Congratulations! You’ve been Account-Based Marketing and you’re ready to scale. It’s important to remember scaling is not “one and done.” It’s not just for ABM newbies – many mature ABM teams will embark on some form of scaling as the company grows, sales and marketing teams evolve, and marketing technology changes.
The most common form of scaling is also the first scaling exercise a team goes through – expanding an ABM pilot to a full-blown ABM strategy. Most organizations define a pilot to be a small, self-contained program which can be quickly and easily taken to market and measured. Often it will be a handful of companies. Scaling this type of pilot will expand the number of companies. But this is not as straightforward as it sounds. If you were doing 1:1 or 1:Few ABM, you’ll need to be careful to consider how much you can scale your existing programs more broadly without upgrading to the next tier of ABM. (Read more about types of Account-Based Marketing.) If your pilot was a small-scale version of a 1:Many ABM program, scaling may be as simple as adding accounts and budget.
You may have been doing ABM successfully for some time but need to continue to gain marketing efficiency. To scale your ABM, consider adding new accounts to your existing Target Account List, adding a new customer segment, or take your existing list and create new, more contextual ABM programs for sub-segments such as industries or company size. For larger organizations with multiple product lines, you can take your ABM best-practices developed for one product line and apply them to another product line.
According the ABM Benchmark Study, 58% of companies plan to scale using a "blended" ABM strategy. When organizations begin with a 1:Many approach, deploying tactics such as account-based advertising and site personalization, they may choose to add more highly targeted 1:Few ABM programs designed for strategies such as competitive displacement, pipeline acceleration, and customer retention.
Be sure you show unequivocal value from your ABM program that will convince even your most ardent detractor.
Think about your current processes and how you plan to scale. Take time to pressure-test your processes to ensure they don’t collapse.
You may think you have buy-in but expanding your ABM program may uncover unexpected issues (or you may have new stakeholders who weren’t part of the original ABM-team). Take time to re-confirm everyone is on board.
Where you can make the biggest impact to your business objectives will be the first consideration when deciding where to scale but if there are significant obstacles, you may decide to pursue a different path to scale your ABM until these can be overcome.
Make sure you’re thinking about all the ways scaling can impact your budget – it may not just be that you’re doing more but you may also need to invest in additional resources or technology to support the expanded effort.
Not all marketers may be ready for ABM so ensuring everyone is knowledgeable and equipped, that the team is organized properly, and everyone is goaled on business outcomes will help to make your Account-Based Marketing successful.
If you made it through the checklist, you are now in an excellent position to create your ABM scaling playbook. And you do need a playbook: it’s one thing for people to agree to a pilot but a full-blown ABM strategy needs a bit more structure. It should clearly show how to expand your ABM strategy into different types of new areas of the business—a new territory, different business unit, and soon. It should also define the process and provide people in leadership, Marketing, Sales, and Operations with everything they need to repeat the successes of the ABM pilot. Let’s now look at how to enable those four areas in order for the ABM scaling effort to be successful.
If you made it through all six of these main questions, you are now in an excellent position to create your ABM scaling playbook. And you do need a playbook: it’s one thing for people to agree to a pilot but a full-blown ABM strategy needs a bit more structure. It should clearly show how to expand your ABM strategy into different types of new areas of the business—a new territory, different business unit, and soon. It should also define the process and provide people in leadership, Marketing, Sales, and Operations with everything they need to repeat the successes of the ABM pilot. Let’s now look at how to enable those four areas in order for the ABM scaling effort to be successful.
Transparency and communication will be the key to getting full support from your leadership. Your playbook needs to address the ways to make this happen. Think about the reports you plan to share across the scaled-up ABM team, expect to meet on a regular basis, frequently discuss success metrics, and be sure to systematically review and update your target account list.
Show how the marketing mix will change with an ABM focus versus the previous way of doing business. Define the dashboards and reports the team will need to stay aligned, determine success, and make educated decisions. Determine if changes in goals or compensation will be needed. Consider how you will organize these reports to align with how the team is organized and goaled – by region, function, channel, campaign.
No ABM strategy can succeed without the support of your sales team, no matter how effective you were at identifying your target account list, or how creative the campaign design was. Your playbook should answer the question “Does Sales have everything they need to fulfill the requests from Marketing? What else can Marketing do to help Sales, given that our overall goals are the same?” This sales-enablement support does not stop with marketing materials: Sales also needs reporting and dashboard support to make sure they’re tracking toward success. That involves campaign, monthly, and quarterly performance and pipeline dashboards along with campaign prioritization recommendations from Marketing.
Marketing Ops helps keep Marketing and Sales continually focused on the main goals of ABM through a suite of technologies, reports and dashboards. Your playbook should answer the question “What do we need this quarter, next quarter, and one year from now, in order to grow?” There may be unexpected changes to your tech stack, monitoring or measuring once you bring on new teams or business units which have their own way of tracking and measuring success.
How big should my target account list be? This online calculator helps you define the size of your list to best suit your business.
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Understand the three main types of ABM companies are implementing today, why they all have their place in an integrated strategy, and how best to utilize them.
Accelerate Your ABM
When you’re looking to invest in technology to help automate, scale and accelerate your ABM initiatives, this guide gives you questions and criteria to help guide your thinking as you start evaluating vendors.
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Molex identifies, personalizes, and advertises to target accounts. Rather than impressions and clicks, Molex defines success by high value content engagement, bringing Marketing and Sales closer than ever before.
“We started with one account. What is the message we want to give that one account? Where can we get that message out? And who else could use a similar message? Instead of one account, now we're focused on 10, 20, 40, 60, 80. ”
Some organizations have an ABM-specific budget directive. You have buy-in to implement ABM and have dedicated monetary support as well. This is the least-common budgeting method but it does exist for some lucky teams. For this approach, you really need to think about the processes and tools you have in place to support your strategy. Is your CRM set up to support an ABM strategy? What about your marketing automation system? Do you have a way of tracking target accounts? Consider reports and dashboards you may need to help you track toward your goals, so you can prove the ROI of this spend 6-12 months down the line.
The average marketer has a small window of leeway within their budget; and it is typically used to test new methods or approaches to marketing. This is commonly around 10% of the overall marketing budget. The challenge with this budgeting method is you need to show ROI quickly and many of the ABM metrics such as average contract value, close rates, or funnel velocity, while excellent indicators of success, can take some time to get to. Therefore, it is important that you also identify leading indicators -- metrics that show you’re on the right path -- which will give leadership the confidence to allow the test to continue. When using this method to fund ABM, partnering with a Sales leader who believes in ABM and is willing to put some of their success in your hands becomes even more crucial than with other methods.
Consider finding funding ABM by approaching another department, like Sales, and asking for budgeting assistance. This is a fantastic opportunity to leverage the alignment you’ve been building with your Sales counterparts. Marketing may have bigger budgets than some departments, but their spend tends to be heavy on demand generation, so it is likely that they may not have the resources for ABM. Sales departments have a budget to support their technology needs including CRM or sales enablement tools. The tools needed for Account-Based Marketing will offer a variety of insights for Sales to leverage -- anonymous buyer activity, product interests and alerts, and even visibility into stalled deals. This budgeting method will impact your success metrics so be sure you’re considering how measure success to make it a win-win for both orgs.
Marketers also find budget to invest in ABM by rolling it up under other initiatives. For example, Marketing automation upgrades can align well with ABM as many marketers are looking to make their databases more account-centric. Or, link your ABM technology with a website redesign so you can measure the site using account-level data and personalize the experience to increase engagement and conversions. Justify the spend by comparing the metrics of personalization efforts to the regular, non-personalized site messaging and the value of being able to identify previously anonymous traffic.
With some creativity, working with what you have is another great option for finding budget, and it’s the most common way to fund your ABM initiatives. The key to this approach relies on accurately identifying what’s working and what’s not. Start by building a list of your current budget items. Take a look at your biggest spends and how predictably you can reach your target accounts. For those items with less significant returns or likely engagements with your target accounts, you may be able to do some reallocation to other, ABM-focused programs. This shift can be considered a test to see if the reallocation makes sense, which can alleviate concerns about this change.
Just like you can’t buy your way into an ABM strategy, you can’t scale simply through purchasing technology. With that said, technology can make it easier to manage and measure your ABM at scale. Before deciding on what technology you need, you will need well-defined objectives and use cases. Also think about where you are doing things manually or areas where scale will tax your existing technologies.
How do you choose from among the 7000 (and growing) marketing technologies? Break technologies down into categories.
You aren't going to tackle all of these categories at once. Determine where you have the biggest gaps and what will give you the biggest return. The technology alone will not solve your problem so be sure you have a clearly defined strategy, identified success metrics and resources with time dedicated to making the integration successful.