More and more, B2B marketers are deciding to make account-based programs a primary focus for their marketing. In ITSMA’s 2023 study, it was determined that ABM was the #1 marketing priority for those surveyed, with an average of 28% of the 2022 marketing budget being dedicated to account-based marketing (ABM).
While many marketers know the importance of ABM today, companies still vary when it comes to the extent that they invest in these campaigns. The good news is that it’s possible for any team to implement account-based programs into their marketing - as long as they know how to fund & staff according to their spot in the ABM journey.
Why are so many companies continuing to invest in ABM?
Under-resourced account-based marketing teams often run into some common problems that can inhibit success. For example, marketers end up taking on ABM on top of their other responsibilities and may have too many hats to wear. It's also difficult to create account-based programs that deliver real value to the buyer and enable your sales team without dedicated budget. Simply put, if given too few resources, initial programs can miss initial expectations and hurt credibility.
But don’t worry! We can make sure you have the right strategy at each stage of your account-based journey so that you not only turn (and keep) the lights on but also get the attention you deserve for an ABM strategy that truly scales.
Before we start figuring out your next steps, let’s take a minute to see where you fall on the ABM readiness assessment for resources. Then, find the section that applies to you to see how to uplevel your account-based program.
Exploring and Developing
Starting with a pilot program is a strategic way to test the impact of an ABM strategy and gather the information you’ll need to get more buy-in for programs. According to ITSMA, 46% of ABM programs are in an experimenting phase that includes piloting, measuring, and refining the approach When it comes to budget, start by advocating for a percentage of the demand generation budget to test and provide air cover for the sales team based on your ICP.
Building your account-based tribe
Begin building the internal team of stakeholders who are supportive of taking an account-based approach. Gather a mix of people across functions (e.g., sales, marketing, operations) and at various levels of the organization (e.g., executive sponsors, front-line managers, individual contributors).
If you’ve been running a pilot, start to collect leadership sponsors who will later be your advocates for allocating more ABM resources. To continue selling the concept of ABM, schedule regular check-ins to share progress around specific metrics and learnings. This will create the foundation you need to build future alignment with the business’s long-term goals.
Meet with sales often
Front-line sales executives, account managers, SDRs, and sales engineers are all important stakeholders. Marketers can learn a lot from those who speak with customers every day, and since B2B marketers don’t typically close big deals directly, you need sales to be bought in on the value of your ABM campaigns. Collect insights about the questions they’re being asked and the problems they’re trying to solve, and incorporate that information into the content and touchpoints for your program.
In this stage, you’ll likely begin to have more leadership buy-in and therefore more budget and resources, which will require you to expand your reach for team-wide support. While this can feel overwhelming for even the best marketer, we have a few frameworks that will help you navigate building an account-based leadership team.
Forming an account-based leadership team with a small group of key executives can serve two important functions:
- Help align your account-based initiative to the business and its long-term growth goals
- Ensure that account-based programs get the resources and support needed from various teams
Secure a set budget
While you may have been working with a pilot earlier in your ABM rollout, this is the time to scope a fully dedicated budget for your program. This should be owned by the marketing manager and clearly defined to leadership. Many marketers in this stage have a set target account list that may be tiered based on a variety of factors. This is one method for organizing how you allocate marketing dollars toward programs. Top-tier accounts often receive more high-investment touches, while lower-tier accounts may receive your “always-on” spend. This is unique to each team, but ultimately you’ll begin to have a more strategic budgeting process.
Your organization has allocated dedicated people and budget to your account-based effort, which is sure to lead to better results!
Even those lucky enough to have great support for account-based marketing still have a finite budget, so it’s always important to allocate resources thoughtfully. This often means that you’ll need to get creative. Remix existing content and reuse components from existing assets to personalize creative even more (e.g., to make it more relevant to a segment, such as a vertical).
Are you switching or scaling?
Talk with any marketer doing account-based, and you’ll quickly see a trend: most haven’t targeted both customers and prospects or run every type of account-based program, nor have they cracked the code on how to further scale their programs.
When a company’s average deal size warrants it, Gartner’s research shows that enterprise companies doing 1:1 account-based programs can spend at least $50,000 on each account annually. The majority of marketers today focus on building 1:Few programs as a way to build efficiency and scale. Keep this in mind as you advocate for more budget and resources.
The ABM Readiness Assessment
ABM readiness, also called account-based readiness, is a spectrum we’ve developed alongside Gartner to help marketers understand how precise and robust their current account-based programs are. While there are many elements to your account-based strategy, Gartner's research and our hands-on customer experience point to only four categories that really matter: target accounts, resources, execution, and measurement. While we've taken you through resources today, you'll need to understand your readiness in all categories to have the most robust ABM strategy.
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