5 Things I Learned From SiriusDecisions' Powering ABM Forum

October 04 2018

5 Things I Learned From SiriusDecisions' Powering ABM Forum

5 Things I Learned From SiriusDecisions' Powering ABM Forum

In a world where prospects need a deeper relationship with brands before purchasing, it is imperative for Sales and Marketing to drive engagement with personalized messages.

SiriusDecisions’ latest forum, “Powering ABM: Driving Audience-Centricity With a Solid Data Strategy,” gathered a group of marketing professionals in Austin, TX to tackle the complexity of using data to find your next target audience. One overarching theme dominated the conference: Personalization in messaging and accurate engagement metrics are crucial to the success of any account-based marketing (ABM) campaign. 

Through this lens, here are the top five takeaways to keep in mind when developing an ABM strategy.

1. Partner with sales and leadership for buy-in and shared responsibility 

The war between Sales and Marketing has become a running joke at larger organizations, but successful ABM strategies require complete alignment—both teams have a role to play, and both have to play their roles right to be successful. Moreover, for hyper-personalized ABM campaigns, careful collaboration between Sales and Marketing is key to ensure you are targeting the right prospects. 

How do you bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing? With an ABM “walking deck.”

Simply put, a “walking deck” entails holding a kickoff presentation to gain buy-in from all of your stakeholders—product marketing, sales, marketing ops, etc.—and clearly defining the role each group plays in the overall strategy with a neatly ordered PowerPoint deck. This deck should include how your goals relate to the company goals, and how each group needs to work together to carefully identify accounts to target.

It’s also critical to get executive buy-in. And that means communicating clearly with your executive team to understand what matters most at the highest level and make sure they sign off on your plans. 

2. Always start with clean data

A clean database with accurate data points always determines the success—or failure—of an ABM campaign.

For most organizations, it’s normal for up to one-third of prospect databases to go stale every year. That means people who were once a perfect target no longer fit the bill—they might have moved companies, changed positions, prioritized new business goals, etc.

Best practices suggest that if unrefreshed data is over 36 months old, it should be deleted. While this might seem harsh, it’s necessary to move forward and recognize the industry is constantly changing and what felt right a year and a half ago is no longer valid today.

3. Develop an account set using your database, not your sales reps

Once Marketing, Sales, and leadership are aligned with the goals surrounding your ABM strategy, and your data is squeaky clean, start tackling your account set. This is the key moment when you decide exactly who to target.

Instead of bombarding sales reps with data collection asks, the marketing team should help with the heavy lifting by sifting through the current database and automation programs. While asking Sales for feedback on the account list will keep it healthy, solely relying on them is not scalable and will bottleneck your progress as your ABM strategy advances.

Create a list of “must-have,” “should-have,” and “nice-to-have” data points you need for each account. These identifiers should include the following:

  1. Contact info 
  2. Product interest 
  3. Vertical
  4. Interactions they've had to-date 
  5. Purchase history 
  6. Predictive analysis 
  7. Associated potential monetary value

Then, identify where your target accounts live within the buyer’s journey, so you can create more personalized content to lead them through the process. Once you’re keen to the prospects you’re interested in targeting, identify the most desirable characteristics of your current customers and overlay them on your database to prioritize your account set.

The more you know your prospects on a personal level, the more personalized you can be with your messaging. And the more personalized your messaging is, the higher your campaign engagement is likely to be. (That’s a good thing.) 

4. Enable sales with the right technology

When a specific target engages with personalized content, what are the next steps? The answer comes from setting expectations for each account.

Sales and Marketing should start by identifying “triggers,” or engagement actions taken by your selected ABM targets, in your customer-relationship management (CRM) platform. The sales team should be clear on which engagement triggers to act upon and which ones need more nurturing before starting a conversation.

For instance, if a targeted account visits your website, you might consider having your CRM notify the sales team. But if a targeted account visits your website, spends 10 minutes on it, and then downloads a white paper, your sales team will be notified and directed to reach out immediately.

The point is to give Sales the insight on how each piece of personalized content is being distributed and engaged with, so they have the autonomy and confidence to reach out to your target accounts when the time is right.

5. Define the best ways to measure engagement and results

The primary goal for B2B marketers has historically been to focus on top-of-the-funnel engagement and capture as many leads as possible. For ABM campaigns, the focus is on account activity across the entire funnel.  

Showing the value of full-funnel ABM campaigns versus traditional marketing starts with metrics. Since it can take one to two years before you see meaningful impact from an ABM strategy, you’ll need to establish a process to show progression by creating a control group and measuring pre- and post-ABM results. Pay attention to the following metrics:

  1. Average deal size
  2. Velocity
  3. Quota attainment
  4. Pipeline increase
  5. Customer health scores

You should also develop additional, business-level metrics to determine ABM campaign success. These should include the following measurable metrics:

  1. Revenue
  2. Pipeline
  3. Average deal size
  4. Lead stage velocity 
  5. Meetings booked

By tying your campaign’s success to concrete business impacts such as revenue or average deal size, you’re setting yourself up to show your leadership team the impact of your work. Moreover, you’re giving yourself a template for future learnings, so you can improve upon your ABM strategies—or repeat them. 

The bottom line

The goal of ABM is to target accounts on a one-on-one basis, but the success of hyper-personalization is completely dependent on clean and insightful data, audience-centric content, and buy-in from all departments and leadership.


If you’re struggling with your ABM strategy, Bulldog Solutions can help. Contact us to find out more about how we can strategize and deploy marketing campaigns for you.

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