Top 6 ABM Planning Questions (And Their Answers)

We’re officially at the start of another holiday season and that can only mean three things, 1) the temperature’s dropping, 2) suddenly everything tastes like pumpkin spice and 3) it’s time for 2018 planning. At Demandbase, we know planning for a new year can be a difficult and sometimes stressful process—especially if that planning includes a new strategy like Account-Based Marketing (ABM). That’s why we’ve spent the last few months building out resources to help make the transition to a new strategy as seamless as possible. Below, you’ll find a list of six of the most common questions B2B marketers ask us about ABM planning:

1. Is ABM a strategic account strategy or is it a broader demand gen strategy?
ABM is a comprehensive demand generation strategy that actually covers both approaches. You can use ABM to target a few accounts or expand the scope of your program to include all your demand generation efforts. If you’re looking to brush up on your ABM basics, we recommend this eBook, which is a helpful primer.

2. Who should be in my ABM team?
While ABM will have a large impact on the broader organization, there will be some stakeholders from Sales, Marketing and Operations that play a bigger role. Therefore, it’s essential you set up a leadership team—one that includes those key folks—early on to help drive your ABM initiative forward. Your leadership team will be responsible for selling the value of ABM internally, defining goals and tracking progress along the way.

3. How big or small should my target account list be?
There’s really no right answer here. The size of your target account list depends on a variety of individual factors, including your business goals, team size and broader company initiatives. If you’re struggling to define accounts or need help proving the value of ABM within your organization, it might be a good idea to run a pilot program with a small number of accounts. As you start to see success, you can scale your ABM initiative and support a larger list of companies.

4. We have a long sales cycle, how do we demonstrate success along the way?
While corporate efficiency and revenue impact are the ultimate goals of ABM, there are some interim metrics you can use to prove success throughout the process. Here are a few you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • SDR team efficiency – has SDR productivity increased?
  • Marketing efficiency – how much pipeline is your marketing team generating? Has cost per opportunity decreased?
  • Account engagement – how engaged are your target accounts?
  • Account penetration – how many accounts are you reaching with marketing and sales activities?
  • Target accounts on your website – are your target accounts visiting your website?
  • Conversion from target accounts – how many target accounts are converting?

5. ABM budgets look different from company to company. How do we start thinking about budgeting?
You’ll want to use your marketing programs as a guiding point for your budgeting efforts. Can your current programs be modified to fit accounts? If the answer’s yes, then you’ll want to think about how your budgets will change and if you need certain technologies to help support and scale that particular program.

6. Should we invest in ABM technology? Where do we start?
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is this idea that you can somehow “buy your way into” the strategy. And when we say “buy your way into,” we’re referring to the common practice of investing in technology, well before you have a strategy in place. The companies that go this route often see their ABM programs lose momentum and fizzle out within a few months of technology implementation.

A better way to approach ABM technology is to start with a strategy first and then identify key gaps technology can help fill. Here are a few questions that can help guide your thinking around the topic:

  • Infrastructure: how do you track and execute your ABM strategy?
  • Account selection: how do you get the right list in place?
  • Engagement: how do you get a relevant message to your targets?
  • Sales enablement: Marketing’s done their job, how do you make sure Sales gets it over the finish line
  • Measurement: how do you know what’s working? What’s not? What’s next?

If you’re looking for some in-person content to help support your planning efforts, we’re hosting a number of planning workshops in the coming weeks. You can check them out here.