Skill Sets to Look for When Searching for an ABM Manager

By now you may be among the many B2B companies  looking to implement ABM campaigns in your regular digital marketing efforts. In fact, according to Hubspot, about 67% of brands are leveraging ABM. Crafting a successful ABM strategy takes skills—skills you will need to consider when searching for an ABM manager.

Why should you hire an ABM manager to conduct your ABM campaigns? Well, the proven success of ABM is undeniable. Over 80% of account-based marketers say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing initiatives, according to a survey conducted by ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance. And just as marketing technology continues to evolve and change, so do digital marketing strategies. Running a sophisticated and revenue-producing ABM program requires an experienced manager with a strategic and analytical mindset.

An ABM manager is more than just a digital advertiser. An ABM manager blends data-driven analysis, strategic thinking, sales collaboration, and storytelling to craft an integrated ABM campaign.

Reaching prospects with the right message at the right time is the ultimate goal of any marketing program. With ABM, your manager should be able to do this at scale through creative solutions and a wide range of skills they’ve developed through their marketing career.

#1: Campaign Management Skills—A Proven Track Record

One of the foundational skills of any ABM manager should be proven experience in campaign management. Understanding the pathway from ideation to execution is critical to any marketing program.

An ABM manager should be goal-oriented, keeping the business’s bottom line in mind while also considering the prospect’s digital journey. Overseeing how a campaign takes shape, from beginning to end, and ensuring the successful launch and execution of that campaign are core skills all ABM managers should have.

Here are some questions to ask a potential ABM manager about their campaign management skills:

  • How do you define the goals for a particular campaign?
  • In what capacity have you managed ABM campaigns in the past?
  • Where do you find most organizations stumble when managing their ABM campaigns, and how do you propose avoiding or resolving these issues?
  • Can you provide an example of a successful ABM campaign you have run in the past?

#2: Data-Driven Mindset—Interpretation and Optimization

The numbers never lie—but they do tell a story. And understanding the story of your campaign data is essential to being a good ABM manager.

A data-driven mindset is key, whether that means analyzing marketing ROI to prove your campaign’s impact or analyzing click data to implement A/B tests.

It also comes in handy when taking a hard look at the data comes before the campaign has begun. An ABM manager may be called on to review CRM data to craft an ideal customer persona (ICP). From there, they will have to use tools across the web and in marketing platforms to aggregate a list of accounts that match your target audience (target account list = TAL). Drilling down by layering your ICP over your TAL will yield data that informs what kind of marketing message you come up with.

All of these steps require a solid grasp of data. Too many marketers justify the means by the end, but it’s a smarter move to make decisions informed by what the numbers say, and not the other way around. 

A good ABM manager understands that data is key and should have answers to some of the following questions:

  • What are the benchmark statistics you pay attention to when managing an ABM program? 
  • Which platforms or technologies do you have experience with for data management and analysis? (Google Analytics, Salesforce, etc.)
  • How do you balance serving marketing and sales the data they both value to ensure a successful ABM program for all parties involved?

#3: Strategic Mindset—A Full Funnel Approach

Though an ABM manager is part of the marketing team, their understanding of the full sales cycle, from awareness to acquisition, is critical. Not only should they understand how prospects move through your organization’s sales journey, but they should also understand how the consumer is moving through their own digital journey to becoming a customer. After all, “ABM is a strategic approach, not a tactic.” 

This skill is closely linked to collaboration, which we will talk about in a bit. But more than just working well with others, having a strategic mindset requires ABM managers to understand the complexities of  today’s digital marketing journey. 

Thinking creatively to target prospects based on their job function, or what industry their company falls within; perhaps knowing when to use which advertising platform or pairing the right content with the proper ad type—these are all strategic skills that ABM managers must have to develop and lead a good marketing program.

Consider these questions to see how strategic your ABM manager may be:

  • What content do you think works best for each phase of the buying journey?
  • How do you stay on top of constant industry changes, and what have you found to be the most successful new strategies in the last 12 months?
  • Provide an example of a time where your attention to detail proved critical to the success of an ABM program.

#4: Strong Communication Skills—Telling a Good Story...Well

What good is an idea if it can’t be properly communicated? Strong communication is something virtually all job descriptions call for today, especially as we continue to see remote work flourish and our virtual meetings increase.. If 93% of communication is nonverbal, as the adage says, then an ABM manager should be very skilled in that remaining 7%. 

From a practical level, an ABM manager should have strong writing and editing experience. Developing campaign briefs and strategies, liaising with internal and external teams, and even, drafting ad copy are skills that come with the ABM managing territory.. An ABM manager’s written and verbal communication abilities should be top-notch.

Additionally, reviewing the data (as we already talked about) and crafting a consumable and compelling narrative to deliver to executives will prove the value of a good ABM manager. 

Ask yourself, how would your ideal ABM manager answer these questions: 

  • What have you found is the best way to effectively communicate with your team to smoothly and efficiently run an ABM program?
  • Can you provide an example of a time you were able to work through a misunderstanding within your organization?
  • Please show writing samples, if any.

#5: Collaborative Attitude—Works Well with Others

Last, but certainly not least, an ABM manager should be someone who plays well with others. They will often be pulled between many different initiatives, and tasked by teams who have competing interests or goals to achieve. An ABM manager must communicate priorities, strategically develop solutions to meet these goals, and manage successful campaigns to see ideas become reality. All of this requires a collaborative attitude and clear vision.

An ABM manager should be proactive, a self-starter who isn’t afraid to ask questions. They should be flexible and have a positive attitude, facing new challenges with suggestions rather than only seeking answers.

This is a good time to get to know your potential ABM manager. See how they would respond to these questions on collaboration:

  • What does a collaborative attitude look like to you? How can an ABM manager exemplify that for their team?
  • How would you navigate the challenges of working with a stubborn teammate or someone who has their mind set on something you disagree with?
  • Besides collaboration, what personal qualities do you think are essential for the making of a good ABM manager?
  • Are you more of a rule follower or a rule breaker? How has this helped or hindered your professional growth and the success or failure of previous ABM programs you’ve managed?

Agility is Fundamental to ABM

We hope these skills and questions will guide you on your search for a successful ABM manager. Digital marketing, especially when it comes to ABM, requires curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and more. The ever-changing digital world provides ample opportunity  for testing and learning, so your ideal ABM manager should be willing to rebound from failure quickly and never settle.