Avoid these traps and your ABM campaigns will succeed
Demand Spring predicts: 65% of B2B ABM initiatives will fail to yield their promised economic results due to marketers reverting back to sales support tactics
Here at Demand Spring we have been monitoring the ABM space for the last few years, waiting for the hype to become reality. We have established two observations along the way. One is good; one bad.
- The good news is we firmly believe this is the year ABM gets real and we see a return on marketing investment (ROMI) for ABM efforts.
- The bad news is that we have seen firms revert back to traditional sales support tactics and habits over time. It’s been gradual. But our observations are consistent: organizations who have reverted back to traditional sales support tactics vs organizations who have not is the clear delineation between those who achieve revenue results and those who do not.
It is a painful thing to watch. We understand that the pendulum swings both ways, but in some organizations it has gone back to the Stone Age of marketing (pre-2008).
There are two forces at play.
The first force is the hype from the early ABM tech vendors who have introduced new concepts with little overall ABM strategic thinking.
The second is an organizational force and is due to a lack of planning and strategy development. Because of this, we believe ABM initiatives haven’t yielded their promised financial returns.
The result of both of these factors makes it easier for human nature to kick in and cause marketing teams to revert back to their comfort zone, enabling them to rely on the safety net of sales support. This often produces random marketing tactics which deliver little to no economic value in return.
Marketers have worked really hard over the last ten years to move away from random acts of marketing and to become accountable for revenue goals, earning them a seat at the executive table. We aim to keep it that way. If you’re looking to embrace ABM this year, you should know these four common traps. Avoiding these will help keep your ABM efforts healthy and your marketing efforts focused.
Trap 1: vanity metrics make a return to the executive table.
Vanity metrics have their place in the operational layer of your marketing team, and are a valuable indicator for diagnostics and optimization. They do not have a place at the executive table. We have seen marketers trying to train their executive committee on new reports that have become available to them via ABM tools, such as engagement minutes. This leads marketers to abandon their revenue metrics (i.e. pipeline contribution and influence) which leads to losing respect and causing confusion at the executive table.
TIP: if you need to show your executive team your ABM performance, focus on the financial results the program has driven. And try and use the same metrics and language they are familiar with from your lead-based demand generation programs.
Trap 2: marketers are being turned into sales caddies.
ABM programs not positioned correctly or focused around tight, well-thought-out marketing and sales plays, run the risk of being positioned as sales support. They could be seen as glorified sales requests to mine public information to generate account insights. This produces sales enablement collateral that most likely sits idle (i.e. sales decks and one-pagers). This has become particularly common in organizations who struggle to get value from technology, are deep into one-to-one ABM initiatives, and have no clear ABM strategy defined.
TIP: follow a clear step-by-step process to build your ABM plays. The process should clearly define sales and marketing touches, budget and responsibilities. Ensure plays are well-orchestrated across marketing and sales and have clear financial goals.
Trap 3: ABM turns into field events.
ABM programs that end up centered around field events are a symptom of marketers being turned into sales caddies. (See trap 2.) Our recent research shows a real come back in events as a preferred marketing tactic, and we agree events are a great tactic for deal acceleration. Our concern is the trend of sales requesting events and therefore this becomes your only ABM tactic.
TIP: align different tactics with the three different types of ABM campaigns (1:1. 1:Few, 1:Many). Also, show how tactics are tied together to build integrated marketing and sales plays. Then over-communicate. Share your thinking as your guiding principle for your greater ABM initiative.
Trap 4: random acts of marketing return.
Many organizations have organized marketing and sales plays around tactics, like the example of field events mentioned above. This has caused disjointed marketing campaigns to be placed into the market, given the impression of promotions rather than tightly integrated marketing campaigns. Your ABM campaigns should be focused on a conversation with a target buyer via relevant communications aligned with buyer stages. The former behavior causes marketers to lose focus and miss their revenue targets.
TIP: organize your ABM plays around your accounts and their buying groups. Do not fall into the temptation to do one-off promotions to targeted accounts.
Being aware of these traps will help you make this the year of ABM. Ensure you build a thoughtful, well-integrated ABM strategy that will focus on driving financial results. Who really likes comfort zones anyway?