According to Gartner’s 2016 CMO spend survey, converting leads to
sales ranked second to innovation as the top area where senior
management’s expectations of marketing responsibility increased
over 2015. Per Gartner, “account-based marketing” is emerging
as a hot trend.
Account-based marketing builds on a foundation of robust data
collection and analysis, the use of predictive analytics to
identify expansion opportunities from within an existing
customer base, and the creation of segments and relevant
content based on life cycle journeys. It marries these
elements with automation that enables marketers to deliver
advertising and personalized Web experiences targeted for
specific accounts. – Gartner
According to Sangram Vajre, co-founder and CMO of Terminus,
author of Account-Based Marketing For Dummies, and
considered as one of the most influential digital marketers, 2016
is well on its way to earning the definition as the year of
account-based marketing. He was also Head of Marketing at
Pardot when it was acquired by ExactTarget, and then my
company, Salesforce. Vajre has firsthand experience with the
evolution of B2B marketing, especially when it comes to an
So why is ABM such a hot topic? There are two important stats
to note. According to a 2015 survey from the research firm
SiriusDecisions, more than 92 percent of companies thought that
account-based marketing was “very important” or “extremely
important”, yet at the time, only 20 percent of companies had
implemented an ABM strategy.
It is important to note here that account-based marketing is a
comprehensive approach for your marketing programs and
activities. To successfully take an account-based approach, you
start with deemphasizing the vanity metrics such as the number
of new leads created, the number of clicks from an email
campaign or the number of forms completed. There’s only one
metric which account-based marketing teams truly care about,
and that’s revenue. For years, B2B marketers have had to
generate tons of leads in order to qualify the right ones then
pass that contact information along to sales. Advances in
marketing technology (#MarTech) have made this process
To learn more about account based marketing, I spoke with Vajre
to get his insights into the world of account-based marketing.
His words of advice work well for marketing in the form of a
catchy analogy: marketers need to stop being one-night stands.
“B2B marketers are historically bad dates. They never greet a
prospect at the metaphorical door, on their own terms, opting
instead to honk the car incessantly in the driveway hoping
maybe the prospect will come out. Think about it: a sales
development rep or account executive is constantly calling a
prospect while marketing blasts emails, and maybe immediately,
tomorrow, or a year from now, that prospect will say “okay,
Who wants to be courted like that? There’s no flowers or candy,
no meaningful conversations, and no foundational activities for
establishing a relationship. B2B marketers are historically bad
dates, which is why Vajre refers to them as one-night stands.”,
Here are 5 signs you might be a one-night stand
1. More focus on marketing leads, instead of
Many B2B marketers still think their primary activities should
include as blasting emails to the entire database, attending
the annual industry tradeshow, and hosting a webinar each
month. These are all activities to generate leads. You can get
leads anywhere. But are they the best-fit for your business?
According to Forrester Research, less than 1 percent of leads
generated will ever become customers. This statistic shows us
that 99 percent of B2B marketing dollars are being wasted since
they will never bring in revenue. There’s little-to-no ROI from
teams who practice traditional lead generation.
“It’s kind of like the guy at the bar who always wants to buy
girls and their friends rounds of shots hoping that she will
talk to him. No way, dude. She’s either going think you’re
sketchy, or she will take that free shot then keep hanging out
with her friends. Either way, you’ve lost money without gaining
any traction,” said Vajre.
2. More focus on conversion rates instead of
Some marketers are tracking conversion rates as a success
metric. Most B2B marketing professionals have adopted this
popular KPI. You love driving people to your website so you can
cheer when a form is completed. Yeah! Score! A conversion! Then
“You try to engage this person with a follow-up phone call,
drop them into a drip campaign or add them to a nurturing
email. Do you ever hear from them again? If not, that sounds a
lot like a one-night stand,” said Vajre.
3. More focus on registration numbers instead of who is
Like flowers and candy, webinars are a great way to start off a
date. Your prospect gets to hear from thought leaders about the
problems in your industry and how your business is a solution.
Your marketing team plans regular webinars and invites
any-and-everybody to register and attend.
“Big registration numbers are exciting, but what does this
actually do for revenue? That’s what sales and your executive
team care about. Sure, you got the prospect’s attention with
your webinar, but what happens next to turn that prospect into
an opportunity is what truly matters.
When I was Head of Marketing at Pardot (now Salesforce), I
recall how we saw 33% higher win-rate when someone attended a
product/value prop webinar after the opportunity was created.
Now that’s the kind information that would shape your marketing
programs,” said Vajre.
4. No alignment of content to buying stages or target
You call them, email them, and try to have a conversation, but
no response. When was the last time a CEO or executive of a
large enterprise, or even fast-growing company, downloaded an
ebook? The chances are never. Vajre recommends that marketers
deliver content that is aligned to the buyer’s stage and the
persona and channel. Great pieces of content include:
- Ebooks (for practitioners)
- Webinars (for learners)
- Infographics (for influencers)
- Blog posts (for decision makers)
- SlideShare (for thought leaders)
Account-based marketing means you send prospects something they
5. Heavy dependence on generic email
“If you want to love and engage your prospects on their terms,
then don’t shove the same content on every channel to everyone.
That’s not marketing. It’s called blasting! I got most of you
on this one, right?! ,” said Vajre.
Sending large scale emails is a true asset of a marketing
automation platform. Having the ability to email thousands of
people at once is a must have capability for marketers, but to
do this right, you must invest in developing a customer journey
based on audience segmentation by personas, so that you can
personalize each email. To do this at scale, you need
investment in sophisticated marketing automation technologies.
“Your email has to be a love letter to the prospect so they
want to see where this relationship might go with your
company,” said Vajre
“As the B2B marketing industry continues to evolve, I believe
we must get hyper-focused on finding the best-fit prospects who
will make a great fit for your business. To continue with our
relationship analogy, you shouldn’t bring thousands of frogs to
your door, “kissing” each one with a form completion. Focus on
defining what your perfect partner’s qualities would be. That’s
the beauty of account-based marketing. Because you’re starting
your marketing efforts by creating an ideal customer profile
(ICP) and identifying your best-fit customers and prospects,”