ABM: The Art of the Start (Avention)

This morning, sales and marketing intelligence vendor Avention unveiled a survey and set of recommendations on implementing Account Based Marketing strategies.  ABM is quickly moving from a buzzword to an actionable strategy for strategically targeting your best customers and prospects.  If you are considering an ABM strategy or researching how to move forward with ABM, Avention’s “Account-Based Marketing: The Art of the Start – Leveraging a Strong Data Foundation to Fuel ABM Success” guide is now available.

The Avention Survey of over 100 top level B2B executives (e.g. CEO, CMO, VP of Sales) found that ABM strategies require “careful data-driven planning, execution and monitoring.”  Furthermore, the lack of data access and quality are “fundamental impediments” that need to be resolved for ABM strategies to succeed.

ABM is based upon strategic targeting of your best accounts and similar companies.  If your underlying data is poor you will have problems with best customer cloning, account messaging, and drilling deeper into organizations for cross-sell and upsell.  Furthermore, “once a program is started, it is essential that account and market news and events be monitored to ensure programs remain relevant.”

Todd Berkowitz, research vice president for Gartner1 wrote in a January report, “By getting a better view of customer data, creating predictive models, employing account-based marketing, and creating internal and external-facing content specifically for existing customers, even marketing leaders from smaller providers can increase the likelihood of success.”

90% of the surveyed B2B execs believe that ABM is relevant to their organization and 86% are confident that ABM will drive growth; however, 75% are having trouble finding the appropriate contacts for selling deeper into target organizations, and more than fifty percent of B2B marketers lack an ability to monitor and adjust programs directed towards ABM accounts due to a lack of real-time intelligence.

AV ABM Survey
ABM Survey of B2B Executives republished with permission from Avention.

Avention noted that ABM is a long-term strategy that requires continuously updated account and contact intelligence if campaigns are to remain relevant.  For example, messages and offers may need to be adjusted due to key events such as executive changes.

Avention CEO Steve Pogorzelski summarized the ABM implementation problems found in the survey:

Almost two-thirds of the marketers responding to our survey report not having access to a single source of truth for customer data.  This obviously impedes starting an ABM program and running it to successful conclusion, as such programs demand access to accurate and continually updated market and account data.  ABM offers enterprises the opportunity to quickly fuel their customer acquisition, growth and retention strategies.

Pogorzelski noted that Avention provides three capabilities which support sales, marketing, and sales operations ABM responsibilities:

  • Marketing: “Consolidation and visualization of in-house customer data for sophisticated segmentation.” (For more on these capabilities, see my February blog on the launch of their DataVision platform).
  • Sales: Strategic intelligence concerning companies and contacts along with predictive indicators.
  • Sales Operations: CRM and Marketing Automation ecosystem connectivity.

Finally, I would note that traditional approaches to marketing data quality which involve annual data cleanses are insufficient to meet ABM and predictive marketing needs.  Marketing data, particularly contacts, ages quickly.  The lack of a continuous data quality strategy will result in a drop-off in sales and marketing productivity as contact and company data decays.

1 Gartner, Tech-Go-to-Market: Four Ways Marketers can Generate Demand with Existing Accounts, January 29, 2016

Full Disclosure: I broadly advise companies across the sales intelligence space including Avention.  While I periodically write commissioned blogs for Avention, none of my commentary on my own blog or social media accounts is commissioned.

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