Is Account-Based Marketing the Holy Grail for Lead Generation Nirvana? [PowerOpinions Part 1]


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According to a report by SiriusDecisions, 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), more than 60 percent of companies plan to invest in technology for ABM to better align sales and marketing over the next twelve months. Is ABM the Holy Grail to lead generation or just another black box solution destined to cost a lot of money, distract marketing and end up getting more bad leads to sales faster than ever before?

I recently posed this question to fellow industry experts. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is hot right now, and the responses I received were excellent. In fact, five of the twelve went into so much detail the only way to do them justice is to run them individually. This will be a five-part series—the first of which is a compilation of eight brief but power-packed responses. The remaining four stand-alone blogs will follow.

Craig Rosenberg, aka The Funnelholic:

The operative words in the statistic from SiriusDecisions are “ABM technology.” While I am all in favor of ABM technology, marketers will fail if they fundamentally view Account-Based Marketing as technology. It’s not—it’s bigger than that. It’s a sales AND marketing strategy supported by a process managed by people and enabled by technology.

I started with Craig’s response because I think it is succinct and 100% on point. When you read about ABM you often read about selling to “markets of one.” As with other technologies, automating a bad process just leads to more bad results.

Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing:

I see ABM as a response to inbound marketing. Inbound is great, but it’s really like waiting for the phone to ring. You don’t have control over quantity and quality. You also can’t afford to wait until those Named Account targets happen to find your contact information and download something… Strategy first, technology second. The tech simply enables the right strategy, not the other way around.

Similar to Craig’s comments, Matt adds the dimension of ABM being a response, or what I would call a reaction, to the over-dependence on inbound marketing for the past 4 – 5 years. I am in total alignment with Matt that with inbound you get what comes in (or what Jon Miller at Engagio refers to as fishing with a net). With ABM you fish with a spear (again, this is from Jon Miller, co-founder of Marketo and founder of Engagio.) You can find a couple of great SlideShare presentations from Jon and Engagio here: Fishing With Spears and The Big 5 Metrics for Account-Based Marketing).

Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions:

I think it will take a while for marketers to develop the skills they need to pull it [ABM] off. However, for B2B marketers who already use personas—if they have been created with depth, signed off on by sales, and are actively used to inform content marketing strategy and sales enablement, then the shift to ABM should be easier… Like anything else, ABM is not one-size-fits-all.

Absolutely right, Ardath! My concern is that ABM will become another black-box solution in which technology supersedes strategy—continuing the trend of poor quality leads being dumped on sales AND more distance between marketing and sales.

Kyle Porter, Sales Loft:

ABM goes hand in hand with logo based sales process… We have personally seen good lift using retargeting solutions to help “totally surround” our prospects in addition to world-class sales development outbound programs.

Kyle, because of the solution he offers, introduces the IP-based marketing element of ABM. IP-based marketing may or may not make sense if you have a small market— such as several hundred total prospects.

Ginger Conlon, Direct Marketing News:

Front-office technology of any kind is only as good as the strategy it supports and the adoption it gets. So, whether account-based marketing (ABM) tools will be an asset that helps marketing and sales teams to collaborate and generate leads more effectively—or will face a fate similar to the high-tech treadmill that eventually serves only as a place to hang clothes—will wholly depend on the team who “owns” its adoption within an organization.

Let’s hang the clothes outdoors on a wooden rack, start small, and use the high-tech treadmill to drive incremental improvement.

Jamie Turner, 60 Second Communications and frequent CNN guest:

Yes, ABM is the new big thing, but it’s more than just a flash in the pan. If the technology plays out the way many people hope it will, ABM will improve close rates and conversion rates for the businesses that put it into action.

One way to look at this is to say that assuming the same amount of time is available (marketing and sales resources) AND ABM increases the amount of time per prospect, it will be important to pick your prospects well. And, it might be that you will end up with the same close rate but with a higher average deal size.

Sangram Vajre, Terminus:

Think of ABM as revenue generating—NOT lead generating. Focus on the right accounts to move the needle. Marketing and sales must sit down together to determine which accounts to target—this is where true alignment comes in. ABM aligns marketing and sales.

True alignment has been elusive. The earliest article I have read about marketing and sales alignment was written in 1993 (and there are probably earlier examples). It may be that contact information and marketing intelligence OR leads come before revenue. I would not expect sales to align with marketing unless they see incremental value.

David Raab, Raab Associates:

Here’s one way to view ABM: Think of it as a way to apply the traditional idea of target accounts to the new world where it’s possible to target messages and track behavior much more precisely than ever before.

Raab Associates provides consulting to help select the right tools and deploy them effectively. Targeting and tracking are keys to successful ABM. Just remember that the right strategy and process comes first, technology later.

Great insight from our first eight experts! Over the next two weeks we will run the remaining four blogs on the topic of ABM:

Part 2: Adam New-Waterson, LeanData
Part 3: James Obermayer, Sales Lead Management Association
Part 4: Scott Vaughn, Integrate
Part 5: Megan Heuer & Matthew Senatore, SiriusDecisions

Stay tuned!


I will be presenting on this topic on Sales and Marketing Management Magazine’s SMM Connect on September 23 at 1:00 PM EDT. If you miss the presentation live, look for SMM and Five Ways to Avoid Account-Based Marketing for a replay.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan McDade
Dan McDade founded PointClear in 1997 with the mission to be the first and best company providing prospect development services to business-to-business companies with complex sales processes. He has been instrumental in developing the innovative strategies that drive revenue for PointClear clients nationwide.


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