When ABM Isn’t Working, Part 2
Not all ABM programs are successful right off the bat. It can take adjusting and fine-tuning to turn your program into a well-oiled machine.
In part 1 of “When ABM Isn’t Working” we heard expert advice from Kathi Macchi, Jon Miller, Peter Herbert, Justin Gray and Joe Andrews.
In part 2, the guidance continues from the paragons of profit.
What do you do when ABM isn’t working?
Chief Analyst at TOPO
“There are many reasons why ABM might not be working, but you have to take a step back and figure out why you’re doing ABM in the first place. Often, expectations are not set correctly or you’re doing ABM for the wrong reasons.
Most of the ABM programs I’ve seen fail in the last few of years were caused by a lack of commitment, not understanding the implications, not understanding metrics, or lack of a solid plan.
Let’s take a step back and isolate the problem. Start small and reset your expectations. Take a few SDRs, one demand Gen and one Sales Rep and narrow down your orchestration plan. This will limit where the process breaks. Once you get it working, then use the learnings to convince the SDRs and the Sales teams this is going to work. Once you have their trust, then you can optimize and grow it through the rest of the group.
I don’t love pilot programs in ABM because it can get you into trouble. I’ve seen marketers interpret a pilot to mean a test campaign. You’re either doing it for a business reason or you’re not, and if you’re not, then don’t do it. You must be able to define the result you’re after. But if you’re doing ABM because it sounds cool or you want better leads, you’re going to fail.”
VP ABM Strategy, Field and Partner Marketing, DemandBase
“First, you need to diagnose the problem, then set to solve it. Here are eight key areas where we see things go awry:
- Sales Leadership stops coming to your meetings – We talk about ABM being a team sport and how it’s imperative that Sales is onboard. If they don’t think it’s important enough to sync with you on a regular cadence, they either they aren’t invested in ABM or they might think it’s not working.
- Sales keeps changing the target account list – It is really hard to hit a moving target. So if Sales keeps moving accounts on and off the list, it is hard for your marketing to pack a punch! While it doesn’t need to be a static list, it does need to stay locked for a quarter at a time to let your marketing do its magic!
- Sales isn’t supporting or participating in your programs – Getting buy-in from your Sales team in advance of your programs is critical. If you don’t, often times your campaigns will fall flat! Don’t do random acts of marketing just to stay busy – make sure they’re meeting the needs of your Sales team!
- Inside Sales isn’t still goaled on quantity-based metrics (or maybe Marketing is!) – If two teams are working towards different goals, they will not be working together. Period. And in ABM it is not about quantity, it’s about quality. “Connects” and “hand raises” are counter to that objective. Instead, work toward “pipeline” and “revenue.”
- You Don’t Have a healthy (or increasing) number of target accounts on your website – As we know, more than half of the buying process happens online, and specifically, on your website. If your programs aren’t driving your target accounts to your website, your messaging is wrong or your tactics aren’t targeted enough.
- A large percentage of leaders are coming from outside your target account list – First and foremost, everyone in marketing needs to focus on the Target Account List (TAL). But having a list alone isn’t enough. You must segment the list by accounts and contacts to to make sure it’s relevant and contextual to your audience.
- The percent of revenue coming from your target accounts list is decreasing – We typically see 70-80% coming from the TAL, but if you see it dip for multiple quarters, there might be an issue with your list, or your Sales team has lost faith in the process. Either way, time to take action!
- You can’t prove the ROI on your ABM-specific technology – Did you buy technology in advance of a full ABM Strategy? You did, didn’t you? Well, go back, build the strategy, reassess the technology that makes the most sense to support that strategy, and ditch the rest. Guaranteed, it will be a much easier conversation next year.”
CEO of The Bridge Group
“ABM not working for you? Well, don’t have a knee-jerk reaction and go looking for yet another silver bullet. Let’s take a quick peek at what you have in play and here is where you can begin. You have to determine if you are account-based or account-centric. Account-centric is when you have taken a set of accounts and drawn a box around them.
You are marketing to them and your sales development reps are calling many contacts. This is not account-based it is simply good old-fashioned outbound. Account-based is when an organization, not just sales not just marketing but rather an entire organization, commits to getting revenue out of a very specific set of accounts. And, those accounts are selected with some level of intelligence. Not a random list of accounts the AEs always wanted to get into but never could. Then you start looking for relationships. Who knows someone at that account that we may be able to use as a door opener. That may or may not be an option so you need to be prepared with a set of plays that you can run against that account. The beauty of a well-designed play is that everyone knows their role and goal.
At the end of the day, an account based model is a well orchestrated, strategic set of activities that allow you to rise above the noise of everyone else selling to that account. Your goal is to get that account to say “Hey, I want to talk to you.”
President of Heinz Marketing
“In working with clients across the country we’ve seen a lot of companies doing ABM but their first attempt has been treating it like a short-term campaign. They don’t put in that sustainable, scalable programmatic effort. We strongly believe that if you’re doing ABM well, it’s not a campaign, it’s a culture change. It’s a different way of doing business across the board.
There’s another case we’ve seen where companies do ABM campaigns, see significant results as a part of that, but then they’re not necessarily excited about doing it again because of the manual effort involved, because of some of the friction in the program that caused them to make that a harder deal. ABM inherently, it’s a lot harder than just pressing send on 100,000 emails and saying well, we’re done, but the impact is significantly greater, especially tied to the most important prospects in your target audience.
Ultimately, we’re talking about scaling ABM and inherently it’s hard to scale a program like this without the underlying ABM technology that enables that. But make no mistake – technology is not your strategy. Start with your strategy, then map your actions and play, which will direct the technology you need.
According to CEB, there are 7-10 decisions makers in B2B deals. A lot of companies recognize this and will identify those people in the organization, but they will still market to them individually, in silos. That doesn’t do anything to build conversation and consensus in the buying unit. Your job as a seller is not just to introduce the idea of a solution and introduce the idea of an outcome that they need to focus on, but to create and build consensus within that internal buying committee that can create greater urgency and greater velocity towards making a decision. Part of that is literally listing out those individuals and then enumerating what are their priorities, what do they care about, where are people that have things in common, etc.
Part of your job as the seller is to understand and then create that connective tissue between those internal buyers. Think about that buying committee and leveraging it, and those that are see better result.”
President at DiscoverOrg
“If ABM isn’t working, it’s time to ask dig into ‘Why‘ – and maybe 3, 4, or 5 ‘Whys.’
Don’t assume you know what’s broken until you’ve gone through that process. Imagine working through a scenario like this:
- Why aren’t we seeing results from our ABM programs? Well, what results are we aiming for? More revenue, Faster closes, Higher ASP? Shoot, we didn’t set success metrics up front.
- Why didn’t we set success metrics before embarking on this project? Well, we just needed to get it off the ground, and quite frankly, we don’t know what the results will be until we try it for the first time
- Why are we scared to set target goals? We don’t want to fail and miss the targets and have everyone lose confidence in what we’re doing
- Why do we think not setting goals is going to inspire more confidence than setting them and then using this first phase to see what works and what doesn’t? Hmm, well, we weren’t thinking of this as just a first phase. That may make it easier. Then, let’s start there.
That is just one way the conversation could go. Alternatively, it could end up identifying that there wasn’t executive buy-in, there was not good data on target accounts and contacts, or there was complete misalignment over what ABM really means. Whatever the reason, spend enough time to really understand it – and then take swift action from there.”
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As you can see, when ABM isn’t working, there are many things you can do to get ABM back on track. There’s never going to be a magic bullet. You may try one thing and course correct, or you may have to try many. But whatever you do, don’t give up.