My Favorite Lesson About ABM from #B2BSMX

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Talk of ABM permeated my B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange experience, from the opening keynote (“ABM Is B2B” by Sangram Vajre, Chief Evangelist, Terminus) to lunchtime conversation with peers to the B2B Innovator Awards.

My overall impression after the conference is that ABM has evolved into a flexible strategy for targeting contacts or accounts to lock in engagement and/or accelerate the purchase journey. How do you do it? It depends. There’s no secret sauce, but those who have been successful build campaigns with achievable short-term goals and a long-term strategy.

My favorite lesson came during a three-person panel discussion about ABM and company goals: “There is no normal yet for ABM,” Michele Liro, VP of Demand Gen at PTC, said at the conclusion of the panel, which also included Nick Wassenberg, Director of Global Marketing, Digital River; and Daniel Sims, Sr. Director of Demand Gen at RedPoint Global.

ABM Is Different for Different Types of Companies.

I had the same observation as Liro many times during the conference. It started with Vajre’s keynote message. His point of view is that ABM is not a “type” of B2B marketing but rather a better way to do B2B marketing that should be fully embraced as an end-to-end strategy. This makes sense to me for a company like Terminus, but starting out small and building over time is also a good approach, especially for older companies with more entrenched sales and marketing infrastructure.

That’s how ABM started at PTC, a 34-year-old global software company that has expanded through multiple acquisitions as innovations such as the IoT disrupted its market. Starting ABM at a company like this is going to be a different experience than starting it at a small, digital-native company like Terminus. For larger, more traditional companies, identifying where efforts are most likely to receive support and have the fewest hurdles is important, because success is vital to build credibility for the ABM concept.

Maturity of company and market could also influence goals. For young, growing companies, net new logos are often the top priority because they build value through growing the user base, while mature companies might need to focus on optimizing existing sales and marketing processes — and the insight from data within those processes. But sometimes, it’s a mix of both.

Digital River, a 25-year-old company that has also grown through multiple acquisitions, is using ABM to engage new logos. But understanding intent of those buyers is also critical.

“One critical piece of our business model is to grow new business and expand what people buy over time,” Wassenberg said. “But we need to know, ‘When is that account going to be ready to buy?’ Strategic timing for the accounts is key to us.”

ABM Takes Time to Plan and to Succeed.

One repeated phrase about ABM is that it takes time to build a successful program. Even if initial results are better than expected, this doesn’t guarantee continued success. Many companies try different strategies in an effort to identify an optimal mix.

At PTC, the focus was on accelerating qualified leads through renewed engagement. Early efforts included creating content for single accounts, and then they added ABM programs with hundreds of accounts. Liro’s team also limited early efforts to North America, because it was easiest to start with English.

As they did more, the team started targeting by industry, which aligns with the company’s growth strategy. Finally, willingness of sales team members to be involved was another factor that influenced where ABM would be implemented and where it has expanded.

Liro said one way to demonstrate progress as you build up optimal ABM capabilities is to provide interim metrics to executives that show progress toward the greater goal — especially with high-revenue deals that can take months to years to clinch.

Itching to get started? Check out “ABM Workout Plan: A Crawl, Walk, Run Approach to Obtaining Buyer Data.” Content4Demand works with companies at every level of experience with ABM to help create, tune and execute successful ABM campaigns. Let us know if we can help you get started or take your strategy to the next level.

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