There's a reason account-based marketing is exploding in popularity within the B2B world, and it isn't because it's the newest shiny-object bandwagon to jump on. It's because ABM is the solution to making B2B marketing more effective than ever before.
We spoke with seven B2B marketing leaders who are seeing firsthand just how effective ABM can be. If you've been searching for advice and inspiration to supercharge your ABM initiative, read on. Here's what the experts told us.
1. Lisa Ames, vice-president of marketing at Lucidworks
"B2B marketers inherently have a sense that there are some accounts that are a better fit for your business than others. So, the starting point for ABM is shifting your thinking to focus marketing efforts on going after those potential customers, not anyone and everyone in your addressable market."
Lisa offered some encouraging words for B2B marketers ready to explore ABM as a new strategy: If you strip away the sense that ABM is uncharted marketing territory and focus on what you already know about your business priorities, you'll be off to a good start.
2. Kathy Macchi, vice-president of consulting services as Inverta
"The term 'ABM' can mean so many different things today—from marketing to 5,000 accounts to just a handful. You need to develop a charter to define the purpose and the vision for ABM at your organization."
Kathy explained the importance of developing a charter for your ABM initiative, essentially mapping out the who, what, why, and how of your approach. Kathy advised that marketers not create their ABM charter in a vacuum: To make this strategy snapshot meaningful, she said, you need to bring an ABM leadership team together—with Marketing, Sales, and Operations—to build the charter collaboratively.
3. Dave Rigotti, Marketo's head of enterprise demand generation and ABM
"Alignment is required if you want to deliver any kind of meaningful return in an ABM program. The No. 1 question to answer is, 'Are our marketing team's goals aligned with our sales team's goals?'"
Dave stressed the importance of building true alignment between Marketing and Sales, saying that the crux of creating real alignment is having shared goals and being incentivized to collaborate on achieving them. As Dave put it, "If Marketing has one set of goals related to lead generation and Sales has another set of goals related to revenue, real alignment is impossible."
4. Joe Chernov, vice-president of marketing at Pendo
"As B2B marketers, we've been indoctrinated to think it's all about leads. But, for ABM, the focus is accounts, not leads. So, we need to replace the marketing-qualified lead with the marketing-qualified account as the metric for success."
When we connected with Joe, the focus was on pinpointing the right success metric for ABM. Spoiler alert: it isn't the MQL. B2B marketers have been trained to think "more, more, more" when generating leads, but sales teams often find these so-called MQLs to be too high-volume and too low-quality. Investing in ABM gives marketers an opportunity to connect with Sales to define a new success metric that makes sense across the board.
5. Brian Kardon, CMO at Fuze
"Before we went all-in with ABM, our spend was roughly 55% people and 45% programmatic. With ABM, that has shifted to be closer to 45% people and 55% programmatic. We are investing in more high-touch selling.... We spend money to give our target accounts something special."
Brian walked us through his approach to budgeting for ABM success. With a deep understanding of Fuze's target accounts and a high potential total contract value with each account, Brian and his team are willing to "spend a lot" on engaging target accounts to create opportunities and strengthen relationships. When you narrow your list from everyone in the addressable market to the top accounts that matter most to your business, your marketing dollars can go further with each target account.
6. Lauren Vaccarello, most recently vice-president of marketing at Box
"When you're building an ABM strategy, before you decide on where to invest time and budget from a program standpoint, sit down...and ask, 'What do we want to do?'...The decision you make here should guide how you think about programs and tactics."
Lauren detailed how she and her team had built programs and tactics to advance their ABM mission. Lauren talked us through four areas within her ABM approach:
- Intelligence: How can ABM play a role in building account intelligence?
- Awareness: How can ABM create a tailored digital ecosystem around target accounts?
- Events: How can ABM create moments of in-person serendipity with key accounts?
- Sales enablement: How can marketers support sales to capitalize on ABM-driven opportunities?
7. Ken Evans, senior director of marketing operations at Fuze
"If you have the luxury of building your ABM strategy and tech stack from scratch, the key question to ask is, 'How are we going to run this engine, and how do we make sure it keeps running so that we can achieve our goals?'"
Ken emphasized the fundamentals of building a strong ABM strategy and making martech decisions to match. The technologies Fuze uses to fuel its ABM approach fulfill specific purposes, from identifying purchase intent among potential buyers, to keeping the sales enablement engine running, to breaking through the clutter by creating personalized pivotable moments with target accounts.
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Take it from the experts: ABM can be a powerful way to align Marketing and Sales, spur the development of a metric that serves us better than the MQL, and engage and impress target accounts in more meaningful ways.
Disclosure: Fuze is a customer of Alyce.