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How to scale your ABM programs [Part 2 of 2]

Greg Salmon

April 11, 2024

In today's competitive landscape, marketing leaders must meet a growing list of expectations. Not only to increase converted revenue, but to reduce cost and complexity along the way. This has underpinned an increase in the prominence - and levels of expectation - around Account Based Marketing in the B2B marketing mix.

In the first part of this strategy series we explored how ABM at Scale can lower customer acquisition cost (CAC) and maximize customer lifetime value (CLV) by blending the best of ‘true’ or ‘precision’ ABM, with the efficiency, scale and reach of demand generation tactics.

In comparison to the fixed ‘swimlanes’ of traditional 1:1, 1:few, and 1:many ABM, our ABM at Scale model offers a fluid approach, linking the level of focus and investment around any given account to the level of opportunity at play.

So far, so good. But now it’s time to get into exactly how all this is accomplished, and that’s what we’ll be exploring in the second part of our two-part series. We’ll provide you with practical solutions, actionable insights, best practices, and real-world examples to help navigate the (many) complexities of scaling ABM in your organization.

1. ABM at Scale - situational context


Before we delve into tactics and methodology, let's take a brief look back at the principles of ABM at Scale:

  1. Be fluid, then focus
    ABM at Scale is fluid, allocating both focus and budget according to the opportunity at play. It begins by targeting dynamically personalized, multi-channel digital campaigns across a segmented target account list (TAL). This creates a foundation from which to track interest and engagement signals across each account.
  2. Use propensity to pinpoint potential
    As the initial 1:many-style campaign is live, Agent3 tracks multiple 1st and 3rd party propensity signifiers to create a “leaderboard.” The leaderboard provides a data-informed method for choosing the accounts that deserve increased time, resources, and effort across Marketing, BDR, and Sales teams. This lets us “surround” target stakeholders on priority accounts with tailored messaging and outreach, based on accumulated insights.
  3. Templatize turnkey engagement plays
    Engagement templates play a key role in this next stage. Account-specific content hubs, video explainers, value engineering reports, and exec-to-exec direct mailers, for example, let us mimic a truly custom 1:1 ABM pursuit, yet with a pragmatic sense of repeatability to run across multiple accounts in parallel.

Of particular note in the diagram below are the two levels of ABM at Scale personalization: light and medium touch. Personalization can target accounts with messaging by industry (medium touch personalization) or by persona (light touch personalization).

ABM at Scale tactics


As discussed, in the table above, as well as two levels of ABM at Scale personalization, there are also two options when creating messaging - by industry and persona

  1. By industry
    When scaling your ABM program for a particular industry or vertical, the most effective messaging strategy is to select key themes of interest to the personas within that industry.
    Accounts showing most engagement with a particular theme then get a heightened level of focus based on that theme, and the account is then measured and assessed for subsequent interactions to determine the best next steps in the sales process.
  2. By Persona
    Scaling ABM programs to personas, by contrast, focuses on horizontal, industry-agnostic pain points. These pain points inform landing page themes, and coincide with specific roles and titles such as CTO, CIO or Head of Operations.

    Once again, thematic engagement is monitored, triggering “responsive,” custom ABM activity for those showing high levels of interest.

2. How to scale ABM: The workflow

The following graphic shows how ABM at Scale’s end-to-end workflow progresses from broad, automated 1:many-style account targeting to more hands-on, ‘white glove’ account specific pursuit support.

ABM at Scale: identify, pursue and close MQAs

Data and technology play crucial, informative roles at all stages of ABM at Scale. Let’s examine the individual stages of this model in more detail.

3. Foundations

Effective analysis, targeting and personalization
  • ICP & TAL: The role of data in providing an understanding of the target buying group to enable effective tailoring
  • Engagement vehicles: Establishing messaging and positioning and associated touchpoints to target stakeholders
  • Targeting and automation: Plotting a path from “current state” to “future state” of your data and technology infrastructure

Audience understanding: Ideal customer profile (ICP) and target account list (TAL)

Similar to a persona, an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is essentially a fictitious organization that matches the attributes of an organization that is likely to buy your product or service. The target buying personas within that ICP are semi-fictional individuals who are involved in the decision-making process. By understanding the dynamics and relationships within the buying group, marketers can tailor their sales and marketing strategies for effective stakeholder engagement.

To pinpoint the “sweet spot” for a product or service offering, ABM at Scale compiles a historical review of ‘won’, ‘lost’, and ‘abandoned’ deals. Working in tandem with Product, Sales, and Solution teams, this allows us to build a tiered view of the ICP to target for new logo and/or cross-sell/upsell programs.

The ICP then acts as a reference point for reviewing and segmenting the TAL for the subsequent campaign. This should ideally incorporate a combination of firmographics (e.g. account revenue, headcount, industry, location, assumed buying budget, etc.), technographics (e.g. current IT investments, partnerships, complementary aspects of the existing tech stack, competitors to displace, etc.), and propensity (e.g. 1st and 3rd party intent signals, existing engagement, engaged stakeholders, etc.) data signals.

It’s worth noting that the wealth of information inside your technology stack will help you establish your ICP and TAL, and then also continuously review, update and refine them.

Campaign engagement vehicles: Proposition, messaging, creative identity, and campaign content strategy

When it’s time to develop your campaign’s value proposition and messaging hierarchy, Agent3 would recommend working with cross-functional stakeholders, building on relevant existing positioning wherever possible.

The messaging matrix becomes the foundation for the creative identity that runs throughout the program. Aligning messaging to the organization’s brand guidelines also makes it possible to develop account-centric visual association among target audiences.

At this stage, it’s important to consider the various online, offline, face-to-face, and sales-led touchpoints likely to be involved throughout the program and take into account how various Marketing and Sales channels can be best leveraged to target relevant stakeholders within the TAL in a personalized, scalable fashion.

Remember, your tech stack can provide you with a wealth of information, including intent data that can be pulled into campaign messaging.

Targeting, automation, tracking, and optimization

To inform and activate the subsequent campaign, try plotting a practical path from “current state” to “future state” of the organization’s data sources and technology platforms.

These will typically include: marketing automation platforms (MAP); customer relationship management (CRM); account and stakeholder contact databases; predictive analytics tools; dynamic AI-driven hyper-personalization platforms; account-specific digital advertising platforms; conversational tech; sales enablement/outreach tools; and measurement visualization solutions.

Example revenue technology stack

Beyond connecting digital audience touchpoints, it’s also key at this stage to identify the program’s KPIs and reporting workflows. Keep in mind the importance of tailoring information to key Marketing, Sales, and Executive audiences.

4. Phase 1 - 1:many-style and 1:few-style account targeting

  • 1:many-style digital campaign activities: How data informs strategy, channels and creative
  • 1:few-style contact activity and engagement: Deeper levels of account-specific personalization
At-scale campaign activities targeted at relevant roles across the TAL:

For ABM at Scale, data is more than a buzzword. Data informs your strategy with insights to help ensure a “get-it-right-the-first-time” approach. It’s critical to look at the TAL and its affiliated personas to understand which channels will return the most value in awareness and engagement. This insight will also inform the campaign’s creative strategy, to help avoid errors and repetition later on.

While the exact mix of targeting channels reflect the nature of the campaign itself, we typically see digital outreach activities across a combination of account-based advertising (and retargeting), paid social, email, telemarketing, and content syndication touchpoints.

Example campaign workflow

The goal of this phase of the campaign is to increase awareness across the account base and to drive stakeholder engagement and opt-in with campaign collaterals. By housing these assets on dynamically-personalized content hubs, Agent3 can layer on aspects of account-relevant creative (i.e. by including the account name, industry specific imagery, or relevant case studies.) 

This phase also helps us develop a deeper understanding of the accounts, as they engage with the campaign. For instance, we might identify trends in how stakeholders engage with specific messaging, or note some information a prospect volunteers to a telemarketing agent.

1:few-style contact acquisition and engagement

As mentioned, digital outreach takes place across a combination of account-based advertising and retargeting, including more personalized content hubs that are further segmented by vertical, and even sub-vertical, themes. Thanks to the smaller number of accounts targeted, a higher level of personalization is now possible making the activity 1:few-style, as opposed to the 1:many-style described above.

5. Phase 2 - Leaderboard informed ‘1:1-like’ account outreach

  • Leaderboard account prioritization: Highest propensity accounts identified
  • Semi-templated, 1:1-like account outreach: Semi-templated assets and enablement materials to replicate personalized approach
‘Leaderboard’ account prioritization - and qual/quant insight enrichment around highest-propensity accounts

Introducing the campaign leaderboard: As the 1:many campaign continues to run, Agent3 tracks account-by-account levels of engagement across each touchpoint in a centralized dashboard. Which accounts are engaging with ads? Which messages do they relate to the most? Which accounts are dwelling on content and signing up for gated downloads? Which leads have we acquired through content syndication and gated digital activities? How can we correlate this direct campaign engagement with secondary propensity signals gleaned from intent and other data sources?

Example ‘Leaderboard’ account prioritization

The leaderboard consolidates all of this data in one convenient place. Now Sales leadership can easily review and align on accounts that merit deeper focus and pursuit. While signifiers of propensity and engagement are important, taking a call around readiness and likelihood-to-win from a sales perspective must be considered too. 

At this stage, Agent3 typically layers on account-specific “Express Insights” reports to augment the BDR and Sales teams’ understanding of the account - arming everyone involved with the necessary understanding of business context and legacy vendor landscape to facilitate engagement.

Turnkey, semi-templated ‘1:1-like’ account outreach cadences

After surrounding the TAL at scale to prompt target accounts into “self-identifying” for deeper focus, the second phase of the campaign aims to make good on the premise of ‘true’ ABM. Specifically, arming BDRs and Sales teams to target each prioritized account with genuinely account-customised insights, assets, and engagement materials. These in turn can be leveraged in a coordinated engagement cadence, to elevate and accelerate interactions across the account’s prospective buying committee.

During this 1:1-like phase, your technology stack will prove helpful once again. It’s key to understanding the buying group and creating a persona map (see below) for individual accounts. Now you’ve got powerful insights into who you’re engaged with, who you’re not engaged with and who you need to activate against. Here, technology is automating a process that sales teams may have done manually with white boards in the past.

Example persona map

This support will typically revolve around a specific 30/60/90-day window, with dedicated Marketing resources intended to support the Sales team in progressing the account in question through the qualification, discovery, and solution stages of the deal cycle.

A crucial component of success at this stage is a suite of semi-templated assets and enablement materials. These will be repurposed as modular building blocks for collaterals to mimic the sense of deeply-customized, 1:1 ABM outreach materials. This can be achieved in a number of ways: By creating a bank of account-specific content hubs, with CTAs such as watching video explainers, by reading value engineering reports, or with exec-to-exec direct mailers. These in turn can be personalized into individual buyers and influencers at the account at the moment of need, as opposed to implementing a lengthy planning and production cycle sometimes associated with 1:1 ABM.

Examples of semi-templated assets and materials

This approach has a number of advantages: It allows us to pinpoint the accounts with the greatest potential for conversion. These accounts will be treated with increased time, resources, and coordinated effort across Marketing, BDR, and Sales teams. The goal is to surround named stakeholders with tailored messaging and outreach activities, based on insights gleaned up to this point. By leveraging a turnkey set of engagement templates - account-specific content hubs, video explainers, value engineering reports, exec-to-exec direct mailers, etc. - we can mimic the sense of a truly custom 1:1 ABM pursuit, yet with a pragmatic sense of repeatability to run across multiple accounts in parallel.

6. Measurement

At its most basic level, an ABM at Scale model responds to tangible data points to allocate focus, resource, and budget to the areas of greatest opportunity. It anchors success to two “North Star” metrics: CAC and CLV. Underpinning these are a set of directional, leading and lagging indicators, which blend demand generation metrics with the 4 x Rs (Revenue, Reputation, Relationships and Readiness).

This is achieved by tracking the following:

In Phase 1, success comes from maximizing the volume of engagement from the highest number of accounts within an ICP-aligned TAL – whether that’s from account-attributed ad engagement, MQLs or other early-stage demand generation techniques. Combined with propensity analysis, this becomes your feeder engine for highly qualified, engaged accounts for Phase 2. However, this typically doesn’t deliver sales engagements on its own.

In Phase 2, the focus shifts to deepening sales engagement and converting interest to opportunities. While it’s pivotal to measure the outputs of sales and BDR teams at this point (email engagements, calls made, meetings held, etc), ultimate success is measured in opportunity value, deal conversion speed and total converted pipeline. This is where the rubber meets the road for ABM at Scale measurement, and the first understanding of the value of your ABM can be compared to the cost to deliver.

Key metrics for Marketing leaders today: Reducing CAC and maximizing CLV:

The image below provides a simple illustration as to how you can look at the hierarchy and linkage of KPIs and metrics from the initial, targeted engagement of phase 1 up to the board metrics, balancing the quantity and quality of pipeline.

Hierarchy and linkage of KPIs and metrics


While we don’t intend to examine the use of dashboards in any great depths in this Guide (if this is something that interests you, you can find more information about dashboards here) they can nevertheless be a useful tool for providing a visual ‘health check’ on the Sales and Marketing relationship.

Fundamentally, dashboards are an interface containing program data, and therefore the most logical way to share between teams because they allow for collaborative discussion. Data can be filtered by region, for example, while on a call, enabling teams to drill into a specific insight. 

Regardless of whether you choose a dashboard as the way to share program results, the key to success is setting up to measure correctly.

Below is an example of a marketing dashboard, showing how a marketing report can be consolidated on a single page, so that the information can be monitored at a glance. From this ‘at-a-glance’ view, more detailed analytics can be carried out as required.

7. Summary and next steps

In part one of this Guide, Agent3 addressed the WHY behind ABM at Scale. We’ve explored the need to scale impact and show the commercial value of marketing, pulling on the near-forensic depth of a new type of ABM that has the breadth of demand generation. In part two of this Guide, we’ve outlined the HOW of creating an aligning high impact sales and marketing capabilities, delivering both a differentiated customer and prospect experience as well as greater commercial impact.


Key takeaways:

  1. With a customer-first mindset, focus where the most opportunity lies: The need for customer centricity is critical and data is at the heart of this approach. Remember, customers don't follow a neat, linear sales journey. They aren’t in the market for your solution for more than 5% of the time (depending on which experts you believe). Diligence around building a TAL and fine-tuning the balance between brand building and demand gen is key.
  2. Drive toward higher value engagements: Customers have now come to expect personalization. As marketers, we need to create and deliver content that is ever more differentiated, impactful, scalable and authentic.
  3. Organizational alignment is key: Winning is a team sport. As we’ve seen in this Guide, to drive scale AND have impact, sales, BDRs and marketing need to work together to target with great precision, build out repeatable, scalable plays that operate at an account level and hand-off in a seamless way.
  4. Less is more: Focus on both the quantity and the quality of your pipeline. ABM at Scale lets you stop playing the numbers game and believing that throwing more leads into the sales hopper will help you hit your targets. ABM at Scale provides the focus needed to engage with precision and profit in mind.
  5. Increase size and speed of pipe: With ABM at Scale, the quality of the pipeline is better, bigger and quicker to close. It lets you focus your efforts on the accounts and buying units that are primed and engaging, as well as accounts where you can reshape purchase intent.
  6. New models, new motions: ABM at Scale blends traditional ABM and demand generation models for the best of both worlds, at scale. Advances in data management and technology provide us with the infrastructure to adopt fresh approaches and drive true business value.
  7. Focus on the metrics that really matter: Finally, we looked at KPIs that are a priority for sales, marketing and the board. So while there will be metrics and leading and lagging indicators key to sales and marketing teams, it's vital to focus on commercial metrics that are meaningful to the board and wider business. We established two north star metrics for marketing leadership - reduced CAC and maximum CLV.

Further information:

  • Want further information about optimizing your RevTech for ABM at Scale programs? Click here
  • Want to see some award-winning case studies of ABM at Scale programs in action? Click here
  • Want to hear the experts' view on ABM at Scale? Click here