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Christina Buchanan - 08.07.2019

Intro to ABM: 3 Assumptions to Avoid with Your ABM Game Plan

Note: This is part one of a three-part introduction to the benefits and methodologies of Account-based marketing.

So, you’ve been tasked with leading your company or clients’ first attempt at Account-based marketing! Lucky you—or should we say, best of luck to you. Pioneering your way through the unique and complex terrain of ABM can be very challenging. That being said, leading an ABM initiative can also be a great adventure for you and your team.
The key is to have a well-laid game plan from the start, which requires a lot of research and thoughtfulness about the end objective of your ABM strategy.
At Sagepath, we are often asked by our clients to help them embark on their first ABM journey, so we have learned quite a bit about what to do and what not to do.
The first thing I want to emphasize when preparing your ABM game plan—throw all assumptions out the door.
1. Team Alignment is Key
Don’t assume that your team’s idea of ABM is the same as yours. Account-based marketing is still fairly new compared to other traditional B2B marketing tactics and it’s likely that executives, marketers, and stakeholders will each have a different understanding of what ABM means to them, their department and their organization.
Because of the subjective nature of ABM, and because sales and marketing orchestration is critical to success, one of your first tasks will be to build your ABM team and gain a thorough understanding of your team’s and stakeholder’s beliefs about ABM and the role they anticipate playing in the strategy.
As you align your team, you will want to ensure that everyone consistently starts using agreed-upon terms and nomenclature to help streamline cross-functional collaboration and alleviate confusion.
Not only is it helpful to get everyone on the same page about goals, roles, and expectations early on, setting up a routine check-in cadence will help keep your team and stakeholders aligned throughout the process.
A truly successful ABM approach is one that fosters a great team working environment. Now is a good time to embrace the diversity in your team’s skill sets and leverage individual strengths to develop a solid working strategy.

2. An Innovative and Personalized Approach is the Best Approach
Don’t assume that there is only one way to do Account-based marketing. One of the most challenging aspects of developing an ABM game plan is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Account-based marketing relies on personalized and targeted methods that are unique to your organization/client and their customers. You will want to tailor your game plan according to your organization’s business requirements to reach your ABM goals effectively.
A tailored approach also drives the custom framework for determining how key accounts are chosen, which departments and partnerships should be involved, what channels will be most effective and which data will show the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Because there are so many possibilities for developing an effective ABM strategy that works for your organization, in the beginning, it’s best to work within broad parameters for identifying, scoring and ranking the key accounts that make up your Ideal Company Profile.
3. Think Big, Start Small, and Learn from Your Mistakes
Don’t assume that if you miss the mark, your game plan failed. A well-laid ABM plan begins with setting goals and benchmarking metrics so that you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
But if you fall short of your target benchmarks, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume the strategy failed.
ABM can produce many desirable results beyond calls set and demos scheduled. For example, in our most recent client ABM project, the first goal of the ABM strategy was to develop a scoring framework to identify and prioritize key accounts and then also measure their engagement with the brand. So, in this case, the measurable result was to identify 50 key accounts. Another goal was to develop a strategy for contact acquisition and a benchmark to work towards.

These may seem like simple and unnoteworthy goals, but all the smaller wins will ladder up to the big wins like new opportunities and new contracts.

The key is to set stretch goals for your strategy but be sure to allow wiggle room and flexibility within your strategy that allows for constant modification and refining as you measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

Check back for part two of this three-part series about ABM, which will focus on finding the right data to tell your Ideal Company Profile story.