I had an amazing week recently, visiting Dublin and Stockholm with a SiriusDecisions team that included Nicky Briggs, research director for our Account-Based Marketing Strategies advisory service, and Isabel Montesdeoca, our EMEA head of research. In each city, SiriusDecisions hosted a forum for European B2B leaders, where Nicky and Isabel presented our latest research and answered questions about account-based marketing (ABM). Isabel provided a recap of some of the key points from the presentation in her post “Six Tips for Organizations Considering Account-Based Marketing,” so I’ll take a different approach in this post, recapping answers to some of the key questions that attendees at the forums and others have asked about ABM.
What is account-based marketing?
The SiriusDecisions definition is: “ABM is a strategic approach that aligns demand creation programs and messaging against a set of defined accounts and goals, in a way that is relevant and valuable to those accounts and to sales.” During the forums in Dublin and Stockholm, Nicky highlighted the SiriusDecisions ABM Process Framework, which identifies the five ABM process steps as well as the foundational elements that best-in-class ABM initiatives have in place.
What are the benefits of ABM?
As discussed in the forums, benchmark data from the SiriusDecisions Command Center® shows that organizations that have deployed ABM programs are realizing the following benefits:
- Increased engagement. Seventy-five percent of respondents saw account engagement rise 25 percent or more, and 50 percent saw engagement with C-level buyers rise 25 percent or more.
- Increased deal size. Ninety-one percent of respondents said average deal size is higher in ABM accounts, and 27 percent said average deal size in those accounts is more than 50 percent higher.
- Increased conversion. One in four respondents reported a 50 percent or higher improvement in conversion rates of qualified opportunities to closed/won deals.
What is the Demand Spectrum?
All of an organization’s accounts find their place along a spectrum categorized by different levels of insight into each account type and different types of engagement and account-based customization that are appropriate. The right approach varies depending on each organization’s targets – there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. The SiriusDecisions Demand Spectrum model includes three main elements:
- Account insights. The level of insight ranges from basic account insights – when demand creation focus is driven by market information and little is known about individual accounts – to comprehensive and advanced levels of insight (e.g. contact, hierarchy and relationship data; verified insight into an account’s future plans).
- Joint account-level engagement. The second element considers the relationship between sales and marketing, especially regarding account planning and coordination between the two functions. At one extreme, marketing reactively follows business and sales plans but does not coordinate with sales when undertaking specific demand creation activities. At the other extreme, account-based planning and execution are fully integrated between sales and marketing.
- Account-specific customization. The third element of the Demand Spectrum examines how tailored the engagement strategy is for a given account (or group of accounts). Depending on the organization’s needs and its state of ABM maturity, it may deliver very limited customization in its demand creation approach. At the other end of the scale, the organization may deploy a highly customized tactic mix mapped to each account’s needs.
My biggest takeaway from these sessions was the concept of varying customization for accounts and recognizing the need to categorize the degree of customization. Having spoken with many organizations who are either “doing ABM” or “not doing ABM,” learning about the Demand Spectrum has provided me with more consistent nomenclature to aptly express the range of potential alternatives.
The Demand Spectrum spans the continuum between broad-based marketing and ABM, expressing every option across that range. It allows us to visualize maturity in some cases, and planned minimum effort in others. I loved the experience of attending these forums, as they brought a new structure to ABM demand creation planning – and I got a short trip back home!