Measurement is what keeps us disciplined and transparent. If we share numbers that are accurate, relevant and holistic, then we optimize our chances of winning buy-in, growing our resource levels and ultimately delivering clear and demonstrable success. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds—maybe even thousands—of clients seeking to demonstrate ABM success. Those who do it best use the eight principles described below.
Assess maturity. From the outset, consider your maturity level and how well your organization plans and executes ABM strategies. ABM newbies may start by assessing a small subset of results for a first foray, leaving a cross-departmental, holistic view of ABM performance for a later time. By candidly assessing your ABM maturity level, it will become easier to set metrics that deliver value but are attainable.
Consider time horizons. You need metrics that reflect short-, medium- and long-term success. Often, organizations will have vanity metrics such as clicks or website visits, and they may even have access (typically through sales) to pipeline or bookings numbers. But if medium-term engagement metrics are missing in action, then it’s impossible to join the dots from top-of-funnel metrics all the way down to pipeline and sales bookings. What is the result? Marketing loses credibility.
Focus on opportunities with a buying group. Consider the buyers that you’re attempting to influence. Identify targeted decision-makers and seek to engage them proactively. This means knowing what types of individuals play important roles—from the economic decision-maker (the budget-holder) to the champion in a deal (the lieutenant who typically shepherds the evaluation process) all the way through to key influencers and ratifiers (such as legal, procurement or security). Handing off to sales with more members of this buying group engaged should translate into a stronger acceleration of opportunities.
Gauge your internal audience. Map your key stakeholders and what they should be doing with the information your ABM dashboard is providing them. Do you need to make the case for increased funds from your CMO? Or is there a need to operationally track how particular activities are performing? Perhaps both of these are key needs. In fact, it is a best practice to have multiple views of reporting to meet the needs of different internal audiences at different levels.
Lock in data sources. The ability to build an ABM dashboard is only as good as the availability of data to populate it in an automated, accurate and predictable way. It may be that you can’t access data as it’s in a silo, for data protection reasons or because the data is dirty or unmanaged. Alternatively, there may be soft factors in play: People in a certain department are just too busy, or they haven’t bought into why this is important. So tell them and start removing roadblocks.
Invest in reporting technologies. You need a way to access data that may be different than in the past, so it’s important to audit availability. Data will need to be aggregated across sources and platforms, and you will need to be able to slice and dice by account and/or cluster. Reporting should be dynamic to see trends—for example, accounts showing surging interest or moving into later sales stages. And consider investing in visualization technologies that automate reporting and facilitate communication.
Build an operations partnership. Reporting on ABM is no solo role; it’s a shared responsibility where complementary skills are intertwined. An ABM leader brings the vision and know-how to key audiences, suggesting how and when reports are issued and what success looks like. Marketing ops experts bring an ABM leader’s vision to life, creating a data strategy, determining what’s possible and where there are gating factors such as limited availability of data sources. These two functions must work hand in hand for successful ABM program measurement.
Be realistic. Sometimes the ABM technology stack can be a suboptimal mishmash, and often data can be elusive and hard to integrate. Accept that peak ABM success takes time and there’s no shame in treating this as an iterative process.
Above all else, recognize that ABM measurement done well is not simply a tweak from “regular” reporting. ABM measurement requires new tools, new processes and often new technologies. But fear not. There are many ways to make the change manageable, and the key is to get started. Get started forging a strong partnership between ABM and operations leaders. Get started auditing what data sources are available. Get started measuring a patch of accounts with the capabilities you have today. It may take some time to have the ultimate ABM dashboard, but you’ll be on the right path.
This blog post was originally first published to Forbes.com