The short definition of ABM: it's when marketing people and salespeople truly work together.
The longer, more exact definition: it's an intense collaboration between people who bring different but equally significant skills to drive client acquisition.
It's a contract between marketing and sales that covers:
Which companies to hunt
Which decision-makers from those companies to hunt
And lastly, a firm handshake on what sales and marketing is responsible for in the hunt
Simple, right? It is easy to grasp conceptually, but when it comes to implementation, well, that's a whole other story...
Here are the steps HubSpot outlines for the marketing half of ABM implementation
Some of you may be thinking this is just good ole fashioned "targeted outbound," but it's important to consider how ABM diverges.
First of all, the "A" in ABM isn't silent.
Both marketing and sales departments know the exact accounts and decision-makers by name and job title, the industry's business drivers, and the person's typical questions and challenges around technology.
Whereas with "targeted outbound," accounts are always identified beforehand, which means some marketing tactics, like pay-per-click campaigns, won't reach decision-makers the sales team is hunting. The lack of sales and marketing coordination is why most "targeted outbound" doesn't convert well.
It's time for an ABM example to show why sales and marketing integration is key.
ACME Manufacturing is a target account. John is the CEO, and Tim is the Controller.
Marketing creates a letter addressed to John that introduces the MSP, shares tips on cybersecurity for manufacturing, and in terms, a CEO would understand.
Sales cold-calls ACME and asks to speak with John. It takes four calls over several weeks until John finally takes the call and says, "no, thank you."
Sales updates the target account in the CRM, and Marketing adjusts the primary contact to Tim for another mailing.
Sales sends a LinkedIn connection to Tim, and several e-mails that are tailored to a Controller in manufacturing as a last-ditch attempt and sets the account to be recycled.
Tim sees the mail sent to John, visits the recent blogs about manufacturing, accepts the connection request, and hears the voicemail. He decides to call the MSP back and schedule an appointment.
Why does ABM Rule?
ABM is not a "new" B2B strategy. Companies, especially enterprise firms, have done this for a long time. But it is fair to say that ABM has grown in popularity recently. Prominent Martech vendors, like Salesforce and HubSpot, talk about ABM more and plenty of "gurus" as well, and I think there a few big reasons it's perfect for MSPs.
#1 reason is that how SMBs decide on vendors and partners is longer and more complex than how it used to be. And ABM mirrors every step they take along the way, no matter what phase they are in or how many people are involved.
#2 reason ABM has sprung up is because vendor technology, like HubSpot, has improved dramatically, so much that it not only enables better implementation but also, better measurement and attribution after the fact.
Here are statistics and a video to back up my first point
Today, there are an average of 7 decision-makers involved in the B2B buying process. And, 50-90% of the journey is complete before a buyer interacts with a sales rep.Spotio.
Once your buyers begin to realize that they have a particular pain point, the research begins. For 72% of buyers, they’ll turn to Google. The first stage of research begins with general search terms as buyers explore the options at their disposal. Buyers are usually looking for educational material, customer reviews, and testimonials at this stage. Pardot.
And here's Gary's take on LinkedIn's role in all this