How to Build a Business Case for ABM

Revenue teams have to adapt their marketing strategies in this post-covid world to stay ahead of their competition. Account-based marketing, once a buzzword and strategy for early adopters, is now a common approach to modern B2B marketing. We’re seeing a major shift from spray-and-pray strategies with big marketing budgets to smart, efficient, and targeted revenue generation across the funnel, from net new revenue through customer expansion.

Will we ever see 100% of companies practicing ABM?

That’s sort of a trick question – yes, but we won’t call it “ABM” anymore. As teams continue to adjust to increasingly crowded spaces with tightening budgets, a lot of what we call ABM will simply just become smart, B2B marketing. With that said, we’re still seeing some variation on the trend curve.

For those who have fully adopted ABM, our recent State of ABM report indicates that these organizations will maintain or increase resources to their ABM programs in 2021. However, for those who have just started on their account-based journey or are looking to expand their budget to scale their efforts, getting leadership and the sales team bought in will be a critical step to a successful implementation.

Starting with ABM can be small and gradual, but understand that it ultimately represents an organizational shift. We’re here to help with that.

We’re here as advocates for those executing account-based programs, but we’re also here as a resource for the teams looking to get started. That’s why we put together this resource that can help marketing team members navigate this conversation with their leadership team and/or help VPs or CMOs sell the value of ABM to all revenue teams.

Here are the four main things to understand and/or speak to when pitching or considering a shift to ABM:

  • Why the shift to ABM?
  • Is ABM just a technology? Or a revenue-generating strategy?
  • Why is an omnichannel approach the most effective way to execute ABM?
  • What is the business impact of ABM?

Understand the Shift to ABM (and the Numbers That Show Why It’s Happening)

When was the last time “everyone is doing it!” was a good enough excuse? In order to pitch or understand the need for ABM, we know it’s important to focus less on the “who is doing it” and more on the “why”.

Over the past decade, B2B buyers have enthusiastically embraced the internet to research technologies, find solutions to their key business pains, and evaluate vendors, often before ever visiting a company website or talking with a salesperson. This digital shift has catalyzed technological advances that are helping B2B marketers engage with buyers more effectively through online channels such as display advertising, chatbots, sales engagement tools, and website personalization.

Due to this shift, many companies have turned to account-based marketing to connect with their B2B customers more effectively. This shift is a result of the B2B buying process dramatically changing. Here are a few reasons why:

  • 70% of the buyer’s journey is done before outreach to sales is made. – SiriusDecisions
  • Only 0.75 percent of leads generated become closed revenue. – Forrester
  • 73% of B2B buyers consume between three to seven pieces of content before speaking with a salesperson. – Demand Gen Report

Your buyers are more well-informed than ever. Your marketplace is busier than ever. ABM gives your team an edge by helping to shape the perception of only your most important buyers.

In 2020, COVID and virtual work environments spurred an even bigger rush to ABM. Terminus’ 2019 State of ABM Report found that 23% of respondents had no active ABM program, while 2020’s study reported only 5.8%. That means an overwhelming 94% of today’s revenue teams have an ABM strategy in place or are planning on implementing one.

For many teams, 2020 also accelerated the shift from a top-of-funnel “leads” strategy to a full-funnel revenue strategy. For mature ABM programs, creating new revenue faster and retaining customers are now the central focus for their teams. In terms of performance indicators, these top three were more important than any other goals – by nearly double.

To summarize, we’re seeing a shift in ABM because B2B marketers are finding a better, more efficient, more precise way to drive revenue and it’s only a matter of time before ABM becomes the dominant strategy for today’s leading companies (and, we have reason to believe that it might not even be called “ABM” anymore).

Remember That You’re Pitching A Whole New Strategy (Not Just New Tech)

Ready for some truth? ABM isn’t easy. And when it’s viewed as just another tool or point-solution that can serve as a “set it and forget it” thing or “silver bullet” to all of your revenue goals and challenges, chances are you won’t be successful. Here’s how we like to explain it:

ABM should be viewed as a shift in your go-to-market strategy. It requires team alignment, planning, strategy, and internal buy-in from all revenue teams.

This takes time and probably some uncomfortable growing pains. But if teams work together and continue to optimize their strategy as they build more audience segments and launch more targeted campaigns, there’s no turning back. “It’s like having a DVR,” as said best by our CEO, Tim Kopp.

Data from Terminus’ 2020 State of ABM Report supports this. As budgets shrunk as a result of COVID-19, budgets dedicated exclusively to ABM programs were resilient, with 80% of mature ABM programs saying their budgets remained the same or increased. Even for companies that had their overall budget reduced, they were still dedicating the same amount of dollars (or more) to their ABM programs.

As the economy became more turbulent and marketing budgets shrank, high-performing companies invested MORE in their ABM programs because they’re leaner and have more predictable revenue results versus legacy demand generation programs.

Emphasize That ABM Requires the Right Tech Stack for Omnichannel Engagement

To bring it full circle for those who do want to focus on the technology, ABM requires more than just one channel, point solution, or data source. Orchestration of multiple points of engagement, tactics, and actionable data is key. That’s why Terminus offers the most channels and data sources than any other ABM platform on the market, all in one platform.

Along with a framework and strategy, ABM technology should enable the key requirements and coordination needed to deliver highly personalized and integrated pre- and post-sales customer experiences. It should help operationalize and scale cross-functional integration of teams and the ancillary technologies necessary to shift the paradigm from just generating leads to orchestrating full-funnel opportunities in the complex ecosystem of larger accounts. Put simply: it’s time for all customer-facing teams to put their most important customers on a pedestal and create immersive, thoughtful experiences for them.

To drive better customer outcomes, ABM should be both marketing and sales driven, enabled with technology and data, with content personalization by segments and key personas throughout the funnel. If that sounds a bit daunting, don’t stress. Evaluate your options and know you just need to start somewhere. And if you need a good starting point on what types of technology, channels, and data sources to consider, check out this handy infographic.

The rate of advancement in marketing is so fast it’ll make your head spin– and it’s showing no signs of slowing. It might sound daunting, but our team has helped thousands just like you climb up the learning curve.

Look at the Business Impact of ABM

Traditionally, your decision-making team has likely viewed marketing’s role in B2B as executing broad-based campaigns, whose success is measured by click-through and open rates, and, ultimately, leads generated for sales. Sales has owned account strategy and engagement, pipeline development, and revenue growth, while the customer success team has focused on after- sales support and issue response to maximize customer satisfaction and retention.

Now we’re seeing all revenue teams own all or some part of a revenue number. A clear focus on revenue also means a focus on the full-funnel:

  • Growing brand awareness efficiently by focusing on best-fit future customers.
  • Creating opportunities with accounts based on engagement data.
  • Accelerating those opportunities to closed/won deals.
  • Retaining and growing current customer accounts.

Brutal Truth: If ‘leads’ are still the most important metric for your marketing team, you’re already way behind.

This translates to core revenue metrics like demos/meetings booked, pipeline generated, and ultimately new revenue generated. Along with that, teams today are also trying to increase deal size (LTV/ACV). At its core, ABM is all about unifying revenue teams around smart, targeted, and efficient marketing that can be used to accelerate open opportunities, acquire new customers, and expand relationships with existing customers. Companies that have implemented ABM have achieved faster pipeline growth, higher close rates, larger average deal sizes, and greater customer retention.

ROI Metrics from Terminus Customers:

  • “Companies leveraging Terminus see a 313% ROI, 60% increase in opportunities set by their sales development team, 40% reduction in customer acquisition cost, and 20% increase in close rate.” – Forrester Consulting
  • “$10 million in sales revenue in a four month period can be attributed to ABM with Terminus.” – Daniel Englebretson, Khronos, Founder & Head of Client Services
  • “40% of our new business pipeline was generated from target ABM accounts. And we saw a 45% increase in average opportunity value.” – Sr. Manager, Marketing Operations, digital.ai
  • “I cut my costs by half and more than doubled my results.” – Head of ABM at a business services provider
  • “ABM shortened our sales cycle by 40%.” – VP of Customer Acquisition, SOASTA
  • “31% of our target accounts progressed to the next stage of our sales funnel in the first month.” – Sr. Manager, Marketing Operations, digital.ai

Key Findings from Industry Leaders:

  • “Almost 50% of marketing budgets is wasted on generating leads that companies don’t contact.” – Conversica
  • “Accounts that see both targeted brand and acquisition messaging are 6x more likely to convert.” – LinkedIn Research
  • “Almost 85% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments, while 72% reported an uplift in revenue growth.” – ITSMA


No longer is it just about marketing owning top-of-funnel leads or sales owning bottom-of-funnel opportunities. With endless segmenting capabilities based on a wealth of first- and third-party data, more channels than any other platform in the market, and deep analytics that measure every stage of the full funnel, Terminus provides a platform for modern marketers to help their sales and customer success teams succeed. Account-based marketing and Terminus can help your company dramatically grow in more efficient and effective ways than ever before.