Bob Peterson is the Research Director in the Account-Based Marketing category at SiriusDecisions. On September 13th, at the Revere Hotel in Boston, MA, he will be presenting at ZoomInfo’s first annual Growth Acceleration Summit.

In anticipation of his keynote, we sat down with Bob to talk about everything account-based marketing.

In a general sense, where does ABM stand today?

As a strategy, account-based marketing (ABM) is still in its infant stage. That’s not to say organizations are not already experiencing tremendous success from its implementation, though. From opportunity creation, acquisition, and even existing customer relationships, our conversations with sales and marketing leadership indicate astounding proof of concept.

For some color, one organization has told us that since implementing ABM, they’ve seen their pipeline grow by 200%. Another said the strategy has led to a 20% increase in average deal size.

Going back to my initial statement about its relative infancy, we believe there is so much room for ABM to grow in both its prevalence and effectiveness. Again, we know it works; but because ABM focuses on “who” (the account) to engage, the question of “how” is something organizations are figuring out.

That’s why ABM is still so green. And as we see more existing sales and marketing technologies shift their offerings to support ABM initiatives, organizations will have more opportunities to strategically pilot and score which channels are best to engage targeted accounts.

Given the ABM success stories from SiriusDecisions customers, do you see its adoption growing?

Absolutely. Our research indicates almost three out of four B2B organizations are increasing budgets for ABM initiatives. Keep in mind, in some cases organizations plan to raise their spend by more than 30% compared to last year.

Let’s shift gears. After all, it can’t be all clear blue skies and smelly roses. So, why do some organizations fail at ABM?

That’s true, ABM success does not occur overnight, and some organizations may give up before reaping the payoff. Why? Well, the answer is more complicated than the sentiment of “if it was easy, then everyone would do it.”

My personal opinion – and this is not meant to sound like hyperbole – is that the departmental collaboration, commitment and discipline the strategy requires cannot be overstated. Frankly, its implementation requires a top-to-bottom organizational paradigm shift that stakeholders within organizations may not be ready to make.

  • Executive leadership must understand that ABM requires coordinated, customized treatment that bears fruit over the long term.
  • Sales leadership must commit to an account-centric ecosystem, via central ownership, with support from the rest of the company.
  • Finally, marketing must provide end-to-end support in planning, execution, and enablement. This means helping with the account targeting process to develop a list of target accounts by working with sales to determine what insight and criteria dictates qualification, and then creating custom one-to-one, personalized content that speaks to those specific accounts.

How about we finish with where to begin: Pretend I’m a leader at an organization who comes to you with dreams of kick-starting an ABM program. Where do I begin?

Removing the aforementioned commitment from the equation, as your ABM strategy starts to come to fruition, there will be a myriad of technologies to consider that support ongoing sales outreach. Channel-based solutions and tactics include display and retargeting advertising, marketing automation, social listening tools, website personalization, and progressive profiling, and more. But those investments can wait.

Instead, start by identifying what type of ABM strategy fits your sales process, as it exists today. From SiriusDecisions’ perspective, we see four common models ABM utilizes:

Large Account: very small number of large existing or targeted accounts

Named Account: Moderate or larger number of defined existing or targeted accounts

Industry/Segment: Moderate or larger number of new or existing targeted accounts in the same vertical

Customer Lifecycle: Moderate or larger number of existing customers that receive differentiated outreach

After sales and marketing define the criteria that confirms an account’s eligibility to enter your program, at a bare bones minimum, you’ll need B2B contact and account data to identify, connect with, and engage appropriate buyer personas within the targeted organization.

Remember, though, technology is just one of the four foundational elements of your ABM house. In order to build an effective ABM strategy, you also need to consider whether sales and marketing have the necessary skills, alignment, and insights to succeed.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our contact database can scale your sales and marketing efforts today.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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