The Growing Account-Based Marketing Bandwagon

January 30, 2017 Mark Emmons

Every morning, a Google Alert for “Account-Based Marketing” is waiting in my inbox. In recent weeks, the list of links in that daily email has been growing longer and longer. There are articles about ABM. Infographics, eBooks, press releases.

Every sales and marketing technology vendor seems to be eagerly positioning itself as an ABM solution. Let’s just say that it’s getting crowded on the ol’ ABM bandwagon.

Pretty much all of this content follows a well-worn pattern. Offer the most generic, superfluous advice possible about how to adopt account-based strategies. Select target accounts. Identify key decision-makers. Align sales and marketing efforts. Then quickly descend into a brazen sales pitch how you positively cannot do ABM without a particular product.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Usually, there’s little practical advice offered about how to actually incorporate ABM into your day-to-day business or run account-based campaigns — the sort of guidance you would get here and here. (And honestly, this is not another product pitch. If you’re interested in what we do and the problem that we solve, this is a good place to start. You also can see our recent ranking as an ABM solution by business reviewers on G2 Crowd.)

All of this isn’t meant to be a criticism of marketers, by the way. It’s smart to figure out a way to attach your company to a buzzword and hot trend. But too often marketers try to make it sound like ABM is something revolutionary. It’s not. In fact, there’s a reason why many sales leaders roll their eyes about the ABM craze. That’s because account-based strategies have been the playbook for enterprise sales since, well, pretty much forever.

But one thing has changed that allows any B2B organization to take a more holistic approach to engaging accounts — technology. Software tools have given organizations the ability to accumulate, structure and analyze data in new ways that give them unprecedented visibility into accounts.

It’s exactly why businesses are marketing themselves as ABM-friendly. (And call one of our reps now to schedule a demo!) The challenge, though, is differentiating between the tech tools that actually do what they say and the shiny toys doomed to gather dust.

This was a key point David Aguilar, director of sales operations at Invoca, raised when he spoke at the Ops-Stars at Dreamforce event. Invoca is widely recognized for being on the cutting edge of the ABM movement. The business designed a strategy that works in practice — not just in theory.

“Everyone talks about Account-Based Marketing,” Aguilar said. “Most companies are jumping into it because it makes a lot of sense and the idea is pretty simple. You identify customers who you think would potentially buy your product. You figure out the right contacts in those organizations. And then you do very targeted campaigns at those potential customers. But actually putting it into practice is very difficult.”

He also had a take-home message.

“If you don’t have the right technologies to launch an Account-Based Marketing program, it’s basically going to fall flat on its face,” Aguilar added.

There are no magic bullets. There are no shortcuts. ABM is just like every other business strategy. Success comes down to execution, commitment and hard work.

There are solutions that can help. It’s just as the ABM noise gets louder — along with variations like “Account-Based Everything” — it’s more and more difficult to figure out what actually will work best.

But there is one thing you can do. The next time you read some of this vendor-generated content about ABM, expect more than a fuzzy vision. There ought to be clear details about how they can enable your organization to close more — and bigger — deals at a faster rate.

If that kind of insight is curiously missing, then you know they’re just catching a free ride on the ABM bandwagon.

About the Author

Mark Emmons

Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at mark@leandatainc.com.

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