5 steps for building a recession proof ABM program

To succeed in this competitive market, you need to optimize your ABM strategy. Here are five steps to get you started.

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Looking to get off the treadmill of producing what seems like never-ending content and feeding the ABM machine hoping you get a hit? Tired of anonymous and/or intent data that produces few results? 

In today’s challenging economic environment, your program has to work better than ever. Casting a wide net in a sea with fewer fish will be less productive. It’s time to build a proactive and targeted program, and it will require some work. Here are five steps to get you started on your way to building a market-ready ABM program. 

1. Target specific people and accounts

Because it’s called account-based marketing, you need to have actual accounts identified. Additionally, you’ll need to have a list of key targets within the account. Forget trying to figure out anonymous hits on your website or content. Invest in getting the list built.

2. Know who — and what — is important

Not all prospects matter. The ones you are most likely to engage with are not the most important. One will be active and the other passive. Not all responses or engagements are important either. 

To know the difference between the two, you will need to profile the personality type of your targets. Doing so will allow you to gain valuable insight into the type of people you’re dealing with and the corporate culture. 

3. Use the ‘friendlies’ to get to the real buyers

We’re in an economic environment of “if it’s not broken, it will not get fixed” unless you find the pain. Forget about targeting the C-suite and go for the users. 

Get to the people who have the need, not the decision-makers. For that group, there is no decision to make yet. You have to build the case and surface the need. 

4. Build the business case

Once you have this insight, talk less about your solution and more about relieving the pain specifically to that account. It will also need to be as close to the business’s core operation as possible. 

Can you help reduce cost, improve revenue, make employees more productive, etc.? We are in a “have to have,” not a “nice to have” buying environment. This is where sales and marketing have to come together. 

Dig deeper: Managing the unpredictable: Getting marketing, sales and operations aligned

5. Communicate it back

Once you have the business case, you need to communicate back to the key targets in the account in a language that connects with them personally. To move the buying process forward, you need to get the right people to take action. 

You’re looking for a way to motivate them, and this is where knowing their personality type comes into play. You can create offers and marketing assets that are highly personalized and create action. 

Think of this approach in two parts — a front end and a back end. You will have to “make orders” versus “take orders,” as they say. (Could I possibly use more cliches?!)

The front piece is discovering or creating the pain, which requires tight integration between sales and marketing. 

The back end is communicating and selling the pain. You’ll need to find a way to motivate the organization on three levels — corporate, line of business and at the individual level — to get a deal through the organization. This will be true for acquisition and existing accounts.

Collecting information on the front end should give you the insight to build the messaging and business case on the back end. And again, this takes a coordinated approach between sales and marketing. 

Dig deeper: All about account based marketing strategy

Building a recession-proof ABM program

It’s a difficult market, so you must work smarter and harder. This isn’t about more tools or increased scale. It’s about identifying the right opportunities and leveraging them efficiently. Now, if it was just that easy. 


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Scott Gillum
Scott is the Founder and CEO of Carbon Design. Prior to founding Carbon Design, he was the President of the Washington, DC office for Merkle (a Dentsu agency), the world’s largest B2B agency.

His career follows the pipeline. Starting at the bottom closing deals as a sales rep. Then as a management consultant after graduate school, helping clients build sales and marketing channels. Advertising broadened his knowledge and experience in building brands and creating awareness.

Along the way, he’s been the head of marketing for an Inc. 500 company, and an interim CMO for a Fortune 500 company. Today, Scott helps clients improve the effectiveness of their marketing efforts up and down the funnel. From transitioning to digital to finding new ways to communicate, connect, and motivate audiences.

Scott has been a member of the Gartner for Marketing Leaders Council and he writes a monthly column for several publications on business marketing.  In the past, he has been a regular contributor to publications such as Forbes, Fortune, Adage, the Huffington Post and he has contributed to various books on marketing. Additionally, his work on sales and marketing integration was made into a Harvard Business School Case Study and is taught at leading business schools across the nation.

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