There’s no question that account-based marketing (ABM) has proven its success in B2B. According to Forrester’s Demand, ABM, And Customer Marketing Survey, 2023, 99% of those with an ABM team said that their ABM programs delivered higher ROI versus their traditional marketing programs.

Here at Forrester, we’ve talked about the convergence of demand and ABM for years. But we still see B2B organizations struggling to bring the best of ABM into everything that they do. While most are investing heavily in data and insights, they still have challenges interpreting and operationalizing those insights. And of course, while marketing and sales might be aligned overall within the context of ABM, it’s a different story as soon as you get outside of that context.

ABM has changed the game in B2B marketing, and it’s not done yet. The united, focused, and customer-centric approach that ABM brought forth is here to stay. But while advancements in technology have enabled greater scale, scale is not what will power profitable growth in B2B.

Strategic ABM to large accounts in a 1:1 motion has been successful — and durable — because of this fact. In some B2B organizations, there are a handful of customers who have an outsized impact not only on the bottom line but on the future direction and ultimate success of the company. While that statement may not be true in every organization, even those with thousands of customers and more or quicker or smaller deals need to think about the strategic impact of their customer segments in order to ensure that their revenue-responsible teams are focusing their efforts on buyers that will not only become customers but strong partners and advocates.

Targeting everyone who is in market in a certain firmographic segment is not the same as focusing on customer value.

As revenue marketing platforms advance and become more deeply embedded and heavily used across frontline marketing functions, orchestration around buying-group insights will underpin everything that sales and marketing does and how they work together. Frontline marketers must understand that their new charge won’t just be to identify and engage buyers but to prioritize opportunities. Not all opportunities are equally valuable to an organization, and not all contribute to profitable growth. B2B marketers will ultimately have to show that they are not only being effective but also efficient in their efforts to win and grow their most valuable customers.

To do this, frontline marketers will need to:

  • Define and understand customer value and strategic impact. This means thinking not only beyond the sale to influence retention, adoption, expansion, and advocacy but also building relationships and guiding investment decisions around buyers as partners to further the goals of the business strategy at large.
  • Evaluate marketing’s lift-to-investment ratio against lifetime value. Frontline marketers will need to show not only that they are engaging accounts but that they are investing efficiently in a way that impacts customer value.
  • Bring together not only marketing and sales but customer success and product teams. Aligning around customer value for an intentionally constrained set of customers is not just the mission of ABM — it’s a central tenet of the customer-obsessed growth engine. Those who can successfully bring in their customer success and product teams will be well positioned to champion customer obsession throughout the organization.

Forrester clients can check out my latest report on this topic for more details on what it will take to harness the future of ABM.