8 ABM Takeaways From B2B Marketing's ABM: Align and Accelerate

Written by Lucy Jones

Nov 27 2019

What’s new, upcoming - and working - in ABM today? What lessons on the state of ABM did the Strategic IC team take away from B2B Marketing’s recent event?

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Image: Jo Robson (Acxiom) and Alex Embling (Strategic IC) presenting at ABM: Align and Accelerate. Full video of the seminar; 'How a Technology and Data Leader Built a Sales Pipeline in 120 Days' will be available soon.

Understanding ABM Today

Earlier this month, over 500 B2B marketers and ABM experts attended B2B Marketing’s ABM: Align and Accelerate Conference to uncover trends, share best practice case studies and outline upcoming trends, technologies and techniques in ABM. 

Across 28 keynote and speaker sessions, aspects of ABM, from sales & marketing alignment, to account definition, data & insight, to technology, programme & content execution were explored - providing lots of insight to take away and inform 2020 planning!

Related: What is Account-Based Marketing?

As one of those speakers, Strategic IC together with Acxiom, also showcased their successful intent-driven, blended ABM programme; ‘How a Technology and Data Leader Built a Sales Pipeline in 120 Days’.

Based on the day’s sessions and insight from leading B2B marketers, below are key takeaways and some ABM considerations for 2020 from members of the Strategic IC team who attended.

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8 Key Takeaways from B2B Marketing ABM: Align and Accelerate

1. You should consider data to inform account selection


It’s still surprising to find that very little time (and science) is behind account selection and targeting. We heard from many ABM practitioners that account selection is at the heart of successful ABM programmes (and ROI). Using a mix of first-party and third-party data, combined with work on Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Buyer Personae, can provide the laser targeting needed to form the cornerstone of a successful ABM programme.

Using a mix of first-party and third-party data, combined with work on Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Buyer Personae, can provide the laser targeting needed to form the cornerstone of a successful ABM programme.

2. One-to-many, One-to-few or One-to-one? The answer is all!


This was a recurring theme - which programme should I start with?

The reality is that the answer is all. A blended approach has a far greater chance of success when you combine two or more of these programme types.

Related: What is B2B Intent Data?

3. ABM needs to pervade the entire fabric of your organisation


ABM; it’s much more than just sales and marketing. Liverpool’s legendary football manager, Bill Shankly, once remarked “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.” The same can be said of ABM. It’s much more than just sales and marketing. ABM needs to pervade the entire fabric of your organisation - from customer success teams, to operations and to finance. Every department needs to have a say in ABM as it impacts everyone - much more important than just sales and marketing teams.

ABM needs to pervade the entire fabric of your organisation - from customer success teams, to operations and to finance.

4. Sales and Marketing alignment is key at every step of the ABM journey


Sales & marketing alignment is key - not just at execution but at almost every step of the journey. ABM isn’t just marketing transformation, it’s business transformation and works  to align around new and existing customer needs and expectations.

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5. It’s important to identify the right technology stack


Technology should be an enabler for all stakeholders but often it gets in the way. By putting strategy, data and insights first, you can identify the right technology stack for your ABM maturity level and business needs.

6. A blended ABM approach can help companies transition


According to Bev Burgess, One-to-few is a strong starting place for many organisations considering ABM, as opposed to one-to-one a few years back. However, as we saw in Alex Embling (Strategic IC) and Jo Robson’s (Acxiom) presentation ‘ABM In Action’; evaluating a blended approach between one-to-many and one-to-few helps the transition for companies that are traditionally lead / demand generation-centric and moving to an ABM driven metrics model.

Evaluating a blended approach between one-to-many and one-to-few helps the transition for companies that are traditionally lead / demand generation-centric and moving to an ABM driven metrics model.

7. ABM isn’t just about marketing, you need the whole organisation on board


To plan and execute a high performing ABM campaign (and build a future proof framework) you need to enable an organisation-wide understanding of an ABM initiative. That doesn’t just mean the CMO, CFO, and sales. The entire organisation must live and breathe ABM (or at least be aware of the plan). From product to customer service and IT - if you want to adopt a true ABM driven approach, you need every person and department that communicates in any way with your key accounts, to be aligned with your strategy. Otherwise, you may end up serving one message from marketing - and a conflicting one from customer success.

After all, it’s not only marketing that benefits from getting ABM right; the account team, the sales team, the wider business - and the customer will benefit from better working relationships with the right people, in the right places at the right times.

8. A pilot campaign can help secure buy-in


A number of sessions at the event highlighted the value of organisation-wide alignment on ABM, and explored ways of securing that wider buy-in as a foundational step for success. From trialing pilot campaigns, to showcasing case examples,  developing the right internal process and centre of excellence to driving scale and value over time, having an ABM showcase is a strong way to show results and build trust in the process ahead of a longer commitment. 

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