Knowledge Center


Account-based marketing (ABM) cannot exist and succeed detached from your sales department. Whereas traditional marketing strategies and tactics (many of which are still highly effective and exist in parallel with ABM) can be implemented without sales being involved, successful ABM requires tight coordination to achieve the highest-possible results.

I had the pleasure of speaking at a Demandbase event last week in Seattle, and highlighted my eight keys for incorporating ABM with your sales team’s existing Target Account program. Here’s what I covered:

1. Make Sales An Initial Partner And Collaborator

Don’t build out your ABM program in isolation and send it to sales as a finished product. My advice?  Don’t call it ABM at all – literally don’t give it a name initially.  Instead, go to your sales team and tell them you want to work proactively to build an integrated marketing program that supports their Target Account plan. This way, your sales team will feel like part of the development, will appreciate that you’re supporting something they care about as well, and the final product will be a program that they will support and implement with you.

2. Work From Mutual Objectives & Definitions

This is important no matter what you’re doing, but ABM programs specifically drive a forced revenue responsibility for marketers that’s incredibly valuable. With ABM done right, marketing and sales are working from the same spreadsheet, the same set of goals, the very same playbook. This works even better if you also have a common set of definitions – what is a Target Account, what does it mean to have a qualified lead, a qualified opportunity, etc.

3. Create And Manage A Common Set Of Target Lists

If sales already has one, begin with theirs. Then fill in the blanks. Do they have thorough information on every company target? Do they have detailed information on each specific decision maker and persona target? How and where are those lists retained so that sales & marketing equally has access to them? How will those lists be updated – with new contacts, new information, activity & engagement detail, etc? If you manage this information separately, it will lead to (at best) overlapping activity and engagement, and (at worst) inefficiency, frustration, and a deterioration of collaboration between your two teams.

4. Execute From A Consolidated Engagement Strategy

It’s important for all sales & marketing efforts to appear, to the prospect, as if you’re communicating from a common messaging playbook, coordinating your outreach such that sales & marketing aren’t stepping over each other, etc. But the stakes are so much higher with an ABM program – there are fewer targets, fewer at-bats, so your margin of error is thinner than ever. Take the time to map out where sales and marketing are communication with and engaging your prospects. Marketing may be used to creating its own campaign strategy, but with ABM (to be most successful) that needs to directly incorporate sales activity and reach-outs as well.

5. Think In Terms Of Macro And Micro Campaigns

Just because it’s ABM, doesn’t mean you can’t have many campaigns. Segment by industry and persona, for example, and send multiple outbounds at once, then coordinate the follow up with your sales counterparts. But with ABM you have the chance to integrate these macro campaigns with much smaller, one on one efforts. What happens, for example, when a particular trigger event or buying signal is identified with a target account this morning? How do you make sure that’s it’s noticed, recorded, and responded to by sales and/or marketing? With an ABM effort, those real-time events are even more important to pounce on, and be prepared for in advance.

6. Develop Joint Data & Insights

Work from one integrated system, ONE scorecard. Develop a rhythm of review to evaluate results and make changes. Report on your work as one team, not sales & marketing separately.

7. Improve Your Content Accuracy

It’s more important than ever right now to create and deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time. That directive isn’t tied to ABM. But with the stakes higher, ABM often involves creating content for an audience of one more often. Instead of just delivering content to the right persona at the right buying stage, consider their unique situation and circumstances. What’s different about their role, their culture, their personality that might influence how you communicate, what you communicate, and the channel from which it is communicated?

8. Exercise The OODA Loop

Observe, orient, decide, act. Rinse and repeat. Know that your ABM plan up front will change over time, especially if you’re doing it right.

Originally posted on heinzmarketing.com

About the Author
Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.  Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. Matt is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.


Latest Articles
Most Read
NEW FROM THE CPSA: Sales Compensation Reports for Sales Pros & Sales Management
Key Findings from the CPSA Compensation Reports
CPSA DigiTalks Webinar Recording: Mastering the Art of the Sales Email
CPSA DigiTalks Webinar Recording: 5 Ways to Kick-Start your Sales Career