This blog post is the fifth in Alyce’s seven-part series on account-based marketing best practices. For this post on creating an ABM charter, we connected Kathy Macchi, an ABM expert, self-proclaimed “survivor of the tech industry,” and vice president of consulting services at Inverta.
B2B marketing can sometimes feel like a “herding cats” scenario. Great marketing strategies can fall apart if the people you depend on across other departments, including sales, operations, support, etc., aren’t on the same wavelength as you work to make marketing magic happen. And, if we’re being honest, sometimes you may feel like you’re personally doing so many different things at once that you need to “herd” yourself.
Since ABM requires strong interdepartmental alignment and laser focus on your target accounts, you can’t afford to find yourself in a situation where everyone’s running in different directions and no one’s got the same interpretation of the plan. Is there were a way to alleviate this pulled-in-too-many-directions, not-sure-if-we’re-aligned-until-it’s-too-late feeling?
Create Your Map
“To guide your ABM strategy, you need a charter to define the program and how you plan to operationalize it,” says ABM expert and vice president of consulting services at Inverta, Kathy Macchi. “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.”
The ABM charter – or, your roadmap for alignment and success – is a key internal asset for any organization embarking on an ABM journey. And it will be the place to come back to if you’re faced with the question: Is everyone involved in ABM on the same page?
Get on the Same Page
Speaking of being on the same page, Kathy recommends your ABM charter be a literal one-pager. In a distilled, single-page guide, your ABM charter should include several elements to keep everyone aligned.
“In your ABM charter, start with the why. You need to document the purpose of your ABM approach, whether that’s to expand your footprint, win net-new accounts or defend against competitors. You should also define the decision criteria you used to build your target accounts list so that everyone knows why any given account got onto the list in the first place. Next, you should document who is accountable from each different department or team – marketing, sales, field marketing, operations – and spell out who’s who in your ABM strategy. Then, put down shared metrics, critical success factors and potential risks, along with key activities the ABM team will conduct collaboratively to reach its shared goals,” explains Kathy.
Assemble Your ABM Cartographers
Kathy’s No. 1 piece of advice for creating an ABM charter? “Don’t create it in a vacuum.”
You may have noticed words like “alignment,” “collaboration” and “shared” as we’ve discussed the ABM charter so far. This is no accident: you need to assemble an ABM leadership team that spans marketing, sales, operations, etc., to sketch your ABM map together.
“If you’re serious about ABM, you need an ABM leadership team,” says Kathy. “Once you’ve assembled your team, you’ll want to hold a working session to talk through the purpose, what everyone wants to accomplish, and how they plan to accomplish it. When you build an ABM charter collaboratively from the start, you’ll end up with philosophical, operational and analytical alignment – with leaders across sales and marketing bought in to the plan.”
Your ABM Charter Can’t Be One-and-Done
Getting everyone bought in and aligned around a shared understanding of the purpose and plan for your ABM program is critical in the early days, and its importance doesn’t diminish as your ABM strategy matures.
“It’s important to remember that moving to an ABM model is really a change management effort for sales and marketing,” Kathy explains. “It’s hard to change habits, no matter what the habit is. For example, if you’re a VP of marketing and you’ve been working toward volume-based MQL metrics for the past 10 years, an ABM approach requires a commitment to change.”
One way to ensure everyone involved in ABM can adopt new habits and re-train their thinking to be account-based rather than lead-volume based is to keep a steady flow of communication open between all the key players. “Internally, there is no such thing as overcommunicating in ABM, especially in the first few months,” says Kathy. “Your ABM leadership team should meet at least monthly, with the ABM charter as the conversation guide, to reinforce the purpose and plan you outlined in the beginning, review recent activity and wins, and to align on what’s needed for success as you go forward.”
Whether you’re exploring ABM for the first time or looking to take your strategy to the next level, it’s critical to have an ABM charter as an at-a-glance interdepartmental roadmap for success.
The Moral of the Story
- Interdepartmental alignment is key for ABM to work.
- It is critical to create an ABM charter as a way to define your organization’s ABM approach and created a shared vision across sales, marketing, operations, support, etc.
- An ABM charter – or, your roadmap for alignment and success – should document purpose, target account criteria, internal key players, shared metrics, critical success factors, potential risks, and key activities.
- To stay aligned over time, it’s critical to keep reinforcing what your cross-functional leadership team originally defined in your ABM charter.
Many thanks to ABM expert Kathy Macchi for her insights.
Have your own ideas to add? Comment below or drop the Alyce team a line to chat.