What Does an ABM Journey Experience Feels Like in 2020?

My fellow marketers, I’d like to ask you a question: Are you stuck?

Do you feel like you and your team are stuck in traditional B2B marketing? Let me explain.

For roughly six years, I’ve led the marketing team at 3Play Media and honed my skills with inbound marketing. I became an expert in this strategy, as this was the one our company had chosen to pursue. It was working for the most part and helping to fuel our growth, but we began to see some holes in the approach over time.

Simply put, we were stuck. We decided to change to an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy about one year ago and are already seeing the progress we had hoped for. I want to share our story, to help you, other marketers who have become accustomed to the status quo but need a positive shock to your strategic system. There’s hope for change, and I believe it’s in the form of ABM.

Before starting with ABM, much of our pipeline came from inbound marketing and sales opportunities. We had nailed down our Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) but began to see that we weren’t getting access to many of these companies through inbound efforts. We wanted to be more proactive and started evaluating ways to reach more high-fit customers. After much research and discussion, we decided that ABM was a promising option to meet our goals.

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Luckily for us, our executives rallied around this strategic shift and supported us fully. Of course, the budget conversations are a little bit trickier than garnering buy-in at a macro level was. I led our marketing team to make a business case for the ABM technology we needed (we chose Engagio, which is now Demandbase). We couldn’t show our leadership team proven results, so there was some natural hesitation. But we ultimately made a strong case that making the tech investment upfront would be crucial in achieving our goals and executing our newly set strategy.

The biggest challenge in the ABM journey is that we encountered was the mindset shift required to go from inbound marketing to ABM. The former model is focused on contacts and individuals, while the latter deals with accounts. We knew what the change entailed, but the reality of all the associated small changes that had to come in systems operations was a big transition. Our reporting needed to be viewed and delivered very differently, reporting on accounts with individual contacts rolling up to those accounts, rather than on contacts individually. We had to work hard to set up accounts in our platform in a reliable way when we had previously been solely focused on contacts.

Once we got through this initial learning curve, ABM quickly became a game-changer. We loved the clear insight into engagement Engagio gave us at the account level and how it helped us identify spikes in engagement so we could jump on those opportunities and take action right in the platform. It completely changed the way we sell and market. When Engagio merged with Demandbase earlier this year, we were excited to access some of the tools that Demandbase offered. For example, we were thrilled to start using Demandbase’s intent data to shape our prospecting. When the new unified platform is released shortly, we feel very confident it will empower our efforts even more completely.

Right now, we’re about a year into our ABM journey, but we have a long sales cycle. So we’re starting to see deals close, but we know we’ll have a lot more to speak to in terms of revenue attributable to ABM in a couple more months. What we have seen already, though, is that ABM has created a great deal of team alignment and professional development in outbound marketing and account-based selling. It’s generated conversations and interest in companies we never would’ve reached with our past inbound approach. The responses, and meetings, and opportunities we’ve generated wouldn’t have existed without our switch to ABM.

My advice to others in the B2B space is to carefully consider a tailored ABM strategy to suit your business objectives, especially if you’re without a significant outbound marketing engine. ABM can be so impactful in marketing to outbound prospects. It also provides insight into marketing’s real-time impact on engagement, so you can trigger sales outreach at exactly the right time. That relevancy is game-changing. If you’re already practicing ABM, there are countless opportunities to improve and win with the strategy, and we’re proof that committing to it and following through eliminates stagnancy and brings big results.

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