Top 3 Excuses from ABM Naysayers

Is it still even 2018? At this stage in my annual marketing planning, everyone is lucky I’m not signing off my emails with “Happy New Year!” As a B2B marketer at a high-growth company, my outlook is typically 3 – 6 months ahead, so I’m searching for cozy winter holiday venues in the height of summer or selecting bright cheery images for spring’s email drips, while sipping pumpkin spice lattes. To support our fellow B2B comrades who find themselves facing a similar scenario, we have created a workbook to help you achieve real results with ABM in 2019.

It’s hard enough to enter into strategic planning and navigate the minefields of conflicting priorities, limited resources, and unrealistic goals. But what happens if you’re committed to Account-Based Marketing and stakeholders haven’t seen the light? Every decision is debated, resources are spread too thin, and marketing efficiency suffers. No one has time for this when it’s a full-time job getting the work done!

I checked in with my Sales Development Team who are confronted daily with a plethora of reasons marketers have yet to adopt ABM. Three excuses were the most commonly cited by ABM naysayers. I’ve decided to share them with you and offer some advice on how we can address these perspectives and hopefully eradicate them from your planning process. .

Excuse #1: We’re not ready for ABM

Sydney Turko says: “Account-Based Marketing can sometimes be viewed as too intimidating or overly-complex. In my outreach, I’ve found that many B2B marketers see the value in ABM, but they struggle to figure out where to start. It doesn’t help that everyday you can read 20 or 30 new blog posts or news articles about ABM that all seem to offer a slightly different point of view. It’s no wonder that marketers feel so overwhelmed, especially if they dive right into the weeds of ABM execution. When contacts at our target accounts are focused on tactics instead of strategy, I start to hear more specific concerns like “My data isn’t ready for ABM”, “My sales team isn’t ready”, “My CRM isn’t ready”! Fear of not doing ABM perfectly prevents a lot of marketers from getting started at all.”

Christine’s advice: In most situations, fear is based on a lack of knowledge or experience. The same is true of ABM! During our ABM education workshops, we often tell attendees that the best time to start ABM was 3 years ago, the next best time is today. Set the intention to get yourself educated. Organizations like the ITSMA (a.k.a. the inventors of modern day ABM) regularly offer in-person ABM training. Or if you are a self-paced learner, Demandbase now offers online versions of our Foundations and Advanced-level ABM Certifications. A structured approach to increasing your ABM knowledge will provide the confidence to kick-off your ABM journey once and for all.

Excuse #2: We don’t have the budget for ABM

Vincent Matano says: From researching companies’ tech stacks, I have noticed that many B2B Marketers leverage a variety of “best in class” vendors, each of them serving different functions, maybe even utilized by different departments within the marketing organization, and of course each has their own price tag. This can lead to budget waste, not to mention the scattering of data across multiple platforms, and consequently, operational inefficiencies. For traditional demand generation marketers, I think the relentless pursuit of leads has them on the hunt for the latest and greatest mouse trap. Marketers seem weary of the bright shiny marketing tech that doesn’t deliver the promised ROI.”

Christine’s advice: Instead of thinking about how to get new budget for ABM, what if you could re-allocate some of your existing budget? ABM isn’t just a technology purchase, it’s a strategic paradigm shift that will overhaul how all the key stakeholders within your organization think about winning new business, as well as retaining and growing customer relationships. Here’s a simple example. In 2019, only sponsor events that have a 50% attendee overlap with your target account list. BUT… build up extra marketing activities around these events. Maybe you increase your sponsorship to include a speaking role, or you invest in a bigger booth and invite an extra product engineer to boost your on-site staff numbers. How much budget could that potentially free-up for some account-based advertising or analytics to support your overall marketing goals? Maybe you don’t need additional budget, you just need your current budget to work a little smarter. Get other budgeting strategies in our eBook.

Excuse #3: Things are working just fine without ABM

Alexandra Mauri says: My takeaway from talking to marketers all day, every day; they are constantly looking for ways to improve their initiatives! And they have numerous methodologies at their disposal. I agree that slight gains in key marketing metrics can be achieved through activities like a website refresh, renewed emphasis on content marketing or a data clean-up project. However, these marketers (surprise, surprise) are typically relying on a very marketing-centric approach. In conversations with marketers who think their programs are fine without ABM, digging a little bit deeper reveals that their sales and executive counterparts don’t necessarily share the same opinion, perhaps because they have not been involved in the process. If you ask them about marketing performance, you might get a very different answer.

Christine’s advice: Topo, the sales and marketing advisory firm, conducted a research survey with CMO’s practicing ABM to understand how ABM compared to traditional B2B marketing methods. Here are a few sample categories where they saw improved results: initial contract value, customer lifetime value, upsell / cross-sell revenue, close rates, and ROMI (return on marketing investment). But there’s more to the story. These metrics continue to improve, the longer you practice ABM, it isn’t a one-time gain. The industry is taking note and ABM is becoming more of a need to have and less of a nice to have. As a new generation of B2B marketers are gaining experience flexing their ABM muscles, are you willing to risk your professional job security on business results that are “good enough”.

What are some of the other ABM excuses or very real obstacles that you have heard or might be experiencing in your own organization? We would love to tackle them in a future blog post. Contact me at @B2BABM to get the conversation started.

Need help with your ABM strategic planning? Download 7 Planning Activities to Drive ABM Success — An ABM Workbook.