What is account-based marketing? A beginner’s guide

What is account-based marketing? A beginner’s guide

In the early 2000s, B2B marketers started using account-based marketing (ABM). It was a new approach to onboarding and converting high quality prospect accounts. Today, ABM is a widely used tactic that many companies use to close opportunities with prospects and sell them to existing customers. But what is ABM and how, when and why should you use it?

Let’s start with the “why”. Recent survey data shows that 91% of respondents claim ABM-won accounts have a larger average business size. They also report that a quarter of these deals are at least 50% larger than non-ABM deals. (1)

In addition, companies using ABM generated 208% more sales for their marketing efforts in 2016. (2) That number is certainly higher today as ABM continues to grow.

What is account-based marketing?

Rather than building a broad network to attract more leads, account-based marketers work with sales to identify and reach potential customers who are most suitable and of great value for their product or service. Much research is required, which we will discuss below.

At ABM, you need to treat each prospect as if they were a separate market with special needs, challenges, and goals. There are no carpet bomb marketing campaigns. All contacts are direct one-to-one communication.

Account-based marketing is used almost exclusively by B2B companies. This is due to the complexity of the B2B sales cycle and the number of people involved in the decision-making process.

Important considerations about ABM

Because ABM is so different from traditional “bulk” marketing, it’s important to understand some of the key components of ABM and how they work.

Ideal customer profiles

Developing ideal customer profiles (ICPs) is similar to creating and adapting buyer personalities to the buyer journey. However, they differ in important ways.

For example, two people in the same potential organization may have competing goals or conflicting opinions. This should be noted in your parent ICP. For an ABM to be successful, you need to take detailed, detailed notes and understand your prospects in a much deeper and more personal way. You need to know and anticipate every minute detail that can affect the sales cycle and buying process.

Humanization of perspective: high quality vs. high volume

ABM is about focusing on the quality of the prospect rather than generating a high volume of leads. With ABM, marketing and sales can contact pre-qualified leads rather than unqualified, cold leads. Lead scoring can help identify the most salable potential customers. Ultimately, a highly qualified prospect with a proven propensity to buy is worth 100 cold leads who have shown no interest.

The first time you contact your prospect, it will feel like they are talking to an old friend, not a faceless salesperson. In this way, ABM is similar to humanized marketing.

Alignment of sales and marketing

Aligning sales and marketing is critical to ABM. The collaboration between these two teams must be airtight for ABM to function properly. Once you’ve identified your potential target accounts, start doing individual research. This initiates a number of steps that are required for successful account-based marketing.

In addition, sales and marketing will work better together with improved business transparency and when the entire ABM process is managed in a unified CRM.

ABM Prospect Research

Marketing and sales conduct extensive research on every single prospect. You will learn who the decision-makers are, what needs the company has, what weaknesses, goals, what history it has and what additional insights you can find.

With a unified CRM, much of this data is easily available to both teams, which prevents misunderstandings or misinterpretations of data. The remaining required research will be done on social media via internet research and wherever information about the prospect and their decision-makers can be found.

When to use ABM

You don’t need to use an account-based marketing approach every time you search. ABM does not replace traditional marketing, it complements it.

If you use ABM for every potential customer, the risk / reward ratio drops significantly. You will be spending a lot of time researching a prospect who ends up signing a small contract. The resulting cost of doing the research and learning the prospect is higher than the revenue from your account-based marketing tactic.

Instead, you want to reserve your ABM strategy only for the potential customers with the highest potential to buy. If either of them signs a five-year contract and brings in a few hundred thousand dollars in recurring income, your efforts have not been in vain.

Advantages of account-based marketing

By now you’ve got a glimpse into some of the key benefits of an ABM campaign. First and foremost, the main benefit of ABM is more sales. Second, by eliminating dead-end contact, you save a lot of time and can more easily acquire new, high-quality customers who will give stability to the future of your business.

These overarching advantages result from:

  • Enabling sales to focus their attention and energy on high-quality prospects
  • Reducing the time spent on cold contacts
  • Dramatically increase your closed / won rates
  • A better, more personal customer experience and buyer journey for your most valuable prospects and customers
  • Greater efficiency and time savings that can be spent developing deeper customer relationships
  • Easier to track results to see what works. Your unified CRM can track every interaction your teams have with individual potential accounts and the contacts in those accounts
  • Better alignment of sales and marketing, which of course leads to faster sales growth

What do you learn more about ABM?

Keep an eye out for our next article on account-based marketing. In this article, we covered the basics of ABM. In our next article, we’ll look at ABM best practices and how a unified CRM can drive your success.


1. State of Account Based Marketing, Sirius Decisions, 2017

2. “Weekly Flipping of Funnels: Account-Based Marketing Is Not the Death of Anything,” Terminus, 2016