It’s a humbling experience in many ways to speak to over a half dozen marketing leaders at high-growth tech companies and ask them a relatively simple question: What’s your ABM strategy?
Here are the top 6 things that I learned from these interesting conversations. I hope that this advice helps shorten the time it takes you to have immense success in executing an ABM strategy!
1. It’s not one size fits all.
Across the board, everyone acknowledged that the ABM strategy they are pursuing is completely based on whether it’s the right fit for the go-to-market strategy for their particular company. Joe Chernov put it best when he said, “If you’re selling to nuclear power plants, then your entire sales and marketing effort can revolve around a handful of accounts. But otherwise, there’s a blend – because you still need to do other activities to build brand awareness and top of funnel engagement.”
But it didn’t mean that all of these leaders were also extremely bullish on having a named account-centric view of their marketing execution.
2. It’s not just targeting – but this is where it starts.
I loved asking Lisa Ames, VP of marketing at Lucidworks, the simple question of how to define ABM. Her answer? “Ask your sales leader if they have target accounts – and then you’re doing ABM.” In many ways, marketing should be defining its execution plans by whether sales is attempting to get into any account or into specific accounts. And more B2B companies probably fall into the latter category, which means you’re probably doing ABM even if you don’t have a defined strategy for it.
3. Alignment is critical.
If sales doesn’t know which accounts marketing is helping them to penetrate, your ABM strategy will probably be a failure. Marketing leaders that seem to have the most success with ABM partner extremely closely with sales reps to help them execute programs – whether direct mail, follow-up messaging or local events – so that it can be truly a team execution.
In some organizations, the BDR team rolls up into marketing and this seemed to help everyone understand that the overall goal is to create opportunities. In this scenario, marketing isn’t going off into its own corner and attempting to do things on behalf of reps while they’re also doing direct outreach. The most successful programs put the BDRs more in the driver seat in program execution.
4. The right metrics matter – and it’s not MQLs.
I feel strongly that the MQL is the wrong metric for an organization pursuing an ABM strategy. That feeling wasn’t just shaped by my own experience over my years in marketing – and it was reaffirmed by my conversations with great marketing leaders.
The winning metric: the one that proves that you’re penetrating the right accounts. In most organizations, it’s measured by opportunities created or meetings held (as designated in your CRM).
5. Ask your boss if you’re doing it right.
When I asked Dave Rigotti, VP of enterprise demand generation at Marketo, “How do you know if you’re creating the right alignment and having ABM success?” his response was, “Ask your boss.” In his experience, the CEO is the true arbiter of ABM success, because Dave and his sales leader counterpart both reported to the CEO.
“We’re all in it together to generate pipeline, so if the right pipeline isn’t being generated, that accountability flows up to the mutual boss.”
6. Market to the person, not the persona.
The marketing programs that flow from an ABM initiative, which are executed as joint efforts between sales and marketing, can’t be simply persona-based. “You have to take the time and spend the effort to know who the actual people are at the accounts. What does the buying committee look like? Can we research these people’s interests prior to an in-person meeting and show them how much we care?” advised Joe Chernov.
It’s all about surprising and delighting – and that’s a higher bar than traditional content marketing efforts to personas – you have to know about the person,” said Lisa Ames.
I hope you’re feeling as inspired as I am about taking ABM to the next level. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the marketing leaders who took time to talk shop and share their experiences and advice around ABM strategy and execution. If you haven’t checked out the full #ABMxAlyce series, click here for a more in-depth look at these eye-opening conversations.