This is How I ABM: Tips from Marketing Operations and Sales Development Pros

We let our partners take center stage in the series This is How I ABM. Representing the different roles of marketers, each marketing pro shares their perspectives on how to use ABM at work. In this post, we spotlight peers with roles in Partner Marketing, Marketing Operations, and Sales Development & Enablement.

One-Size-Fits-All Just Isn’t Right

When I was younger, I shopped at a store (which I’ll keep anonymous) where everything was one-size-fits-all. Their pants, shirts, sweatshirts, and socks: all with tags stitched in the seams that said One Size Fits All. Recently, I was able to revisit the store. I was to introduce, with great anticipation, my pre-teen cousin to the clothing line I fondly remembered. But as we shuffled through the garments, a realization swept over me—one of those sad moments of unannounced clarity that generally comes with age—that one size definitely does not fit all. In fact, one size doesn’t even fit most. How has this store managed to stay in business so long? Regardless, I’ve come to terms with the fact that nothing is one size fits all. That applies to clothes, shoes, and, yes, even ABM.

While every type of marketer can succeed with ABM, they each interact with ABM in distinct ways. In fact, how you ABM is based on, not only your role, but also your level of expertise in that role. For example, the way that a sales development rep applies ABM is different from how a CMO may apply ABM.

We wanted to explore how marketers ABM. So we teamed up with some of our partners for their insights into how a marketing team can implement ABM across every level and every role. We share what they had to say in this special series, How I ABM.

In this post, read the perspectives of leaders in Partner Marketing, Marketing Operations, and Sales Development & Enablement.


Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been executing ABM programs for years, taking a blended approach to ABM is a smart move.

Check out our webinar This Is How You ABM: 1:1, 1:Few, 1:Many.

Partner Marketing

Christine Farrier, Sr. Director, Channel and Partner Marketing, Demandbase

How do I ABM? Basically, it’s ABM2. I target my partners to help me convert my target accounts. First, I get really clear on the strategic initiatives of my organization for the year, the quarter, and the month. Then, I spend some time thinking about how partners can support those efforts, and how we will be able to offer value in return. Normally, this means that I create a list of target partners within my total ecosystem. That’s because not all partners will be a good fit for the specific goals that I am hoping to achieve within a specific timeframe. This has meant that I’ve had to learn the art of tactfully turning down (quite a few) incoming partner co-marketing offers because they fall outside of my focus area.

Next, it’s reverse engineering time. At Demandbase, Partner Marketing carries a number for partner-influenced and partner-sourced opportunities. And every campaign has a clear set of internal and external goals. Emphasis here: Getting agreement and buy-in from all relevant stakeholders is a crucial component to achieving success. Finally, I get to sit back and watch the partner-attributed deals roll into my dashboard—By applying this approach, we’ve attained triple-digit, year-after-year, growth.

Marketing Operations

Howard Sewell, President, Spear Marketing Group

One way for the marketing ops team to help lay the groundwork for ABM—even in advance of any formal ABM program or campaign—is to focus on measurement. ABM requires a wholly different set of KPIs compared to traditional, funnel-based demand generation. And those KPIs vary depending on where a target account, buying group, or individual is in the account-based funnel.

For example, targeting accounts or individuals in early stages may be best measured on awareness (e.g., page visits) or engagement. Whereas KPIs for target accounts in the later stages of the conversion funnel may be meetings or stage velocity (how fast an account moves one stage to the next). At a minimum, consider integrating first- and third-party intent data to better identify the buying stage. Add custom fields like account stage, buying center penetration, and account score to help lay the groundwork for ABM.

Because they were designed to operate at the contact level, legacy marketing automation platforms’ ability to adequately measure account-level metrics can vary. So be prepared to evaluate whether new technology is warranted. This much is certain: When it comes to ABM, those who cannot measure success never achieve it.

Want more tips on how you ABM in Marketing Operations? Check out our dedicated section: Marketing Operations: This is How You ABM.

Sales Development & Enablement

Catina Martinez, Senior Consultant, Inverta

Sales development reps (SDRs) are the face of a business’ ABM program. They’re on the front lines building relationships with contacts and understanding what they need whether it’s a tool or a service. This relationship building serves as the foundation for a long-term client partnership. It’s also our opportunity, as a business, to make a good first impression; and you only get one of those.

SDRs are hungry for information that will get them in the door, and they’re willing to put in the hard work to get it. Most of us have all the tools we need in our stack to help the SDRs be successful, but few of us take the time to give them real use cases on how to leverage the tools. At Inverta, we’re supporting SDR success by committing to their continuous self-enablement training.

Here are a few tips from our playbook:

  1. Ensure the SDR activities-feed in your CRM shows both marketing and sales activity and that it’s specific about the content that engaged the prospect.
  2. Keep an up-to-date library of thought leadership content and use case studies that SDRs can send to prospects to nudge them along in their journeys.
  3. Help SDRs write their cadences. Make it a point to review cadences with them and talk through what is working and what can be improved.
  4. SDRs need to be trained to lead with insight. Empower them to use research for a compelling and customized message.
  5. Ask SDRs about content they are sharing with prospects that Marketing might not know about, and offer to help them to improve it. Keep in mind that even though you have best practices, so do the SDRs. Learning should go both ways.

Bottom line: SDRs, Marketing, and Sales all need to be on the same page. ABM is a choreographed exercise, not random acts of engagement.

Want more tips on how you ABM in Sales and SDR/BDR? Check out our dedicated section: Sales & SDR/BDR: This is How You ABM.

What’s Next

Think about using these tips as you apply ABM to your own marketing journey. Stay tuned for the next post in the series, which will cover the roles of VP/CMO of Marketing, Demand Generation, and Digital Marketing.

Meanwhile, check out our This Is How You ABM page, where we’ve curated content for every marketing and sales role. Happy marketing!