A Short Guide to ABM Engagement, Part 2: Marketing

Fiona O'Connor

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Part of a three-part guide exploring some typical areas of difficulty organizations experience on the ABM development journey. Part 1 covers Sales, Part 2 covers Marketing and Part 3 covers Sales Development.

Align Marketing to Sales to better engage more high potential accounts

ABM engagement for MarketingIn demand gen, leads can come from anywhere across a broad total addressable market (TAM). It’s a one-to-many model focused on volume and efficiency. Naturally, therefore, lead qualification and disqualification are important components of the approach. In contrast, by definition, all the accounts on an ABM list have been pre-qualified as worth an extra effort. Therefore, efficiency-focused lead-qualification adds much less value here and may even destroy it (by mistakenly disqualifying valuable demand). When an ABM list is created, Sales and Marketing have agreed to invest more in specific accounts because of their outsized potential. Lead signals are still valuable but waiting for them should not get in the way of taking action when warranted. In an ABM program, it’s incumbent upon Marketing to work aggressively to create the type of engagement with target accounts that better prepares the ground for sales activity. To ensure that Marketing is doing things that will actually be recognized as real assistance, Marketing needs to become much better at identifying where Sales needs the kinds of help that Marketing is well-suited to deliver.

If Marketing teams dive into their own concept of account-based marketing tactics and ABM campaigns, without prior alignment to their Sales organization’s needs, their efforts are far less likely to be recognized as important (and less likely to be truly helpful to Sales’ needs).

To learn more about proper Sales alignment and ABM Marketing, read Driving Short-Term Quota Attainment by Aligning Marketing to Sales.

How Marketing can deliver better value to secure deeper engagement

Since leads alone are not enough to deliver on the revenue objectives of an ABM program, and Sales is not equipped to drive better levels of engagement on its own, Marketing must take up the challenge of driving better engagement with these accounts. And given that this target account list would not have been created if prior marketing activity had proven sufficient, it seems logical that the marketing tactics used until now will not be sufficient to accomplish the goal. If Marketing simply grafts its classic demand generation approach onto a target account list and calls that “ABM,” they could be shooting themselves in the foot for two reasons: First is that classic demand gen tactics simply aren’t designed for deep engagement, so they can’t deliver it very well. Second, since it’s conceived for broad-based lead volumes, demand gen’s focus is on aggregate yields rather than performance within specific high-value accounts. This is nearly the complete opposite of why we commit to an ABM strategy in the first place!

Thus, in ABM, Marketing teams need to identify what kinds of tactics actually can drive better, deeper account engagement over time. To gain coherent engagement with a buying group, an ABM team needs to deliver a lot of value in a format that forces people together – tactics that can do this include HVOs
(highlighted earlier), webinar series and others that focus on going deep into a topic and delivering very prescriptive guidance. By working to develop this kind of tactical mix, Marketing can open up accounts to Sales interaction in ways that “batch and blast” volume demand gen won’t. As we’ll cover next, when building up a deep engagement capability, it’s also essential that Marketing work closely with the SDR team to adjust how those resources are trained and deployed such that there’s no confusion about how to treat the outputs of the new program elements.

To learn more about driving target account engagement with webinars, read Using Programmatic Webinars to Achieve Better ABM Engagement.

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ABM, ABM strategies, Account-Based Marketing, digital marketing, sales and marketing alignment

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