Skip to content

The Key to Successful ABM Is to Kick It Off the Right Way

The ABM space is always evolving. It’s new, and everyone’s level of maturity is low. It seems like no one is getting it exactly right. If you’re just starting out, you may be thinking you need to catch up. But the truth is that you have a major opportunity to get ahead by doing it right.

The key to successful ABM is to kick it off the right way. For all the lofty goals of sales alignment, better attribution, and enhanced pipeline, if you don't set it up right from the start, you will never realize the benefits of ABM.

It’s like F1 racing. Everyone basically has the same people, tech, data, and hardware. The winners just use it all better. 

ABM is not rocket science (or F1 racing). The mission-critical steps below are based on simple truths that have helped our clients successfully evolve from Brand > Demand > ABM. This checklist will help you launch ABM faster and better, building a foundation that can be built upon, enriched, and scaled – and that drives more pipeline creation and accelerated pipeline velocity. 

1. Determine Your Ideal Customer Profile

Account-based marketing isn’t really about vague, ill-defined lists that contain accounts that may or may not buy from your brand. It’s about the audience. More specifically, it’s about understanding which organizations are a perfect fit for your solution so that you can focus your efforts on the highest-value audience.

That’s why any successful ABM strategy starts with a clearly defined audience. In ABM lingo, that’s your ideal customer profile (ICP). To start, you need clear firmographic qualifiers that identify your best opportunities to win. Then you can synthesize data points from qualitative inputs from sales along with quantitative inputs from closed-won analysis.

Remember that your ICP is always evolving. While each iteration should be documented, it needs to be refreshed and updated through each sales cycle. And it definitely needs to be right before you proceed with ABM. From your ICP, you can determine your target account list (TAL), choose your channels, and create your strategy. 

2. Develop Internal Alignment

ABM programs are very different from the way that most sales, marketing and finance teams are used to operating. In fact, lack of sales and marketing alignment is one of the biggest challenges of ABM – and one of the most important to solve. Because while the truth is that ABM benefits both departments by providing higher-quality leads and better ROI, change can be hard. 

Aligning sales and marketing won’t happen overnight or all at once. It’s a process of enhancing your existing relationships, iterating on what already works, and incorporating feedback from both teams. Sales will know which accounts are qualified or ready to purchase, while your ABM tech can help refine and prioritize segmentation. 

Don’t forget to set clear KPIs. KPIs give your teams a set of common goals, which is the ultimate way to encourage alignment. Finally, communicate, communicate, communicate. There’s no such thing as over-communicating when you’re setting up an ABM program. 

3. Create Your ABM Playbook

Leads are important. Especially high-value leads. But as you discovered when you were setting your KPIs, ABM is so much more than leads. It’s also about account reach, engagement, marketing influence, pipeline velocity and even customer retention. So how do you move “beyond the click” and start doing marketing that solves real problems? You build an ABM Playbook. 

First, put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Why do they want your product? What are you solving for? What do you want them to do – and what do you want them to do after that, and after that? How will you determine and tier your target account list to determine who gets 1:many, 1:few and 1:one campaigns?

Your ABM Playbook needs to include chapters on the following:

  • Account strategy
  • Activation workflow
  • Campaign strategy
  • Data and cross-platform requirements
  • Reporting needs

4. Define Your Success Criteria

ABM KPIs differ from your typical sales metrics and can be one of the biggest shocks to the system when developing your program. Your success criteria can even vary from campaign to campaign, especially among 1:many, 1:few and 1:one campaigns. 

Select criteria that align with the audience being targeted: for example, with a brand-unaware audience, clicks are not the best measurement of a campaign’s success. Instead, develop a system to create aggregate scores that measure engagement. You can also have different criteria for different stages, including awareness, sales hand-off, re-evaluation and retention or referrals.

To evaluate all that data, you’ll need to understand the metrics and reporting available across your ecosystem and how to leverage them to make decisions. Reporting is no easy task, but it’s essential to quantify spending on a campaign or platform to inform your future strategy. 

5. Understand the Tools in Your Ecosystem

Speaking of your MarTech stack, that’s the final piece of the puzzle. Before you can kick off your ABM strategy, you need tools and channels that will support it. Every business typically has tons of existing technology – you need to understand how yours works together, how it could support ABM, and what you need to fill in the gaps. 

Create clearly defined workflows that explain how each platform plays a role in the overarching strategy or campaign. Expand this to the role and weighting of each channel and placement – that will guide your portfolio optimization. And define your requirements and use cases up front. Then you can build out your measurement approach to ensure accurate data, ROI tracking, and future insights.

So – are you ready to kick off your ABM program? Building the right foundation is essential, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. BOL has done this many times before, and we’ll put all our experience to work for you. Check out our full-service ABM program for more information. 

Reveal Modal
Recommended Resource

Launch A Successful ABM Campaign, Now

Download the complete guide to ABM, Everything You Need To Know About Account-Based Marketing, and get started today.

Download Now
Everything You Need To Know About ABM - Book Cover