ABM Tech Connect Series: Lessons Learned

It’s 2020 and with this new decade upon us, it’s time that B2B marketers adapt and switch their thinking. ABM has transformed the way we do business and the increase in adoption has proven this new way of thinking drives better results.

At the end of last year, Demandbase partnered with Demand Metric to bring you the State of the ABM Tech Stack Research Report. This report provides actionable data and research about technology’s role in modern marketing. It also helps identify gaps in your stack to optimize performance.

We found the research so valuable that we wanted to take it out on the road! So we hit 7 cities across North America to discuss the findings, share ideas and gain inspiration for 2020. There was so much goodness that we felt it needed to be shared with everyone.

ABM Maturity
Account-Based Marketing has become an essential part of the B2B marketing landscape. The category is continuing to mature, the technology landscape has grown to support ABM strategies and organizations are adopting ABM as a need to have but the majority of marketers haven’t quite caught up. Our study with Demand Metric found that 70% of study participants rate their ABM adoption maturity as immature, 21% at the median level, and just 9% at the mature level. We found similar results when we did a quick survey of the room at each event.

The bottom line is it’s important for ABM users to gain maturity for many reasons, among the most important is the acceleration of revenue, customer acquisition, and ROI. Mature ABM adopters have fewer challenges. There are many challenges facing B2B marketers highlighted in the report but a few to call out pulled directly from our attendees are budget, alignment, technology and measurement.

Budget: When switching to an Account-Based model, it takes dedicated resources, time and money. This can be hard if you aren’t able to prove results immediately. One solution is to run a pilot and do some testing, which is the stage that many of the marketers we spoke with were in. More on tips for creating a successful pilot and getting buy-in can be found in our resource center and our ABM certification.

Alignment: Many marketers find it hard to get ABM off the ground because of alignment within their marketing and sales teams. Account-Based marketing is truly a team sport so it’s important to make sure that everyone understands the goals, their role, and how the programs will impact the business.

  • One of our customers was having difficulty with alignment in the early stages. They ended up setting weekly recurring meetings with the sales team to keep on top of progress from all stakeholders and show they were serious about the ABM. This resulted in greater alignment, buy-in and results. In the beginning, the sales team was resistant but given the success, they now look forward to these meetings.
  • A break-through for another customer was when their sales team went to a conference and had companies they had been trying to meet with approach them already having heard of them and understanding what they do! That’s because the marketing team was targeting them using the agreed-upon target account list as the source of truth. Aha moment right there!

Technology: While Account-Based Marketing does not need technology, as you become more mature in your strategy, technology will allow you to scale your success. Technology can help you do many things throughout the buyer’s journey but most importantly they help you identify your target account list, capture the attention of your target accounts, engage the ones that are in market, convert those accounts to pipeline and assist in closing more business. An important thing to remember as you look at technology is that it is meant to assist and power your ABM strategy, not do ABM for you. You must bring in technology that works, use it correctly, prove out the technology, demonstrate the value and let the results speak for themselves. If you’re looking for areas to invest in technology check out our ABM Tech Stack Evaluator to get a custom recommendation!

Measurement: One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen across the board when it comes to measuring the success of ABM is reporting on ABM performance using traditional metrics. Something that we go over in our ABM certifications is the difference between traditional B2B marketing metrics and ABM metrics and why you need to start focusing on target accounts & overall revenue. Although it’s still important to collect data such as leads & MQLs, they don’t tell the full story. With your pilot, you’ll want to pick key metrics and establish your own baseline. You’ll want to think about what data is necessary, will push the company forward in a meaningful way and guide your sales and marketing teams to the next relevant step. Start looking at your marketing performance with more of a sales lense by including pipeline generation, win/close rates, deal velocity, and ACV in your reporting. As a marketing team, you need to understand the business and see what revenue looks like in order to create higher ROI activities.

Finally, I want to share a few quotes straight from our attendee’s mouths to keep top of mind as you continue your ABM journey and initiate your 2020 plans.

“ABM is a strategy, not a tactic – this is not a 2020 planning checkbox” – Minneapolis
“Don’t be afraid to fail.” – Denver
“How can technology ASSIST?” – Seattle
“Don’t just do ABM to do it.” – Austin
“Look at customers and what you did right there and use that to help inform your ABM strategy.” – New York
“Never say lead again.” – Toronto

If you found this helpful, make sure don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for our next workshop series: Listen Up: This Is How You ABM. This 5 city roadshow B2B marketing peers will share their trials, tribulations, tips, tricks, successes and most importantly how ABM has impacted their role. Three marketers will share their experiences and how their lessons learned can be applied to specific roles within the organization. Think of it as short stories, ABM style!