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3 top takeaways from #TorontoABM

#ABM, #Conferences

Like for you, no doubt, account-based marketing (ABM) is becoming an ever-greater focus for the team here at Quarry. We’re working with long-term clients to scale successful ABM pilots, and new clients are increasingly coming to us with an ABM-first mindset.

In the spirit of nurturing the fast-growing ABM community—and to ensure we’re always at the forefront of the strategies, tactics and tools driving this movement ahead—we were proud to recently sponsor, and attend, the inaugural Toronto ABM Summit.

Here are three of my main takeaways.

1. If engagement is the currency of ABM, authenticity is the price of admission.

Authenticity came up again and again, and rightly so. Without an open, honest, human core running through every aspect of your ABM initiatives, you’ll only be adding more noise to an already noisy world.

No matter how deep we go into targeting the right accounts, and no matter how sophisticated our tools and tactics, it’s still people we need to engage. It’s people we need to inspire. It’s people we need to build and nurture real relationships with.

Sometimes we all need a reminder to step back and ask ourselves, “Would I want to be on the receiving end of this?”

The future of ABM is authenticity-based marketing

Tyler Lessard from Vidyard shared great examples of very human, very personalized videos, produced at scale but designed to build a one-to-one emotional connection.

Randy Frisch from Uberflip reminded us that people increasingly expect personalized experiences. B2C brands understand this and deliver information in ways that put the customer in control. B2B brands have to adapt to this rising bar, but many of our campaigns and cadences and content experiences fail to deliver.

Sangram Vajre from Terminus declared, “The future of ABM is authenticity-based marketing,” and shared stories of his company pulling their customers in very closely to listen, learn and grow together.

Authenticity is hard to define, and it means different things to different people. But I think people know a lack of authenticity when they see it. It just feels empty. Impersonal. Insincere.

Be human.

2. ABM is a team sport.

The M in ABM is a bit of a misnomer, and everyone seems to know it.

Engagio speaks of Account-Based Everything. Oracle speaks of Account-Based Strategy. I think the ABM label is fine so long as we never delude ourselves into thinking that a marketing team can put their heads down for a quarter or two and bestow a shiny jewel upon the organization.

Marketing will be the spark that gets things started. They’ll also play a vital role in orchestrating, executing, measuring and optimizing at every stage. But don’t ever let ABM become “a thing that marketing is doing” or you’re headed for trouble.

Steve Woods from and Mark Wright from Firmex went deep into gaining and maintaining executive alignment. If ABM isn’t understood and supported in the executive offices, you’re going to struggle with expectations and investment levels and headcount and metrics and all sorts of other things.

Sales and marketing leaders at SAP and at CrowdRiff explained how a global giant and a fast-growing startup each ensure extremely tight collaboration across their teams. Shared metrics and constant communication are the order of the day.

When Sales and Marketing (and perhaps Customer Success and other groups too) come together to plan, build, and execute ABM as one unified team, the likelihood of success grows substantially.

The old days of Marketing creating leads and “throwing them over the fence” to Sales are over. ABM demands a highly collaborative approach throughout the entire customer journey.

Christopher Engman from Climeon shared one of his secrets to getting the sales team engaged: Feature them in your ads.

Less public, but no less effective, is ensuring that a substantial amount of your communication to key accounts comes from the sales rep rather than from a faceless marketing entity. Double points for this as it firms up sales team engagement and also harnesses authentic human-to-human communication to drive better results.

3. Don’t overpromise. Don’t scale too fast. Build ABM right and build it to last.

If you want to fail at ABM, promise the world, and go big immediately.

ABM is complex. You can’t buy it. You have to build it.

You have to grow it. You have to nurture it. You have to test and measure and optimize again and again as it matures and becomes increasingly impactful in your business.

And you have to manage expectations accordingly. If ABM is positioned as a magic fix-all or an easy growth potion, it’s going to be a rocky road.

ABM is complex. You can’t buy it. You have to build it.

Quarry’s own Meredith Fuller delivered a great session (see slides here) on some of the work we’ve done with one of our clients, Windstream Enterprise. Meredith took the audience through a deep dive into the seven steps we undertook together to plan and execute a hugely successful ABM initiative. But one of the things that seemed to stand out for the audience was the way we piloted, optimized and scaled.

The pilot program was only in the Chicago area. This tight focus created the conditions to test a wide range of channels and tactics, optimize on many fronts and prove results before scaling. Once finely tuned in Chicago, we scaled to 16 other markets and delivered breakthrough results.

It can be very tempting to put on the hero’s cape and attempt to move mountains right from the outset.

Resist this urge, pilot first and scale a lasting, winning program.

Exciting times in ABM

These are exciting times as ABM strategies, tactics and tools mature and become core competencies in B2B organizations of all sizes.

We’re thrilled with the results we’ve achieved when we partner closely with clients who share our commitment to doing great things together.

As we deepen our commitment to authenticity, cross-functional collaboration and intelligent piloting, the impact is only going to grow.