Yesterday we had the chance to help produce ABM by the Numbers—an educational event dedicated to account-based marketing best practices. Here are our top takeaways.
“Account-based marketing” is all the rage right now. As those who are practicing ABM know, it’s much more than a buzzword: ABM has the potential to radically streamline go-to-market operations and accelerate the sales cycle. Likewise, those who practice ABM know that it is also much less than an established marketing science.
That’s why we were proud to help produce another educational event as a member of the ABM Leadership Alliance (ABMLA).
ABMLA is a consortium of leading ABM technology providers who are working together to provide B2B marketers with the educational and networking opportunities necessary to support the launch, execution, optimization, and scaling of ABM strategies.
The ABMLA event is not about product pitches. It’s about providing our customers with a platform to share the challenges that they are encountering and the creative solutions they have engineered to turn those challenges into ABM successes.
Or as one member quipped during his presentation: It’s an ABM support group.
The promise of ABM is huge—enabling sales and marketing teams to work together so that they are focusing on the right audience with the right message at the right time—however, ABM is still very much a new frontier.
With 8 passionate speakers, 100 in-person attendees, and 700 registered remote attendees at this event, it was very clear that there is an appetite to know more about ABM.
Here are our top takeaways from ABM by the Numbers, Boston:
1. Focus on groups, not individuals
While it’s necessary to understand the activity of your contacts, the true power of ABM comes from looking at the activity of groups.
After all, buying is seldom the decision of one person. It’s the resulting outcome of a network of individuals who are communicating with one another at different stages of the buying journey. While one person might carry a lot of weight, a sale typically requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders.
As Sherrie Mersdorf (VP of Marketing at Evariant) put it, “I’m much more interested when three people do one thing than when one person does three things.”
From Sherrie Mersdorf’s presentation.
2. Bring sales into the conversation early and often
The general consensus is that it’s pretty much impossible to pull off a successful ABM strategy if you’re not aligning early and often with your sales team.
Sherrie from Evariant stressed the importance of finding leaders in sales (and across the company) that are passionate about ABM.
Kathryn Levin (Demand Activation and Sales Enablement Strategy Leader at KPMG) spoke on the importance of having marketing teams provide sales teams with necessary sales enablement collateral and coverage around targeted accounts.
At KPMG, Kathryn regularly holds meetings with key stakeholders on both the marketing and sales team to analyze metrics and course correct.
Adam May (Marketing Manager, ABM at Thomson Reuters) spoke on the value of marketers putting themselves in the shoes of sales teams when pushing ABM adoption. “If we come to the table talking about the wrong things,” said Adam, “it’s not going to work.”
When hiring for an ABM team, Adam also mentioned that it’s important to find hires who have experience working with sales teams e.g. strong demand generation or field marketers.
Adam May speaking at ABM by the Numbers Boston.
3. Integrations are key
Across the board, the speakers at ABM by the Numbers agreed that a couple of things are essential: Investing in tools that enable the tracking data and integrating these tools together.
To have a better understanding of your target accounts and the target accounts that comprise them, you need to be able to track their activities across your company's touchpoints: webinars, events, website visits, emails, and so on.
You then need to centralize this data in your system of record and then—to yield even richer insights—pipe this data into a data visualization tool.
At the same time, a few of the speakers cautioned about crowding their tech stacks with too many systems.
Alice Fackre, VP of Marketing at District Management illustrated this with a slide depicting the tools that she relies on for centralizing her ABM data.
Alice Fackre presenting at ABM by the Numbers - Boston.
4. Determine your atomic metric
Sales pipeline, qualified accounts, deals closed—these are all great lagging indicators to help determine whether or not a marketing strategy is paying off. But to get a quicker picture of which messages and mediums are resonating with the right audiences, you need to find a leading metric.
At Localytics, Mark Feldman (Head of Revenue Operations) and Silas Larson (Seniror Manager of Revenue Operations at Localytics used their ABM solution Engagio to come up with the metric of “minutes.”
Any experienced demand gen marketer knows that a webinar registration is typically weighted more highly than a blog post page visit. The webinar registration signals a strong intent to engage with a brand whereas a blog post visit may just serve as the quick end-visit.
Mark and Silas ascribed each activity a minute score that’s weighted by a contact’s decision-making power.
They then took this metric to the next level by combining it with marketing budget spend to pin-point which activities were driving the highest return on engagement (ROE).
Rather than waiting till late in the sales cycle to assess their ABM strategy, Mark and Silas could quickly determine how effective a given metric was in speaking to a target audience. As a result, they could coordinate with their marketing and sales teams to adapt quickly.
The Revenue Operations team from Localytics presents on ROE.
5. Take incremental steps
Casey Cheshire—Founder and DMO of Cheshire Impact which consults businesses on executing ABM strategies—spoke on the importance of taking small steps and being patient with the process. “Don’t get too detailed too quickly,” he cautioned.
He emphasized the importance of looking at trends instead of end results—echoing the system that Mark and Silas set up, and the recommendations of many of the other speakers.
Implementing a new marketing model is no small potatoes. It requires alignment across teams, determining new metrics, implementing new tools, and a focused eye on what’s working and what’s not working.
6. You are not alone
This last point was driven home by Vidyard’s VP of Development, Kevin O’Brien.
If nothing else, know this: whether you are planning to implement or are already implementing an ABM strategy, you have a wide network of peers who are also trying to figure it out.
You can follow @ABMLA1 on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in ABM, you can join the LinkedIn group or—best of all—you can meet up with your peers in-person at the next ABMLA event.
But don’t just count on us. If there’s not an ABMLA event in your community happening anytime soon, we encourage you to go and build something yourself. Start a meet-up, create a Slack group, ask your peers what they’re up to. Take the incremental steps.
Looking for more resources on how to incorporate your ABM strategy to your events program? Check out Bizzabo's Account-Based Marketing For Events eBook for a deep dive on ABM-powered events.