When is Account Based Marketing Not the Right Approach for You?

October 30, 2020 by Suma EP

Every few days I find myself answering questions around Account Based Marketing from senior marketers or CEOs who find us via search or agency rating websites. They have heard of ABM, have read up on it and are wondering if account based marketing approach is right for their business. Some of them have decided it is, but most are still trying to figure out if it is for them.

Here’s when ABM is not the right choice for you:

1. You are looking for quick leads and conversions. Your need for revenue is immediate.

2. Your sales and marketing teams are not aligned. Technically, everyone thinks they have alignment. But please be honest here, and you might discover, there is little alignment. For example:

  • Sales has its own goals, Marketing has its own.
  • Sales and Marketing do not talk every week, learning from each other.
  • Each Sales geo runs its own campaigns, and Marketing simply has to provide the collaterals.
  • Marketing provides leads. Sales hates them and thinks they are better off doing their own prospecting (and now they want more inside sales resources!).
  • What Marketing and Sales teams understand as qualified leads is vastly different.

These are some indicators that your Sales and Marketing teams are not #OneTeam. So you can see where you are with alignment.

3. You don’t have a lot of sales and marketing tech usage or savviness within the team. Many teams I speak to use archaic CRMs or don’t have any marketing automation in place. I tell them that it’s not yet time for ABM.

4. Your deal cycles are short and your deal sizes are less than $20,000. And lifetime customer value is under $50,000. You’re probably better off with regular digital marketing campaigns.

5. You want to deliver results for the next quarter and the next. Not for the next year or beyond. ABM is a long haul game; nine months of focused, intensive, coordinated and orchestrated work is the minimum you have to look at. Also you’d have tons of learnings on the way, so expecting the program to be an unqualified success in a few months is not wise, say ABM experts.

6. ABM is hard, it’s just what it is. If you look at the above points, it is obvious that it is hard. If your business or team is already in some pain now, it may not be the right time to jump into it.

Even with some of these being true for you, there is still room to start with ABM in a small way, maybe do a pilot with one industry or a geo or a set of accounts.

  • Align the sales lead for that pilot with the marketing lead.
  • Let them be a team with a clear and documented understanding of what they are trying to achieve in a year.
  • Support them as they navigate through the ups and downs.
  • And review frequently as a team, continuously aligning with each other and recalibrating the account based marketing programs as needed.

As the year ends, you would have gained traction in some of your dream accounts, and possibly even got a few deals. And you’d have a deck full of learnings on how you can scale the program to other verticals, geos or accounts.

So what’s a pilot account based marketing campaign you can start with?

Alternatively, if you found none of this true for you. Well, congratulations! ABM might actually be a good choice for you. And the next step for you is to check your ABM readiness!