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ABM Insight Report: How to prove value in ABM programs

July 18, 2017

If sales and marketing work hand in hand it's not hard to see where value has been created throughout the process and there will be far less bickering and disagreement about who 'created' the sale.

Any business project leader needs to demonstrate value in some shape or form but that truism masks one of the great dilemmas of commercial life: how do you show a return on investment when it’s not always possible to draw direct lines between spend and gain? Account Based Marketing (ABM) works by improving relationships between seller and key people in accounts and target accounts, but often it would be hard to say that a particular insight into that account or person has led definitively to a sale. So how do you prove value?

“It varies massively and depends on what your strategy is,” says Agent3’s Peter Lundie, “but the ABM program has to show demonstrable movement. At a large company, 80 per cent of revenue might come from 20 per cent of customers and only 20 per cent of the [seller’s] portfolio might be sold into big customers. You have to look for all the signals that you’re going to sell more to customers, find new opportunities, build quality of relationships, strengthen defense in accounts that are under threat, increase share of wallet, drive engagement with buyers, see website usage grow, move up into a relationship with higher roles, get on pipeline and accelerate sales processes.”

Chris Boorman, CMO of business automation company Automic Software, believes that ABM can help foster that much prized asset of “a single version of the truth” where sales and marketing departments can see how the latter is helping the former and the arguing and finger-pointing stops. “Fundamentally, the value of this comes down to the revenue you get from your target accounts,” he says. “If you’re investing in ABM you would expect to see a more productive sales organization. It can help build more leads and find more buying centers but at the end of the day you’re going to have to help drive value from an account”. Boorman says that if sales and marketing work hand in hand it’s not hard to see where value has been created throughout the process and there will be far less bickering or disagreement about who ‘created’ the sale. “But if you’re saying an ABM tool can drive alignment between sales and marketing my immediate reaction is ‘bullshit’,” he cautions. “Technology in and of itself does not align a sales and marketing organization – it’s all about people, processes and technology, communications, trust and shared goals.”

Agent3’s Clive Armitage agrees, saying that modern marketing is a ‘show me the money’ engagement: “Marketing today is agile and in pursuit of one thing: clear revenue opportunities. Sales and marketing teams need to communicate, collaborate, plan, review and agree metrics – together.” But Julie Woods-Moss, chief marketing and communications officer at network services giant Tata Communications, notes that ABM value can lie in many places. “If you go into a customer and they say ‘you’ve really made me think and it’s been a wonderful conversation’ that is self-fulfilling and the customer sees value,” she adds. Click here to download the full ABM Insight Report and learn about more ABM best practices across the following fundamental areas:

  • Selecting the right accounts
  • Targeting the right decision-makers
  • Identifying the right channels of engagement throughout the customer lifecycle
  • Leveraging the power of predictive analytics
  • Aligning sales and marketing
  • Managing change to ensure ABM success

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