In the past month, Forrester published a research report focused on the emerging category of ABM platforms, a true indicator of how far ABM has evolved. The driving force behind the continued category growth and maturation? ABM is efficient, collaborative, proactive, effective and is dramatically improving the business results for the organizations that adopt this strategy. A nice consequence is the space-rocket career trajectories for B2B marketers knee-deep in formulating and executing ABM every single day. Rockstar ABM practitioners are a highly-valued commodity and savvy B2B marketing professionals are leveraging their ABM experience for long-term career success.
In this blog, we hear directly from two marketers here on the Demandbase team who have seen the positive impact of ABM on their own careers. Mid-quarter Christine Farrier was promoted to Director, Field & Channel Marketing based on the alignment of her field activities in supporting the CLOSED/WON outcomes of her regional sales team and Tenessa Lochner was recently hired to join the Demandbase team due in large part to her unique experience building out a successful ABM strategy from scratch.
In the tips that follow below, we offer a tongue-in-cheek look at the top 9 ABM Career Killers along with useful advice from Tenessa and Christine on ways to build your professional ABM brand.
ABM Career Killer #1: Don’t network with other B2B marketers practicing ABM
“Networking and getting to know other marketers is an important piece in building and promoting your career. A great way to get to know local B2B marketers in your area is to attend local workshops and conferences. This is helpful for a number of reasons: you’re able to see multiple speakers and experts speak to specific ABM topics and you also get to meet and greet with local marketers. In these situations, make sure you speak up and put yourself out there. While it may be uncomfortable to start conversations with people you barely know, there’s a feeling right now that we are all in the ABM trenches together and the relationships you build at these events can help you with future career opportunities.” – Tenessa
ABM Career Killer #2: Hold on to a Spray-and-Pray mindset for as long as you can
“It can be hard to let go of the false comfort of spreading your digital marketing “security blanket” as far and as wide as possible. For the experienced B2B marketer who has spent the last few years trying to stuff the top of the funnel with ALL.THE.LEADS, this shift from quantity to quality can be more than a little nerve wracking. But with the right strategy and preparation, along with a few rock solid tactics, you will be ready to roll out your ABM game-plan and prepare your teams for the fact that yes, there will be fewer “leads” but they should expect more pipeline opportunities, faster close rates and contracts with bigger lifetime values. Facts and figures that will make you a stand-out candidate when companies go looking for their next marketing superhero.” – Christine
ABM Career Killer #3: Don’t educate yourself on ABM best practices and latest strategies
“Make it a priority to read articles, do research and listen to webinars and podcasts (Growth Marketing Toolbox is one of my faves). A consistent education practice is a sure-fire way to elevate your ABM career. If you don’t keep your ABM skills fresh and up to date, you will soon find yourself behind and unable to speak to the newest trends and strategies. There is always room for growth and improvement even if you are a seasoned veteran. Marketing trends and research are always changing, in order to make sure you are at the top of your ABM game, you need to be aware of new knowledge that’s out in the market. Luckily, there are many ways to go about this, including reading content from ABM leaders, taking classes or certifications.” – Tenessa
ABM Career Killer #4: Practice Random Acts of ABM
“Even if you are launching a small pilot to kick off ABM, it’s still so important that that the program or campaign is connected in a meaningful way to the larger corporate or team goals. No ABM in a vacuum! Example, if your company is focused on the adoption of a new product within the existing customer base, don’t develop an ABM program geared to bring in net new logos. Both you and the program will seem out of touch with the priorities of your organization. The ABM programs with the greatest chance for success are purposefully crafted to seamlessly integrate into existing marketing operations, goals and projections versus isolated standalones.” – Christine
ABM Career Killer #5: Don’t talk to Sales
“Nothing will derail your career in ABM faster than maintaining the belief that marketing’s responsibility is to independently develop fully-baked marketing strategies and plans with little to no input from the sales organization. ABM’s success is tied to sales and marketing alignment in transforming target accounts into revenue. This approach demands transparency and communication from two teams that may have historically talked “at” each other but not “with” each other. The successful account-based marketer is going to be figuring out ways to collaborate with sales at every step in the customer journey, from target account selection to helping pushing pipeline opportunities into CLOSED/WON territory. #PROTIP Sales & Marketing not exactly vibing at your organization? Act as an ambassador to help create new lines of communication – maybe it’s a new shared dashboard or a weekly communication to highlight priorities for both teams. It will be a win for your teams and your personal brand!” – Christine
ABM Career Killer #6: Don’t do your ABM Career Research
“Like I mentioned earlier, marketing research is always changing and evolving and that means that ABM is too. If you are looking to continue to build your career in ABM, you need to make sure you know what jobs look like out in the market. What are companies wanting from an ABM role? Do you have all the skills that most job descriptions are asking for? If not, what skills can you brush up on in order to make yourself a good candidate for the role? Since most companies have already or are in the process of implementing an ABM strategy, recruiters and hiring managers will ask you about your ABM experience even if ABM is not in the title of the role. That’s how important it has become. Make sure you can speak to your experience in a quantifiable way to show your ABM success and knowledge.” – Tenessa
ABM Career Killer #7: Focus on the metrics that DON’T matter
“I think all marketers have had that moment where they are proudly reporting on the metrics from a marketing campaign (opens, clicks, likes and follows) and there is an exact moment when the eyes of every sales person in the room start to simultaneously glaze over. No big surprise, sales doesn’t care about vanity marketing metrics and as such, neither should we EXCEPT as predictive indicators of the future success of a given campaign. Even if is a new area for development, ABM and its focus on connecting accounts to revenue, requires that we favorite a different set of measurements like pipeline velocity, opportunity age, and contract value.” – Christine
ABM Career Killer #6: Don’t follow industry subject matter experts
“Most of us don’t know everything, even though sometimes we pretend we do. We need someone we can look to when making decisions or creating brand new strategies. When you follow people who are experts in the space, it allows you to learn from the best. Find a favorite, or few, who are creating content and research that you find inspiring. Experts can provide guidance and growth for you. With all the information out on the internet today, it’s nice to be able to look to an industry expert that you trust and admire. Some experts I follow are: Rob Leavitt, Jessica Fewless, Nolin LeChasseur and Kathy Macchi.” – Tenessa
ABM Career Killer #9: Don’t keep your ABM Tech Skills up-to-date
“With the growing number of marketing technologies out there (there are over 6,800!), it’s good to have knowledge on how technology overall can help scale and improve an ABM strategy. Now, this does not mean you need to become a technical wizard. But it does mean that you need to have some base-level knowledge of why technology can help improve ABM and why it matters. To do this, you can start by seeing what your company currently has in their marketing tech stack. What technologies are working for you and what are not? What pain points are you seeing in your current ABM strategy and how do you think technology can help with that? Having technical knowledge is a great tool to have in your toolbelt for your ABM career.” – Tenessa
If you’re a B2B marketer who’s passionate about driving positive results for your organization and your own career, more than likely, you are already doing most of these things. Bottom-line, increased conversion rates and high-fives from your sales team is just more fun! Building your career and personal brand with ABM doesn’t have to be rocket science. Focus on learning, growing, improving and communicating. Set some tangible career ABM goals like getting certified, publishing a few articles or speaking on a panel with other subject matter experts. Soon ABM will just be the gold standard for how great B2B marketing gets done, but until then, practice your craft, share your knowledge and take advantage of every opportunity ABM provides, both within your organization and for your own professional development.