Why ABM has become a critical strategy for B2B marketers
As more organizations hop on the Account-Based Marketing bandwagon, columnist Sonjoy Ganguly discusses the underlying reasons it's becoming a necessity in the B2B marketing space.
At least 62 percent of B2B companies surveyed this year have a full Account-Based Marketing (ABM) program in place, compared with 41 percent in 2016, according to SiriusDecisions. Those who have found religion when it comes to ABM would even say it’s mission-critical.
That same SiriusDecisions survey reports that 91 percent of the respondents stated that their average deal sizes are larger for ABM accounts than for non-ABM accounts. Yet, despite their belief in it, not all marketers are taking the practice to its full potential.
As the space continues to evolve, it’s key to understand the underlying reasons for ABM’s popularity. Starting with revenue pressure and a certain cultural shift, organizations are coming to terms with sales and marketing alignment (and focusing on finally achieving this). The triggers are real and largely responsible for the ABM innovation we are seeing now.
Under revenue pressure
The number one reason that ABM has become so critical in the B2B marketing space is that pressure on revenue is nail-bitingly greater than ever before. Competition is rising, and customer expectations for products and services continue to heighten.
In a dynamic marketplace, acquisition, retention and sales revenue goals stretch year over year, if not quarter over quarter. It never stops. This revenue focus is not just for sales, but marketing is feeling that pressure even more than before.
This renewed aligned focus on revenue creates the clear need for precision tools that all sales and marketing teams can use to operate in a very targeted way and at scale.
Most organizations realize that sales and marketing still have room to improve on how they are aligned (or not) to thrive in that high-stakes revenue-charging reality. Sales has traditionally been regarded as more directly on the pulse of the market, with marketing being more indirect — with each kind of owning their station and perhaps judging the other on its role in the process and in delivering the goods.
But the feedback loop between the two is vital. Joint pursuit of shared objectives is necessary to deliver and to prove marketing’s value in the revenue chain.
Collaborating on data
So, how does this alignment and a more effective, productive operating mode happen? Today, teams who are getting on board with hardcore ABM are jointly getting deeper into data, getting real about collaboration — recognizing that it’s not just about passing data to sales; it’s about working together to change operating models.
It’s about analyzing data, adjusting models accordingly, and then enabling sales to take action based on that data. Gone are the days of mere campaign-level metrics. The analysis, and then the action and optimization around content marketing and nurturing, has to happen at the account level.
Let’s consider how this would work in a practical situation. First, marketing is providing sales access to new models of data. Sales has to think beyond the traditional data points and start thinking about second-level metrics like media engagement and research patterns as models for measuring exposure and interest.
The most effective organizations expose that data to sales via integrations with their CRM (customer relationship management) systems. But they also establish weekly discussions to review this data with marketing and sales around the top accounts for the week — those that are getting the most reach and engagement, those that are showing the most interest — and examine the topics gaining the most interest. Then, they can work together to craft messaging strategies and priorities.
The consensus sale represents another pressure point on this market shift. As buying committees are growing in size and diversity, it’s important for marketers to now think about the entire account, instead of traditionally focusing on individuals within their target organization. This broader reach requires sales and marketing to work more closely together to help engage a more diverse audience in an integrated approach.