ABM – How to approach it.

Lessons learned from FullFunnel.com

I. Right fit: Before diving into ABM strategy development, go through this ABM-fit checklist and evaluate your readiness to launch ABM.

1. Long sales cycle (>180 days)

If your sales cycle is short and transactional, I recommend focusing on demand capturing activities (ads, SEO, cold outreach) instead of ABM.

2. ACV (average contract value) > $30k.

Will it pay off to proactively market and prospect a specific set of accounts? I suggest considering ABM if the LTV or ACV of your best customers is higher than $30k.

3. Hybrid sales: product + consulting + best practices training.

ABM is extremely important when you don’t only sell products, but also sell your expertise in solving challenges your buyers have.

It includes product training, consulting alongside implementation, and training on best practices.

4. TAM (target addressable market) <1000 companies.

If your market is limited to 500–1000 companies across the globe, you have no other choices than ABM.

5. Multiple buyers are involved in vendor evaluation and buying processes.

If you usually deal with multiple people (3+) who influence the buying decision, ABM is a perfect strategy.

II. Questions to ask if your company is ready

1. Do we have clear ICP (Ideal customer profile) and account qualification criteria to build a list of companies that are likely to buy our product?

Select a vertical target using these criterial

  • Firmographics
  • Buying committee structure (roles, stages they join, reasons to buy and not to buy, KPIs)
  • Account qualification and disqualification criteria
  • Account segmentation
  • Account enrichment (buying and demand triggers, research, evaluation, and decision-making processes, channels, etc.)

According to fullfunnel, many B2B companies make two critical mistakes when developing ICP for ABM programs.

a) Develop ICP based on a wish list of big logos. 

Makes sure your ideal customer has a real need for your product. Don’t sell just because of their brand.

b) Don’t go too broad with the ICP definition.

Don’t take a one size fits all approach.

2. Do we have a value proposition and collateral for specific vertical and job roles?

Your value proposition should be tailored to specific vertical and individual buyers.

Keep in mind that there is always a risk of bringing an unknown/not well-known vendor. You need to create a buyer enablement program for a selected vertical to mitigate these risks, including

  • Vertical implementation case studies
  • Testimonials
  • ROI justification
  • Migration process
  • Security, etc.

3. Do we have a clear playbook to create awareness inside target accounts, generate demand, and activate them?

ABM requires manual account development, including

  • connections with multiple buying committee members
  • engaging and building relationships with them
  • identifying their needs and educating them on different ways to solve their challenges
  • coming up with personalized solutions.

4. Can we create a dedicated ABM team that doesn’t have pipeline pressure and has time to build ABM motion?

As you can see from the ABM-fit checklist, launching the ABM program will take time. You need a dedicated team that can commit at least 70% of their time to run the program for the next 3–6 months.

Otherwise, in 2–6 weeks you’ll hear that “it doesn’t work”, and the program will be shut down.

5. Do we have an alignment between marketing, sales, and executives on how to measure the campaign’s progress and performance?

Establish swim lanes – who does what

Establish weekly or monthly check ins (how often are you going to update your team)

Make sure you allocate the right resources.

III. Challenges of ABM

Companies don’t think about market fit and implement the following tactics:

  1. Create a wishlist of accounts and upload it to LinkedIn or ABM platforms (DemandBase, 6sense, etc.)
  2. Run IP-based display ads promoting landing pages, webinars, or gated PDFs.
  3. Track clicks, sign-ups, or downloads and send these «leads» to sales.
  4. Marketing: Follow up with direct mail swags that contain branded t-shirts/mugs & a box of sweeties
  5. Sales: add decision-makers from these accounts to the multichannel outreach sequence.

Why is this ABM setup doomed?

Here are 4 reasons.

  • The B2B buyer journey is not linear. Clicks and downloads ≠ buying intent.
  • Reach is miserable. B2B buyers spend most of their time outside platforms LinkedIn or ABM platforms can cover (Salesforce, Teams, Sharepoint, etc.)
  • Lack of demand. Demand can’t be created via display ads only.
  • Lack of personalization. Enterprise accounts ignore non-personalized messages from vendors they have never heard about.

IV. To create a successful ABM strategy, you need to nail down 8 pillars.

  1. Goal setting
  2. Ideal customer profile
  3. Account list building
  4. Account research and value proposition mapping
  5. Account development (warm-up and activation) playbook
  6. Team and skillset
  7. Stack
  8. Reporting and tracking

I’ll review each of the pillars in the next section.

How to build an AB