The right balance to help growing businesses kick off a scalable ABM practice

Looking to kick off ABM in your business but not sure where to start? It’s not as tricky as you might think, and the benefits of a well-executed ABM practice are often felt from the offset. I’ve pulled together some top tips and insights to fuel your inspiration and help you get started on your ABM journey.

According to Rollworks:

  • 87% of marketers say ABM outperforms other marketing activities
  • 62% of marketers say they can measure a positive impact since adopting ABM
  • 80% of marketers say ABM improves customer lifetime values, while 86% say it improves win rates

With such a proven track record of higher ROI levels, it’s easy to see why marketers want a slice of ABM in their marketing plans.

Saying that though, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when kicking off ABM. It needs budget, engagement, and collaboration from across the business to bring the programme to life. It’s a high-input activity, but also high return.

Give ABM the right amount of love, and you’ll reap the benefits. But where do you start, how do you let it grow, and how do you ensure it doesn’t flop?

Where ABM programmes fail

One of the most important areas to consider, and where I’ve repeatedly seen the main blocker, isn’t what you might think. Yes, allocating and/or securing budget is a barrier to overcome, but the main reason ABM programmes fail is down to time and resource.

If you’re building an ABM programme from the ground up, there will likely need to be a change in approach and mindset to how you run campaigns and how you work with sales. Like I said earlier, this takes time, and this shift in approach will require dedicated ABM time from across several departments of your business.

Your individual team members (i.e. marketing, sales or services) will each need to provide a small chunk of their time and dedicate it to ABM. If we add all these chunks together and strip it right back, we get what we can call the ‘ABM capacity box’, which looks something like the below:

We now have a, albeit rudimentary, breakdown and understanding of our capacity for ABM.  So we can start to think about the individual elements that go into an ABM programme, right from the initial kick-off, to setup, through to execution. To add another layer, we can roughly size these in terms of effort and resource required and you get:

Now, if I was a tech whiz, I would have loved to develop a drag and drop interface for you to fill up your ABM capacity box with everything you wanted. Alas, I do not have those technical capabilities, so you’re going to have to use your imagination and visualise this with me.

Say you wanted 5x 1:1s, 3x 1:Clusters, and some bespoke content creation. All of which require workshops, account strategy & messaging, programme management and reporting; your box quickly becomes overfilled. It’s ok for the first couple of weeks, but pretty quickly the ABM team will be stretched and become frustrated and disengaged. All of a sudden, the momentum and excitement stops, and the programme flops.

As such, you need to take the time from the offset to consider how you should pilot the programme as effectively as possible.

The best place to start

For some accounts, where contract value and opportunities are high, and customer advocacy is front of mind, we recommend an ABM pilot for a handful of your strategic accounts. This would mean taking a 1:1 approach.

For growing businesses though, the best place to start (in my experience) is with a handful of clusters with 20 priority accounts or so. This allows you to get a feel for how the proposition can be uniquely angled and what type of segmentation makes sense as you build up the program. This is a much more cost-effective approach and will still give the insights needed to effectively grow results and the programme.

Once the pilot is complete, you can assess the successes of the campaign and identify areas that can be optimised. As the results flood in, so will the team’s appetite for ABM, who will want to scale the programme, and you might even get additional budget to add some dedicated ABM resource to the team. Thus, the ABM capacity box grows, and you can make the choice to expand to 1:1 accounts, include more accounts in the clusters, start new cluster campaigns that weren’t identified in the pilot, or start initiating broader 1:Many campaigns.

Like I said, it takes time to get the ball rolling and it can feel like a stretch on resource, because the most effective ABM programmes will touch many people across your business. But as people get used to the process, it gets progressively easier and faster to jump through the steps.

Start low, take it slow –> Test, evaluate, learn, and optimise –> Template, scale, and repeat.

Bringing in the cavalry…

If you are looking for a shortcut to building a commercially successful ABM programme, this is where you can engage agency resources to support. We’ve had a range of experience setting up, executing and evaluating multiple ABM programmes across a range of businesses, which has given us expertise and knowledge, driving quality and speed in the programmes we run. Our input provides recommendations on both the best place for your business to start, and how best to get to market fast.

We work side-by-side with your internal marketing stakeholders who own the overall vision and decisions, to guide the strategy and planning, and do the heavy lifting on research, workshops, content creation, ops setup, and much more. If we refer back to the analogy I mentioned earlier, agencies are a great way to rapidly grow your ABM capacity box.

If you do have any questions about the right way to setup ABM in your business, I’d love to have a chat. You can reach me at jake@see-blue.co.uk.

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