- Lots of technology vendors claim to be the best account-based marketing (ABM) vendor
- Many tech vendors play an important role in an ABM practitioner’s strategy, execution and measurement
- Strategy, process and alignment are critical – it’s not enough to plug in a new technology
It seems like every week, there are new technology vendors popping up and claiming to be “the leaders in account-based marketing (ABM).” Many of them have excellent platforms and/or strong solution capabilities. Some also have visionary leaders who are actively building comprehensive roadmaps and forming key alliances for integration and partnership opportunities. Some have all the above and are helping to serve b-to-b organizations that wish to execute ABM.
But that doesn’t mean that their solution in and of itself is the silver bullet. Furthermore, there isn’t any one technology vendor that can meet all of your needs across the entire ABM process. That’s like saying there’s one vendor for all of your sales or marketing efforts.
We define ABM as a strategic approach that aligns b-to-b marketing and sales to be more efficient and effective at winning, growing and retaining targeted accounts – while delivering differentiated value to the customer. ABM is about strategy, process, organizational re-alignment (in some instances), change management and communication. And these elements, especially communication, are more important than just technology alone. After all, what’s the point of having the world’s most sophisticated navigation system in your car if you have no idea of where you want to go?
Don’t get me wrong – technology is a vital enabler of ABM, especially when organizations are looking to execute in a more scalable fashion (one-to-few/one-to-many). To that end, we see successful organizations deploying leading solutions from a variety of vendors for a variety of use cases: identifying target accounts in a more predictable fashion, identifying account buying signals, gathering account and contact discovery, assisting in account planning, targeting (and retargeting) specific accounts via display advertising, personalizing the Web experience, nurturing contacts via email, identifying customer advocates and measuring ABM efforts.
What these successful implementations have in common is a sound strategy for what they want to accomplish and how they’re using the technology to achieve their stated goals. Technology solutions can’t deliver full value without alignment in place. Examples include having agreement on what your ABM program will accomplish and how it fits into the current go-to-market approach, clear definition of roles and responsibilities for ABM across marketing and sales (not just with regard to technology deployment, but for all facets), and agreement on goals within the ABM target accounts, as well as what measures will be tracked to show success.
Technology has helped ABM become a must-try strategy for b-to-b. With the right foundation, processes and skills to help those technologies deliver, ABM can become a must-keep strategy for the long term.