The hype and myth of ABM
I'm not trying to do some "against the grain" hot take on why you shouldn't implement an account based marketing strategy--far from it. It's just that with over 7000 different vendors in the marketing technology space, the way in which you engage with prospects and potential customers seems like it's getting turned into this frankenstein-type process that contorts and distorts reality for many marketers.
From listening for buying signals to counting engagement minutes to running ads that follow a prospect all over the internet, there's no shortage of tools (many of them awesome by the way) to help us bring all levels of science to trying to engage with larger customers.
The issue is less the technology, the issue is that it's being applied haphazardly, and because it extends beyond the marketing department, it doesn't land evenly. And further, we're outsourcing the hard work of cracking a large account to the bots. I had one sales leader tell me that he'd run his normal SDR bombardment process against the larger accounts, and if that didn't work, then marketing was free to "ABM-it." I've heard about accounts who weren't responding getting "ABM'd" as if it was this switch we could turn on to magically convert this account who'd had 27 SDR calls into a hot prospect overnight.
To quote Beatrice from the meme-worthy esurance commercial, "That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works."
Too often I'm starting to see sales and marketing teams begin to contract out the heavy lifting of an account-based strategy to the tools they've bought. Sure, the dashboards are great looking, and the CEO can see that stuff is happening. But is it?
I think we're in danger of ABM'ing ourselves right out of a job if we adopt a "build it and they will come" approach without actually doing the "marketing" part of account based marketing. There's no substitute for sitting with an account executive and going over the accounts in the pipeline and pushing them to get an understanding of what the customer needs, what they're using today, who is sitting around the table, and what motivates each of these people to give your solution the thumbs-up. We can send ebooks and direct marketing all day long to a buying committee and show sales and the board that ABM is "working," but that's not getting results--that's just busy work. It won't be successful at scale, and it won't lead to wholesale changes in terms of how we look at our market and ultimately win it. And then ABM becomes yet another marketing buzzword that the board doesn't want to invest in.
Do the work. Meet with customers who chose you, and those that didn't. Put your AE's up on the rack and make them be better in terms of knowing their accounts and not just pass you a list to run ads against. Get everyone in the same boat on what you're going to measure, how you're going to evaluate what's working and what's not. Have product marketing standing by to help unstick accounts or doubters that are blocking your sale.
Forget about the technology, forget about the dashboards, forget about the hype. Instead, roll up your sleeves and just market.