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Five Myths About Account-Based Marketing

It must be something in the spring air, but lately SiriusDecisions clients are coming to us with lots and lots of questions about account-based marketing (ABM). ABM is a broad category, including everything from one-to-one marketing to named accounts to customer marketing. What all of these strategies share are some well-established myths about what can and can’t be done in ABM. Here are the top five, with thoughts on how to fix them:

  • We can only handle a few accounts. The myth here is that ABM is only effective for a small number of large accounts. When ABM is seen as only a high-touch, one-to-one strategy, it’s true that fewer accounts are better. It’s also true that different ABM models may be more appropriate for your business goals, and may help marketing to scale scarce resources. Don’t get stuck in one ABM mindset.
  • Sales must choose the accounts. While sales must be part of account selection, they’re not the only ones with a vote. Clients get into trouble when opinion-based nominations from sales are the only criteria. Successful ABM programs use a combination of quantitative and qualitative factors, with input from both marketing and sales. Don’t just take orders. Make collaborative, fact-based decisions on which accounts will yield results.
  • Sales already knows everything about their accounts. Related to account selection bias is the myth that, with regard to existing accounts and prospects, sales knows everything and everyone. It’s just not possible, especially in very large accounts. We see a great role for marketing in uncovering new contacts and new buying centers, or finding more information and more contacts in known ones. Don’t assume. It’s costing you business.
  • Events are the best tactic. It’s time to help sales think differently if events are the automatic request when well-meaning marketers ask how they can help with account development. While event-heavy ABM plans are popular and comfortable, there’s a whole menu of tactics that might be more appropriate and cost-effective.
  • We can’t measure results. It’s harder to measure ABM impact than traditional demand creation – but not impossible. Marketing can tell a great story around ABM if measures are constructed properly. Develop a dashboard of leading and long-term indicators showing progress and outcomes. Start with measures like initial engagement and account data improvement, then work toward revenue-related outcomes, including account-level growth, deal size and more. Whatever you do, do not give up! It can and should be done.
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