ABM is NOT about the technology. At All
As a B2B marketing agency, we interact with companies of all sizes, from upstart unicorns to large established marketing leaders. The buzz last couple of years has all been about Account-Based Marketing or ABM. We have been in meetings after meetings where marketers are either thinking, or evaluating, or implementing ABM strategies. Often the focus of these meetings is the technology platform that will enable ABM. What gets lost in the process is that ABM is not at all about the underlying technology. Success in ABM is one hundred percent determined by the process your ABM strategy takes.
ABM: the darling of MarTech
ABM has been the darling of the marketing technology world for some time. The craze got started with Jon Miller coining the category with the launch of Engagio in 2015. The number of vendors has constantly increased with every marketing automation vendor now touting their ABM chops. Interesting to see how the category has come full circly with the recent acquisition of Engagio by DemandBase.
Everyone starts with Technology
The typical ABM process includes the following steps:
- Technology Evaluation: ABM tools have been adopted by a lot of organizations and even more are jumping on the bandwagon. They go through a painstaking evaluation process where multiple vendors and platforms are evaluated and, frankly, minute feature differences are discussed ad nauseam.
- Deployment: Once the desired platform has been selected, the IT team spends time deploying the software. Integrations with the CRM, email system, data repositories etc. are also carried out in this
- Workflow Development: once the software is live, the marketing team starts designing the processes that will be used to implement the ABM strategy
BUT, it should be reversed
The problem with the standard ABM deployment process is that the most important part of the process, workflow development, is done within the constraints of the chosen ABM platform. Instead, the workflows should be designed independent of all software constraints and solely based on business and audience analysis. Then, the best ABM platform that can best help implement the ideal workflow should be selected. So the ideally process should instead be:
Marketers need to realize that ABM strategy comes first and then the platform, software, and implementation. This will not only lead to ABM success, it will save a lot of angst and wasted time!