November 12th, 2016 | by

Account-based marketing (ABM) has become one of the latest buzzwords in B2B marketing circles. Executed correctly, ABM is more than just the latest tech trend—it has the power to transform your sales process and increase your win rate.

More B2B organizations are beginning to implement account-based marketing, but we’re seeing many struggle in those early adoption days. In this blog, we’ll examine where those ABM challenges are, and how to overcome them.

The benefits of ABM

Before we jump in, let’s share a quick overview of what account-based marketing is and the benefits for sales and marketing teams. ABM flips the traditional sales funnel, which starts with attracting leads using content and then qualifying those leads as they move through the funnel. Instead, ABM focuses on first identifying attractive prospects and then specifically targeting those accounts. This approach produces more qualified leads, allows for extremely personalized marketing, and increases close ratios.

Tradition Sales Funnel 

Traditional Sales Funnel             

ABM Sales Funnel   ABM Sales Funnel

A tough transition for sales and marketing

Though account-based marketing is touted as an approach that will unite marketing and sales while enhancing the overall sales process, that doesn’t mean adoption will be seamless. Many companies run into challenges when implementing ABM, simply because it is so different from traditional processes.

Here, both marketing and sales have new roles, and change is tough to manage for anyone—particularly people with commission dollars at stake. The first key to implementing ABM successfully is education. Understanding its many benefits could help to make account-based marketing more readily adoptable by both groups. Marketing and sales leaders should also map out a specific plan for new processes and well as continue education to keep everyone informed.

  • Marketing: The marketing team’s new role becomes that of using sales intelligence tools to identify ideal prospects. Because marketing now has so much specific data about their target prospects, they can create extremely tailored and effective content as well. Marketing will then continue prospecting through traditional channels as before (email, social, etc.) to the target accounts, working to move prospects through the funnel.
  • Sales: Once the prospect has become qualified by marketing, it will be handed over to sales to close. No longer will they be focused on cold calling long lead lists. Moreover, using the sales intelligence available, the salesperson will gain insight into the typical buying cycle, budget and challenges of a target account.


Defining team collaboration

ABM only works when the marketing and sales teams work together seamlessly. Creating an SLA (service level agreement) across your teams may also assist in adoption. An SLA should not be used to identify only what one group will do, but as an acknowledgement that both groups will work together and have specific roles. For example, marketing acknowledges that they will produce 300 leads a month for sales, and sales acknowledges that they will follow up with leads produced through ABM/Inbound results in a timely fashion. Understanding how each team will participate in the success of the whole will go a long way in ABM adoption.  


It’s all about the data

The foundation of account-based marketing is up-to-date, detailed sales intelligence. This provides marketing and sales with information about the best prospects to target and exactly how to tailor the messaging to each account. However, it won’t come as a surprise that more B2B organizations have a less-than-clean database, with outdated, inaccurate and missing information. In fact, each year up to 30% of CRM data goes bad. ABM can only be successful with a robust and accurate sales intelligence solution that delivers the insights sales and marketing needs.

Beyond simply knowing how to work each account, having access to the right data helps ensure  those most likely to buy are targeted first—the underpinning of the entire approach. Companies without the right intelligence tools may choose accounts by revenue, prospects by title, or other surface-level factors, while deeper analytics allow for set criteria and predictive modeling to identify and surface your ideal buyer persona. Having the right technology from the start is critical to successful ABM adoption.   

Is your company ready to take the next step?

If you think account-based marketing might be a good plan of action for your organization, the first step is research and planning, to ensure it’s the right fit and find the tools you need to support its adoption. To learn more about ABM, including what industry experts are saying and how to implement, take a look at this ultimate guide.

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