ABM Lessons from a Marketing Newbie

If you’re like me and are brand new to ABM or even the marketing world in general, it can all seem a bit confusing. I equate it to hearing British English. I’ve heard all of these words before, but I’ve assigned them different meanings. Words like pipe, which I always thought was a metal rod used in plumbing, or SQLs, which I didn’t even know was an acronym for anything at all. Thankfully, my first task at Demandbase was to get ABM Certified through Demandbase’s Foundations and Advanced Certification courses and reading the book, Account-Based Marketing by Chris Golec, Peter Isaacson, and Jessica Fewless. These courses break down what ABM is, how it can be useful and ways to implement ABM in your company. These resources also helped me understand the language I was hearing and seeing around me. So, let me break it down to the key takeaways from my lessons in ABM.

Why ABM?
Let’s start at the beginning with the course’s definition of what ABM is. “ABM enables marketers to identify and target the accounts they value most. ABM solutions include account-based data and technology to help companies attract, engage, convert, and then measure progress against customers and prospects at scale.” Now, I may not have experience with other types of B2B marketing, but to me, this seems just like the most straightforward way to market. It seems unreasonable to do things any other way. Why throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks, when you can gain insight about what will stick, put that together and then throw it at the wall. The important differences between ABM and traditional B2B marketing is the collaboration between the sales and marketing departments and the focus on the best opportunities, or what’s known as your target account list.

Key Gains of ABM Strategy
All three of the resources agreed on the following key gains in ABM strategy that can help you and your organization. If there’s anything that I learned in school, it’s that repetition means it’s important.

Collaboration vs. Conflict
In traditional B2B, marketing is focused on the individual, while sales is focused on the accounts. They aren’t working side by side, but are working in a more linear fashion. Marketing generates leads, then once they reach the MQL stage, they hand it over to sales to close the deal. However, with Account-Based Marketing, marketing is now also focused on specific target accounts. This allows both departments to work more closely and keep their focus on the same targets. Marketing now works alongside the sales department to help more deals close.

Quality vs. Quantity
With ABM, companies are now focused on a smaller, more targeted account list rather than a lot of accounts that may or may not find your product useful. The thing that helped me understand this was the metaphor of the margarita glass versus the champagne glass. Traditional B2B marketing was a lot like a Margarita glass, large at the top and very skinny at the bottom. The old way was all about adding as many leads to the top of the funnel as possible with very little ending in closed-won business at the end. The new model of marketing (ABM) is more like a Champagne flute. You put fewer leads at the top of the funnel but they are more quality leads, which generates more closed-won business at the end of the funnel. Being a visual learner, this was the best way for me to understand quality versus quantity of leads.

Efficiency vs. Wastefulness
With ABM, your resources become more focused on your target account list helping you become more efficient and closer to a zero-waste marketing strategy. You can personalize your marketing to your target account list, who you know will be interested in what you are marketing and they will become more likely to travel down the champagne glass ensuring that your efforts aren’t being wasted.

Proactive vs. Reactive
Rather than waiting for leads to come to you, now you can engage with your target accounts in order to bring them in and teach them about what you’re selling. The way that this can be done is through field marketing events, webinars, direct mail, advertising, and social media. Allowing your company to be seen and considered before they find you on their own.

Intelligence vs. Leads
As I’ve stated before, with ABM the focus is on a target account list. This allows for higher quality leads that will be more likely to result in a closed-won deal rather than cold calls to accounts that may not have any interest in your product. But remember, repetition means it’s important.

With two weeks of Account-Based Marketing under my belt, I know that I still have a lot to learn. Although, by becoming ABM Certified and reading the ABM book, I no longer feel that I’m listening to a foreign language around me and for that, I’m very grateful.