Since starting down the ABM track ourselves, we’ve presented the concept and workings of ABM to top management and sales and marketing leaders on many occasions. One comment we often hear early in our presentations, usually from salespeople, goes something like this: “In many ways, we’ve been doing ABM since forever. We just didn’t call it ABM.” And they’re right – in many ways.
For decades, key account managers (KAMs) and enterprise-level sales teams have focused not so much on leads, but on a list of target accounts. They’ve researched their prospect or customer’s industry and needs. They have worked hard to build up and maintain close relationships with key members of the buying group in each account. And they have carefully designed their sales processes, continually looking for ways to optimize performance.
All of these elements are indeed part of an ABM approach. So what does coming up with the name ‘ABM’ (though it’s a bit of a misnomer) and making a big song and dance about the new approach add to the world? Just another buzzword?
Happily, when we get a little further into explaining about ABM, those same salespeople start to get pretty enthusiastic. That’s because we touch on a number of pain points with which even the best performers are quite familiar. For example:
- They’re typically in touch with just one or two people out of a buying center of 10 to 15 (so their ideas and solutions won’t be communicated with the same effect as if they were doing it, and there’s a strong chance someone they haven’t talked to will disagree).
- There’s only a limited amount of time in every day – so they’re not able to maintain prospect or customer relationships across all their accounts, and it’s hard to move multiple deals through the sales process.
- Researching accounts and contacts take far too much time (analysts typically estimate two-thirds of a salesperson’s time), when the real gold lies in direct contact with potential buyers.
- Maintaining continued relationships with existing customers that aren’t re-purchasing in the near future is particularly difficult – yet staying top-of-mind with them is one of the most profitable long-term strategies.
ABM addresses these and other barriers to revenue growth, by re-calibrating Marketing’s resources and priorities so that they’re aimed more accurately on enabling sales through activities that really make a difference. And yes, that makes one heck of a difference!