When should you try an ABM programme? Your 3-point checklist

There’s no doubt about it, account-based marketing (ABM) programmes have become a staple in B2B marketing strategy.

According to research:

  • Companies using an ABM approach see increased revenue by over 200% (Hubspot, 2021)
  • 80% of marketers say ABM outperforms other marketing initiatives (IntelligentDemand, 2019)

ABM can be a hugely beneficial approach for a B2B business, but when is the right time to begin down the ABM road and ensure you get maximum bang for your buck?

With limited resources and budgets, it’s absolutely critical any ABM programme or trial has the right building blocks in place to be a success.

So with this in mind, we’ve created a three-point checklist that will help you prepare for an ABM programme, get the support you need internally, and ultimately deliver return on investment.

1. Identify your key accounts (that aren’t likely to change)

The best place to start is by clearly identifying the accounts you want to target – and in the process, do your research to try and make sure the circumstances with the accounts you’re looking at aren’t going to change.

You’ll hit big problems if you start a programme only to find key accounts have been impacted by disruptive market trends, or internal leadership changes that make your proposition no longer relevant. Doing some due diligence upfront can prevent a lot of wasted time and budget.

You also want to make you’re not just picking a specific cluster of accounts based on gut-feel, location or size. Don’t assume anything. You need to make sure your offering or ‘sell’ is relevant to them.

Nothing is guaranteed, but by identifying accounts that clearly have the challenges that fit your solution, or people who are looking to influence change, you have a much higher rate of hitting the bullseye at the first time of asking.

It is also worth considering the size of the accounts you’re looking at, and how you’re going to approach the targeting. Whether your strategy is:

  • 1-2-1
  • 1-2-few
  • or 1-2-many

Our ‘curve of return’ model below shows the right approach when weighting spend versus return. The more targeted you become, with a higher value sell, the more personalised and 1-2-1 you want the interactions to be.

2. Make sure sales and account teams have time to commit to the programme

When an ABM programme works well, marketing and sales teams work together to create highly relevant messages based on insights. Collaboration is critical here to create a feedback loop which will help inform marketers of the most suitable activation collateral.

67% of companies are better at closing deals when sales and marketing work together.

Creating this new spirit of co-operation is not easy though. As a marketer, your challenge will be to get sales on board with your programme. You’ll then need to keep them fully engaged throughout the process. Without them, the process will almost certainly underperform or fail. Equally, if sales don’t have the bandwidth to support your programme, then your ABM programme is destined to fall flat.

So how to get started?

In some instances, a top-down directive might be enough incentive to get conversations and engagement going. If that fails, or you don’t have that luxury, we recommend you do the following:

  • Try to forge a sales and marketing partnership through constant involvement, discussion and clarity.
  • Sell the sizzle of what a fully functioning ABM programme can do (along with transparency around time and effort required).
  • Present findings – at Modern, we always seek to unearth certain insights around market trends, buyer personas, vertical or target account data that will be fresh insight, and will start to create a healthy foundation built on trust.
  • Throughout the time your programme is running, always have regular catch-ups with sales and marketing to communicate KPIs and performance clearly. This will help generate collaborative, fruitful conversations.

3. Get buy-in at senior leadership level

As we already hinted to above, the best way to start your programme – and make sure you have the co-operation of sales and business development – is to get your leadership team to provide the directive that will get things moving.

Of course you’ll also need them to provide the budget, and for this you’ll need some serious senior leadership level buy-in. For actionable advice on how to influence senior leadership and get them on-side, take a look at our guide to getting buy-in from the board.

So you’ve completed the checklist, what’s next?

If you aren’t able to complete the 3-point checklist above, my advice is don’t start your ABM programme until you can. If you do have the above three points in place, then congratulations! You are way on your way to generating growth from accounts that are likely to bolster your bottom line.

Find out more

At Modern, we work with global tech businesses who want to prove ABM as an approach that can deliver better results. Here’s how we helped Crimson secure a significant piece of business in the higher education vertical using a strategic ABM programme.

Need developing your strategy, designing your programme structure and devising the right process to meet your objectives? Get in touch.

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