Do More with Less: How to Operationalize ABM with a Small Team

When your marketing team is small and spunky, there’s no guide book or step-by-step process for getting things done. You do what you need to in record time by means of caffeine and a few self pep talks.

And when you pair your small marketing team with a new strategy like ABM, you have to be doubly determined. You aren’t just the quarterback — you’re the trailblazer, the project manager, the cheerleader. You have to pitch the strategy to your leadership team, your marketing team and your sales reps. (Thankfully it shouldn’t take too much convincing. SiriusDecisions reports that 92% of companies recognize the value in ABM.)

Let’s assume your team is onboard. Now, how do you go about operationalizing your ABM strategy? If you’re like most companies new to the ABM game, this will be the stage where you get tripped up. Fortunately, there are some quick steps you can take to get on the road to operationalizing ABM.

As a marketer within a team of 25, here’s how we made it happen:

Alignment Cliche

Overused but true nonetheless, alignment between sales and marketing is key. The two teams must work together to create a target account list. Your ABM leadership team should determine the baseline requirements for your customers—perhaps they need fundamental technology like a CRM or MAS, perhaps they need a certain number of employees or revenue. This baseline needs to be determined in order to select your top accounts.

But alignment doesn’t stop there. Marketing needs to be aligned with the shift as well. Prepare your team for the change in attribution and measurement. In an ABM world, you’ll focus on pipeline, not leads. And since you’re focusing on a small set of accounts, you’ll get fewer piped opportunities. But don’t panic! Your close rates will increase, your ACV will increase and your retention rates will increase. Prepare your Marketing team for this transition with transparency and readjusted goals.

Here’s how our numbers readjusted after doing ABM for one year:

Technology is your Friend

Many teams decide to begin with a pilot. And if your leadership team is divided on ABM, I recommend it. But we’re focusing on the next step after your team is bought in.

Once an ABM strategy has been agreed upon, Artificial Intelligence becomes the game changer. AI-enabled ABM technology can tell you who should be on your Target Account List, which accounts are showing intent, who to advertise to and more. In fact, AI is perceived as a long-term strategic priority for innovation, with 76 percent of the respondents citing AI as fundamental to the success of their organization’s strategy, and 64 percent believing that their organization’s future growth is dependent on large-scale AI adoption. (Infosys).

So in order to see continuous ABM success over a long period of time, you’ll need a vendor that can deliver on AI. Here at Demandbase, we use AI to define our target account list and provide sales with real-time insights, including intent spikes, what their target accounts are reading or writing about, and what keywords they are researching.

Those insights are then delivered straight to the reps via the communications tools they use most, whether it’s Slack, email, or Salesforce.

Scale as you grow

There are two types of “scaling” to consider at the high growth stage.

From a high level strategy perspective, your ABM efforts will need to be tweaked as your team grows. As your Sales team grows, you will need more target accounts. And as your marketing team grows, you’ll need to find new ways to incorporate an account focus into existing and future programs, whether that’s content, live or digital events, or direct mail. At Demandbase, we re-evaluate our tactics and data twice per fiscal year.

By the same turn, your technology will need to scale with your growing team. It’s simple work to select 100-300 target accounts, which can be done manually with the help of your CRM. However, as your target account list grows past 500+, technology will not only be helpful, it will be essential. Using account selection technology, you also won’t be tied to your CRM’s dirty data.

Now, you likely aren’t a stranger to technology. In fact, I’d argue that mid-size companies have tried more technologies than many enterprise companies combined. This also means you aren’t a stranger to churning through technology. How many times have you outgrown part of your stack? If you’re growing at a similar rate as Demandbase, I imagine it’s more than a handful.

To prevent wasting an investment, onboarding new vendors and de-connecting undersized technology, we buy technology that our high growth team can grow into.

Want to learn more about high growth Account-Based Marketing? Connect with me on LinkedIn to learn more about how we do things within our scrappy team here at Demandbase.