than your inbound strategy.
Although termed account-based marketing, the ABM strategy is more than just marketing. It requires a restructuring of the way both marketing and sales address leads. For an organization that is accustomed to working with MQLs, a mind shift in the way sales engages with the prospects needs to occur. Every target buyer is already a marketing qualified lead.
Test before geeking out. There are a lot of technologies to help you reach your target accounts, but for marketers that don’t have massive budgets, test your ABM strategy with a few accounts first. Although it may take more effort initially, a cautious approach to discovering if an ABM strategy is right for you is to run a pilot program first. ABM can be done manually with personalized emails, landing pages, content, and even advertising. It may be more of an effort initially, but you’ll know in a few months whether or not it’s working. Depending on your buying cycle it may take several quarters to attribute revenue to the ABM program, but you can set initial measurements like engagement scores and pipeline as your program KPIs.
By taking a conservative approach to implementing account-based marketing, you’ll be able to determine if ABM is the right strategy for you. If you achieve strong results, you’ll be better poised to not only make a case for an increased technology budget, but you’ll also have a better understanding of what technologies you actually need.