Account Based Marketing (ABM) continues to dominate the conversation amongst marketeers. So much so that last Thursday saw 400 B2B Marketing professionals descend on the Mermaid Theatre in London, for the annual B2B Marketing Conference; this year titled ‘ABM: getting it right and making it happen’. We at Sherpa are not shy when it comes to expressing our love for all things ABM, so decided we would put our money where our mouth is and sponsor this exciting event. Sherpa CEO, Tom Perry, hosted a popular session on Partner ABM and engaging partners through the channel using account based techniques.
The day gave attendees a good chance to network with some fellow ABMers, get more of a gauge on how business leaders are feeling about ABM and listen to some of the more established ABM professionals giving keynotes on their experience. There was a huge amount of information on the table, some of which gave mixed views of ABM approach and highlighted how there is a long way to go in the ABM journey – it is still a relatively unestablished principle and there is a lot of room for best practice to be shared. However, there were definitely some standout points which resonated with the Sherpa team, so here are our four key takeaways.
1. Marketing and Sales ‘alignment’ isn’t enough…
There is a huge amount of emphasis on sales and marketing alignment within ABM; we have been vocal in this ourselves. However, listening to a fantastic keynote by Adrian Hardy at BT, made me realise that although alignment is a primary objective in ABM sales and marketing teams, it still emphasises that the teams are operating separately. What successful ABM programmes require is sales and marketing symbiosis…one team made up of sales and marketing professionals, who train together, speak the same language, understand the differences of their individual roles but are targeted to achieve the same objective. Adrian highlighted that ’the most valuable commodity to any sales team is time’. With a symbiotic ABM team, marketing would have a thorough understanding of this and would ensure that ABM programmes are tailored to ensure they are as time efficient for sales as possible. There should be no exceptions to this, even when using an agency to run your ABM programmes. Through our own ABM experience we understand that creating a symbiotic sales and marketing team can be difficult to achieve and we have spent a lot of time with sales teams in the delivery stage. Agencies should be offering fully managed programmes, which do not just stop at the point of lead delivery and should not be afraid to operate alongside sales teams.
2. Data is your greatest power…if you can harness it!
The most recent ABM report from B2B Marketing indicates that a whopping 86% of organisations see data and insight as the biggest challenge to their ABM initiatives. Building a watertight database is tricky and an integral step in a successful ABM campaign, but many businesses are frightened to embrace data with the GDPR casting a shadow over their marketing efforts. However, David Cotterill, from Conduent, correctly stated that “Spray and pray in the world of GDPR marketing doesn’t work. You need a legitimate business interest”. Building your database is a key success factor for any ABM campaign. In the planning phase of any ABM campaign, at Sherpa, we would spend time with you, in order to understand your target audience and your value proposition. We would then work with you to plan your campaign and identify the audiences to target. A large part of the programme is always focused around account research, analysis and discovery and using tactics such as intent, we would build a strong database. This takes time though – far more than even we originally anticipated – and should always be factored in to the campaign programme. We have learnt that time planning around data management in ABM campaigns is critical!
3. There is no defined Martech Stack
It was interesting that during the presentations, certain slides prompted a slight disturbance within the audience as individuals reached for their iPhones to capture the information that was being shared. One of the slides which prompted this reaction in Sherpa’s session was the one which detailed the various platforms we have used across our ABM programmes. There are hundreds of solutions and platforms available and even more combinations that can be applied, so there is no right or wrong answer with regards to which stack you should use. It is dependent on your programme, your team and your target audience. However, the key is to make sure that your martech stack is fully planned out and clearly defined before launching an ABM campaign.
4. Take advantage of existing expertise.
One of the speakers at the start of the day advised that ‘agencies should not be employed until your strategy is nailed down’…obviously, this caused a few sharp intakes of air in the room. What he should have said, is ‘only employ an agency when you are ready for ABM’. We at Sherpa believe this entirely. So much so, we created an easy five question survey to ascertain if you are ready for ABM! The right foundations have to be in place before embarking on an ABM journey, but if you are ready, then employing an agency and leveraging their experienced in managing ABM campaigns is a great step. The right agency will help you to forge your strategy, identify target accounts, fully manage the process and will usually have access to a wider martech stack than companies going it alone. Just make sure you have the five key success factors in place first!
For more information or to discuss how Sherpa can transform your marketing through ABM campaigns, please get in touch: