Plan, Measure, Improve, Repeat: Successful ABM


Successful sales reps know that the best recipe for closing a deal has two key ingredients: a clear solution to a problem and exceptional customer service. The recent boom of companies embracing the account-based marketing (ABM) approach reflects this. ABM is simply a new phrase for a long-standing sales and marketing approach which focuses these teams on a common goal – solving the needs and pain points of your companies most strategic accounts.

It’s easy to implement, straightforward, a natural progression of what most companies already do – in theory. However, ABM execution can be a challenge without the right strategy, tools and relationships in place.

In our article “Getting started with Account-Based Marketing (ABM)” we talked about exactly that – how you can get started with ABM. In this article, we want to look at how you can improve your account-based marketing success.

“97% of marketers agree that ABM has a ‘somewhat’ or ‘much’ higher ROI than other marketing initiatives.” – Marketo

New Approach and Fundamentals to Grasp

ABM isn’t a whole lot different from what most sales teams do today. But, when it comes to marketing, taking an account-based marketing approach comes with a whole suite of slight adjustments to the normal marketing approach and a heap ton of additional terms and nuances to get your head around. And it’s necessary. If you can’t get a proper grasp on the ABM approach, you’re never going to deliver a successful ABM campaign.

For the most part, successful account-based marketing campaigns have two critical elements. First, marketers need to have their fundamentals in place. And these need to be in place before you hit start on any ABM campaign. As with any marketing strategy your marketing team needs to understand the value proposition, optimise your website, gather insight from customers and have true alignment with your sales team. If you’re having challenges around these building block, hit the pause button on your ABM campaign and get them resolved. It’ll save you time, money and a lot of headaches down the line.

The second critical element is how your teams approach project management and execution. ABM is a long game, it’s all about endurance, and marketers need to constantly evaluate whether the right people are being targeted to ensure their needs are met. Most marketing teams are not used to the intensity ABM brings, especially for extended periods. It’s not realistic to expect your marketing team to keep delivering custom, personalised campaigns to multiple strategic accounts without increasing headcount or sacrificing attention for higher-value work. Something will have to go. Which brings us on to the next point.

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Save the Brain Trust for Strategy

Your internal team is best suited for high-value tasks and strategic thinking. They know your business far better than any third-party could, but that doesn’t mean a third-party can’t help. You don’t want your ABM team to be distracted by lower-value tasks like blogging, content product, competitive reports, lead qualification, customer feedback, data visualisation and even email design when they can all be outsourced. The same is true for CRM, database management, persona development, digital and print asset creation. Whether it’s through external providers, technology or both, account-based marketers need these resources and workflows at their fingertips, especially if you want to constantly deliver high-volume, personalised campaigns.

Your internal team should focus on higher-value tasks such as fostering one-on-one relationships with clients and creating segmented and targeted strategies. All whilst managing those out-house resources in alignment with your strategy.

Aligning Sales and Marketing is Crucial

Get your teams aligned in any organisation is massively beneficial, but if you want the most from your ABM (And who doesn’t?), it’s crucial.

  • When sales and marketing share ownership of lead nurturing conversion rates improve, on average by 67%. – DemandBase
  • 38% higher sales win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates for companies with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams.

The good news, ABM by its nature brings the two teams together to focus on a single unified goal. If you’re finding it a challenge to get sales to buy-in to ABM and general alignment, you’re not alone. It’s seen as one of the biggest challenges for most companies and has consistently sat at the top of the list. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to overcome this. This’ different for every business, and every sale team.

One foot in front of the other

There are plenty of challenges to overcome to make ABM work. You need senior-level advocates from all parts of the business to get on board. You also need the help of IT to integrate and coordinate communications to clients. It’s a fundamental shift to the whole DNA of your company. And that’s not something to take lightly. But the only way to get started is to put one foot in front of the other and take your first step. Will you create a magical unicorn of a campaign your first time, most likely not. But like everything in marketing, sometimes you’ll succeed, and other times you’ll fail. Make sure you keep evaluating your campaigns to improve future ones. But most importantly, don’t give up at the first hurdle.

To get started with your ABM journey, check out our other article on that exact topic here.

Joe Green

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