Last week’s Marketing Innovation Summit by Demandbase in San Francisco featured a great discussion amongst B2B marketers who are at various stages of developing, adopting and execution account-based marketing (ABM) programs to support their sales goals.  It was an honor to address the Profit Center Marketing opportunity inherent for modern marketers, with or without adopting ABM.

There were numerous important discussions around account selection, setting objectives, working with sales, campaign and play execution and much more.  But there were three critical ABM discussions I didn’t hear often enough, areas that in our opinion could make or break whether an organization succeeds with their ABM efforts.

Consideration for the complex internal buying committee
The vast majority of the current discussion about ABM targeting is on the right accounts, and clearly that’s a good first step.  But equally important is understanding how your buyer’s buy, and understanding just who inside the organization will be actively involved in the buying decision.  According to CEB there are on average 6.8 people involved in that internal buying committee at mid-market and enterprise companies.  Who are the decision-makers, influencers and stakeholders? What do they care about individually and how do they work together to make decisions? What do they have in common and where do they disagree?

Understanding and applying these nuances is key to driving the internal velocity and consensus necessary to get your deals done more quickly and consistently.

Opportunities to impact customer lifetime value
Too often we B2B marketers put the majority of our focus on driving net-new customers and short-change the opportunity to improve customer lifetime value after the sale.  I’m seeing this weighting evident in ABM now as well.

It would be easy to argue that customer lifetime value is where you should start ABM programs.  What revenue impact would retaining your best customers, your biggest customers, have on your business in the next 12 months?

A phased implementation approach
ABM isn’t all or nothing.  You don’t need to implement an entire, comprehensive program right away.  Early adopters of ABM, especially those who have stuck with it and are seeing significant success, started small.  They tested with a percentage of their target accounts, or a portion of the sales team.  They focused on building momentum based on early results, which also helped them get ABM programs into execution mode quicker.

Full-force ABM will require new tools, greater investments.  But you can start with account selection, internal buying committee understanding, and simply better coordination/messaging/execution between sales and marketing.

Much more to come in the ABM discussion as we continue into the spring B2B event season with this week’s TOPO Summit, Marketo Summit and Modern Marketing Experience later this month, SiriusDecisions Summit next month and more.