- Approximately one in seven account-based marketing (ABM) programs (13.6 percent) doesn’t have an ABM leader in place
- ABM activities are often added to marketers’ already-full plates – having an ABM leader ensures success can be repeatable, sustainable and efficient
- Three key characteristics of successful ABM leaders include leadership, passion for process and passion for people
“If everyone owns it, no one owns it” is a common business expression used to demonstrate the need for a person to be responsible and accountable for the success of something (e.g. program, project/initiative, process). No expression could be more pertinent in the world of account-based marketing (ABM). Yet, according to the ABM data in the SiriusDecisions Command Center®, nearly one in seven respondents – 13.6 percent – indicated that the ABM program has zero part-time or full-time leaders in place. Instead, ABM activities are piled on to other marketers’ responsibilities.
I can assure you: If your organization relies on everyone to own ABM with no clear figurehead in place, you will fail. You might have a success or two, but these won’t be efficient, repeatable or sustainable.
So now that you know you need an ABM point person, let’s look at the three most critical characteristics this leader must have:
- Leadership. Saying no. Getting others to say yes (and bring people with them). Asking the tough questions. Making decisions with limited insights. Removing barriers. Dealing with politics and personal agendas. These are just some of the day-to-day realities of being a leader – and the same holds true for ABM. The ABM leader should be well regarded throughout the organization by marketing and sales, and may often have experience in both functions. He or she has made significant organizational contributions and carries credibility. He or she must understand the bigger picture and think strategically, but also be dedicated to operational excellence – which leads me to the next characteristic.
- Passion for process. Having a process is what makes success repeatable, scalable and measurable. It drives efficiency across teams, regions and business units and a common understanding of ABM. A consistent process deconstructs the vision into a series of steps and outcomes (each potentially with its own set of processes) – outlining how to get to that future state. However, the ABM leader also must be flexible in certain situations. For example, there should be a process for working with portfolio marketing teams for new content creation requirements. But what happens when you need an unforeseen content asset to help enable sales to close a big deal, and the content creators are at maximum capacity? You guessed it – the ABM leader needs to make a call to adapt.
- Passion for people. Not everyone has the right competencies to work on ABM programs or in an ABM function. A successful ABM leader seeks to identify and assess for the right fit; works to upskill and increase the demonstrable value of each teammate; and continually looks for ways to challenge, grow, recognize and retain their highly desirable ABM marketers.