What is ABM?
Account Based Marketing is a high-impact demand-generation program aimed at our largest and most desirable prospects, as defined by Sales.
What’s the difference between ABM and traditional demand gen?
Because ABM prospects are larger, it takes longer to move them into our funnel. The sales cycle is longer, often 12 to 18 months. The buying committee is larger, with multiple roles for users, managers, corporate, and influencers. Prospecting to a large account requires a perfect collaboration between sales and marketing to make the program run smoothly. ABM is a long-term commitment—it takes time to identify the buying committee, determine their pain points, develop content addressing these pain points, track progress for each target, and plan the ten or more touches it will take to convert each member of the committee to consider your product or service. Keep in mind that some of the touches will be from marketing, others from sales.
Important: Don’t stop your regular efforts. These will be your bread-and-butter leads to keep your salespeople busy while you’re working on ABM to attract the whales.
How do I justify the cost of an ABM program?
Run the numbers for a 2-year pilot, and annually after that. In two years, your ABM investment should return at least a 200 percent revenue ROI, based on converting a small number of these large accounts, or it’s not worth undertaking. Keep in mind that with ABM you are developing a scalable program that (if it works for you) will be a permanent part of your marketing. Build your case around that.
Note: Because the sales cycle is so long, you should not expect a return on investment the first year.
How do I train the sales force to follow up on the ABM leads?
Make sure the sales team you assign to ABM are qualified and eager to pursue the leads from the program. Build compensation incentives to motivate them to follow up and report any contact with any prospect from your target companies. If you have more than one team following up, make them competitive, with a bonus to the winner(s).
Assign the corporate leads to salespeople who are comfortable around the C-suite and understand their needs.
What kind of management reports should I undertake?
Monthly reports (one paragraph should be enough) to management should sum up the month’s accomplishments and progress to date. Make sure to mention the names of the prospects you are targeting. Management will recognize the names, and when you finally land one of these whales, management will associate the win with the program.
What goes into the funding request?
- Program scope (2-year pilot)
- Target audience examples
- 2-year revenue goal
- 2-year budget requirement
- 2-year ROI
- Milestones and KPIs
- Personnel requirements
- Tech stack requirements
- Governance and oversight
What can I do to get ready to begin an ABM program?
Talk to an agency (ahem!) like Verdi, who can help with your planning and has experienced both successful programs and—more importantly—can tell you what can go wrong. And start thinking about the accounts you want in your pilot. It’s never too early to plan your list acquisition strategy.
Now that you’ve read the article, download a one-page Verdi timeline of an ABM pilot, showing milestones. And next: Talk to Verdi about how to plan a successful ABM program for your organization. Simply reply to this email, or book time with Mary Bonaccio, Verdi’s Director of Client Services.