Early ABM adopters who are seeing success with their initiatives share a common, long-term commitment to the practice and demonstrate a willingness to rethink their go-to-market strategies in areas such as data management, content production, nurturing and targeting, according to new research from TechTarget and Heinz Marketing. However, the study finds that many ABM practitioners are struggling to prove its worth. Only one-third (33%) of respondents said their ABM programs are meeting and/or exceeding expectations.
The research, which surveyed nearly 260 B2B sales and marketing professionals across a variety of industries, shows that those who make ABM a long-term commitment and are willing to make organizational changes see results. Specifically, among those who are meeting and/or exceeding expectations:
“When I say there’s a cultural gap between the folks who succeed and those who don’t, part of that is this ability to make ABM a commitment,” said Steinert. “ABM is not a campaign. It is many campaigns and iterations of campaigns that take learning about what is working, what isn’t working and reinvesting in that commitment.”
This may explain why company size and budget do not necessarily translate into ABM success. In fact, while people may be quick to assume that larger organizations are better equipped for ABM, Steinert said smaller companies can sometimes have an advantage because they are often nimbler and can more quickly adjust their strategies as needed.
“One of the things that you see with small companies is they’re able to make commitments more easily because they don’t have the luxury of doing a lot of things,” said Steinert. “They kind of have to make an all-in bet and say, ‘Our go to market is account-based marketing. We are all in on this and our folks, both sales and marketing, are going to focus on a defined set of accounts.’”
According to the research, 43% of marketers who meet or exceed their goals dedicate less than 25% of their budget to ABM. Additionally, about 40% of those who see success invest the same amount in technology as they did before launching their ABM programs.
While many marketers may assume that gathering the right tech stack and securing the proper budget are keys to ABM success, the findings illustrate that a company’s mindset and internal ABM commitment are more likely to drive results.
When setting the stage for ABM success, Steinert also stressed the importance of good data and noted that alignment between marketing and sales is a crucial part of this.
“[Good teams] are really focused on measuring success at the junction of marketing and sales,” said Steinert. “We also found that the folks who succeed measure marketing on two fronts: the effectiveness of engaging those accounts and the effectiveness of converting that engagement into actual sales momentum, aka leads and opportunities. Success is connected to not just measuring revenue, but also measuring upstream, critical breaking points.”
Ensuring you have the right data and metrics in place is table stakes, especially since not every marketing solution may support ABM. The research reveals that only 24% of marketers believe their CRM and MAP support their ABM programs.
“If you say you’re going to stick to ABM for longer than a year, then you can’t rely on easy fixes. The companies that succeed stick to it and have actually been building workarounds to shortcomings in the technology,” said Steinert. “With clients like Oracle and Fuze, what we’re seeing is they have to do some manual work, but they’re really focused on that intersection between marketing and sales and how can they enable sales better with insights.”
According to the report, 67% of those who meet or exceed expectations have an effective lead handoff between marketing and sales. Meanwhile, only 43% of those who meet some of their goals ranked their handoff as effective.
While ABM programs and technology still have a long way to go, Steinert said there is real progress being made in B2B and those leading the pack can provide valuable insights for others who are just getting started.