The 7 Proven Steps and the 3 Biggest Myths of ABM


Guest Post by Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder at Engagio

ABM continues to deliver a higher ROI than other marketing activities (according to 87% of B2B marketers), and it only gets better over time. The ITSMA found that companies with ABM programs running for more than two years were twice as likely to see higher ROI.

In the last three years, we’ve seen Account Based Marketing in action across a wide range of B2B organization, and we’re more convinced than ever that this is the way virtually all big deals will be won and grown in B2B marketing

We hope the second edition of The Clear and Complete Guide to ABM helps you to realize these incredible benefits in an easy-to-follow, helpful way. Happy Reading, and let us know what you think!

The Seven Process of Account Based Marketing

When you look at the most successful ABM practitioners, a pattern emerges. Most ABM journeys follow a seven-step process.

1 – Select Account: Align sales and marketing around a list of target accounts most likely to deliver revenue.

2 –Identify people: Fill out these accounts and buying contacts for key personas based on your ideal buyer profiles.

3 – Develop account insights: Learn what matters at each account so that your interactions are relevant and resonant.

4 – Generate account-relevant messages and content:  Create or adapt content and messaging that reflects your account insight and is targeted specifically at the buying teams in each account.

5 – Deliver account-specific interactions: Manage targeted interactions that are personalized for each account.

6 – Orchestrate account-focused plays: Synchronize interactions into coordinated plays that align to account plans and goals.

7 – Measure account progress: Report on the impact of ABM efforts in terms of account engagement, impact on pipeline and revenue, and program ROI.

We can’t go through how to do each of the seven processes in detail in a blog post, but what we can (and will) do is cover the things to avoid.

The Three Biggest ABM Myths

ABM Myth #1: Buying ABM Technology Means You’re Doing ABM

ABM is not a tactic, tool or campaign, but rather an entire go-to-market strategy.A tool doesn’t make a strategy. You must put strategy first, then figure out which tools, tactics, and campaigns will best support that strategy.

That said, ABM is very hard to do without certain technologies. In our updated guide to Account Based Marketing, I’ve laid out a map containing all of the ABM vendors and the category in which they belong.

However, you don’t need to buy technology from each category to do Account Based Marketing! You can dip your toe in the water with a relatively modest investment in new technology, and then add more solutions to help scale over time.

Here are the foundational technologies you need for ABM:

  • CRM
  • Marketing automation
  • Lead-to-account matching (L2A)
  • Engagement measurement

The other ABM tools in their respective categories will enhance your ABM, but don’t think that if you don’t have them, you can’t do ABM. You can still send direct mail, hold executive events and even launch targeted ads without ABM technology.

Use the tools and technologies that you already have, but create a more targeted message and deliver it to a more targeted list.

ABM Myth #2: You Must Choose Between ABM or Demand Gen
ABM and Demand generation are not mutually exclusive strategies. In fact, when you combine the two, they have a multiplier effect.

When you’re doing ABM correctly, you have a defined list of target accounts that you are proactively going after. However, there are still plenty of accounts that are not on your target account list that will do business with you. Therefore, having “air cover” via demand generation is important for maximizing your marketing efforts.

Very rarely in B2B marketing, should you be doing ABM and not demand gen, or vice versa.

The challenge is figuring out your mix. Just like there is a spectrum for balancing content personalization, there is a spectrum for balancing ABM and Demand Gen. As a general rule of thumb, the larger and more complex your deals, the more you will rely on ABM. On the other end of the spectrum, the smaller your deals, the more you need to rely on volume, thus, you will need to invest more in demand gen.

At Engagio, even though we’re an ABM platform, our marketing team still executes demand gen campaigns. We sell to companies in the mid-market and the enterprise. We don’t believe in doing just inbound or outbound, but rather we take an “allbound” approach.

ABM Myth #3: You Must Get Rid of MQLs and Replace it with MQAs

There’s no doubt that you’re familiar with Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) but if you’re not familiar with Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs), here’s a quick definition.

When you move from a lead-centric approach (i.e., traditional demand gen) to an account-based approach (i.e., ABM), the metrics you track will also change. The challenge arises when you ask marketers to forget about MQLs – arguably the most important metric for marketers – and implement MQAs.

This is a big ask. In fact, we actually don’t recommend it. This disrupts your entire funnel, which will have far-reaching implications for everyone involved.

Rather than replacing MQLs with MQAs, we recommend implementing both. In other words, don’t reinvent your funnel. Personally, I love the approach that RollWorks takes with their “double funnel.”

According to RollWorks, “this double funnel approach helps you create organic demand for your products, while also identifying target accounts and providing them with a customized experience via account-based tactics. In a well oiled ABM program, marketers evaluate target accounts on an ongoing basis, with new high-intent accounts from the inbound demand gen funnel added as they are identified and qualified.”

This approach allows you to maximize both strategies by implementing ABM while managing inbound accounts, expressing intent, but are not necessarily on your named account list.

Beyond the ABM Hype

You’ve heard the hype all year, and there’s little doubt that Account Based Marketing is red hot. ABM is the next big thing in B2B marketing has arrived.

Now, it’s time to stop talking and start doing Account Based Marketing. Download The Clear and Complete Guide to ABM for the most current and comprehensive guide on the subject.