The Complete Checklist for Building an ABM Foundation

Good Account Based Marketing doesn’t just happen. B2B marketers must first build a solid foundation to support their teams in an account-based world.

As Harvard Business Review explains, “Only when data is organized and integrated does it open up a true perspective on every touch point and allow organizations to optimize each step of the customer’s journey.”

Just like a house won’t be able to support a family and stand the test of time without a solid foundation, your ABM program won’t stand a chance unless you first put the right pieces into place.

We’re assembled an ABM Foundation checklist to help you make sure you’ve got all the right foundation for your ABM programs.

Download the checklist here.

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Let’s walk through the key elements of building your ABM foundation.

1) Selecting target accounts

In the ABM world, everyone has agreed that target account selection is the most crucial and first step is getting your ABM program up and running. However, we’ve realized there’s a step that should precede account selection: Account Entitlements. In other words, you need to answer the question “what is the right amount of time, money and resources dedicated to each account in each tier?”

Once that has been completed, you can move on to selecting your target accounts. Many companies have adopted the same 3-tier approach we take at Engagio for selecting the number and priority for those target accounts. After all, not all target accounts are created equal.

Drilling one level deeper, the next step is to establish your Ideal Customer/Buyer Profiles. You must identify the right people to approach within those target accounts. Purchasing decisions at large, enterprise organizations can involve as many as 17 decision makers! If you want to effectively sell into those accounts, you must map your decisions makers.

2) Account and Contact Data

Data can make or break the operations of your marketing. You have a lot riding on your target accounts, and the last thing you need is inaccurate, incomplete, or missing contacts holding you back, or worse, causing you to commit egregious errors in your ABM efforts. Think about the last time someone called you by the wrong name – it’s the same thing. There are 4 types of data that are essential for building your ABM foundation: firmographic, technographic, intent, and engagement data.

Coverage is a critical metric. It answers the questions “How complete is your account data?” and “How effectively is your team building contacts with the people who matter at your target accounts?” For ABM success, it’s imperative that you have a contact data management strategy in place, and that it’s ongoing, not a one-time event. You need to maintain a quality standard for your house data, while simultaneously seeking “greenfield” contacts within each target account.

3) Lead-to-Account Matching

Since a major factor to the success of your Account-Based Marketing strategy is your ability to find appropriate contacts for each of your target accounts, you must also map them to their related account object. This is also known as Lead-to-Account Matching (L2A). The L2A process takes each lead, and identifies which account it belongs to. You can do this manually,  use a simple match on email domain and website (domain-based matching), or automate it with technology like Engagio Foundation that uses more sophisticated “fuzzy logic” methods to match on multiple dimensions including company name, email domain, and any other fields that may contain company information.

If you don’t have leads matched to their respective accounts, you’ll have a hard time doing ABM effectively and efficiently.

4) Marketing Programs

Marketers use program performance metrics to monitor early market changes and determine messages and offers that resonate with buyers. Keep “boiler room” metrics internal to Marketing and use them to refine programs and messages at each stage of the customer journey. Also, don’t get caught in the trap of using these as vanity metrics.

Add important campaign fields in Salesforce lead and contact records. You may want to do the same for account records. Doing this will ensure you have the right data for proper ABM attribution.

  • Pick List Fields: Lead source, lead source asset, last lead source, last asset
  • Freeform Fields: Lead source detail, lead source asset detail, last lead source detail, Last asset Detail, plus relevant Google UTM fields for source, medium, term, content, and campaign.

5) ABM Funnel

The ABM funnel defines how accounts move through defined stages toward intended outcomes and give marketers metrics to manage their process with rigor. Defining your funnel will give you visibility into an account’s movement between stages and help you answer important questions about the status of a deal.

Though account stages differ across businesses, this is what it looks like at Engagio. We tend to like the funnel orientation of the stages, thus the account funnel. You can use this as a starting point and base your framework off of something similar.

account funnel6) ABM Team

The center of any ABM initiative is an aligned marketing and sales team. Once you have alignment and buy-in from key stakeholders, you must then set your success metrics. What does success with ABM mean to you and your company?

Start with a pilot, dedicating a certain percentage of your team to the program for a predefined amount of time. The goal is to prove that this program will give you a positive return. After achieving early wins, you can commit more resources so your organization can scale your programs. Once the ABM program has proven successful over a longer period of time, assign team members to a dedicated ABM team or ABM demand center.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was any great ABM program. But if you put the time, energy and resources to build a strong foundation, you too can achieve greatness.

Use this checklist to ensure you build a solid foundation and set yourself up for ABM success.

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Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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