Why is ABM adoption growing?
ABM is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for organisations involved in B2B marketing due to its potential to grow a client base, deliver higher customer satisfaction, and boost ROI. Surveys suggest that 45% of companies that have had ABM in place for less than three years report significantly higher ROI, and that figure doubles in the case of businesses with three or more years of experience implementing ABM.
The growing popularity of ABM is reflected in the increasing budget that many firms now allocate to this strategy. According to a 2018 benchmark study, ABM accounted for nearly 30% of the total marketing budget in the firms surveyed.
The reasons behind the widespread adoption of this strategy lie in the nature of ABM itself: it’s a highly targeted and personalised strategy that relies on quality data and insights. Therefore, ABM lends itself well to integration with sales strategies and extends throughout the entire lifecycle, solidifying prospects for long-term growth.
We’ve just mentioned integration with sales strategies, and this poses an interesting question: who should manage your ABM strategy? Should it be handled by your marketing team or by your sales department?
What do sales and marketing experts think about the management of ABM?
We asked this question to a select group of industry experts. The general consensus is that effective ABM management involves the seamless cooperation of both sales and marketing teams. Some highlighted how getting both to work together can help achieve a more comprehensive vision of ABM and its potential benefits. As Lucas Robinson from Crediful put it:
“get your marketing and sales team to work together on this for the best solution. Otherwise you may be missing out on information or experience that one team has.”
“Sellers need to identify the accounts, understand what's important to them, and partner with marketing on creating a strategy. Marketing should take the information from the seller, and work with them to create a strategy for success based on pain points and specific information (region, industry, etc.).”
Along the same lines, Borja Prieto from Froged outlined a step by step description of how sales and marketing must be aligned for ABM to deliver the intended results:
“1.- Marketing & Sales set together the criteria to select which accounts to target (size of company, recent funding, technologies used, etc.
2.- Marketing & Sales decide together which and how many accounts they'll be targeting once the criteria is set.
3.- Marketing & Sales decide together what buyer personas will be chasing within those accounts
4.- Marketing & Sales, again, develop the content for that ABM strategy throughout the entire customer journey.”
These comments leave no room for doubt: coordinating sales and marketing teams for ABM management purposes takes time, effort, and skill. But the good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own.
Can your marketing partner help you with ABM?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is that marketing agencies have long been aware of ABM and can help you with the onboarding process in a way that supports your business goals. A good marketing partner will have ample experience using the leading ABM tools and the right technological solutions to deliver all their benefits involved in this strategy.
Some of the technologies your marketing partner can support you with include marketing automation, social listening, content curation, predictive analytics, retargeting, and digital advertising. Experienced marketing partners also possess the know-how to gather and analyse valuable insights that will guide your ABM strategy and deliver optimal results. And they can also help identify the most suitable type of ABM programme: one-to-one, one-to-few, or one-to-many, or blended strategy.
There’s yet another reason to work with a marketing partner in ABM management: their knowledge of dedicated ABM software that can simplify the implementation process and ensure the smooth collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Software tools like Hubspot natively target all aspects of ABM management, from identifying the best-fit target accounts to setting metrics and tracking progress.
A useful guide to ABM
So what should an effective ABM strategy look like? It can be useful to conceptualise ABM implementation across multiple stages, ensuring that collaboration and synergy between marketing and sales teams is present throughout.
The basic stages should include:
- Identifying key account drivers and client needs.
- Creating detailed profiles of all stakeholders and mapping their journey.
- Identifying the most relevant value propositions and linking them to individual stakeholders or segments.
- Building those value propositions into integrated marketing and sales campaigns.
- Executing, measuring results, and iterating.
The actual implementation will vary depending on the particularities of the targeted accounts and your business goals, but as a guideline, you should make sure that the following tactics are in place:
Ensure all stakeholders in your sales, marketing, and customer success teams have an aligned view of goals, KPIs, tools, and resources that will need to be used. This will allow your ABM strategy to move forward consistently, deliver faster results, and better customer experience.
Set up a dedicated ABM team. There should be at least one individual from each key department whose sole focus is ABM implementation.
Identify high-value accounts and their respective buying committees by leveraging existing technology, such as Linkedin profile search alerts.
Examine examples of success (such as lighthouse accounts or landmark deals) to identify similar accounts.
Collaboratively plan ABM strategy taking into account content creation strategies, the channels to be used, and how will different teams support each other as the strategy is deployed. Don’t forget GDPR compliance!
The steps can be divided into attracting and engaging good-fit accounts and developing a strong relationship with decision-makers. With regards to attracting high-value accounts, the most effective strategy is using a mix of social media and email marketing, customised content creation, in-person or online event marketing, and digital advertising. This will set the basis for building strong relationships with buying committees, a goal that should be played out over a longer period of time.
ABM implementation requires teamwork as well as clear leadership. Who should manage your ABM strategy is down to you, but there are two things worth considering whether you give more weight to sales or to marketing: you need to have a clear vision of your goals and end-to-end process, and an experienced marketing partner can help you reap the full benefits of ABM.