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ABM -> ABC (Account-Based Companies)

ABM -> ABC (Account-Based Companies)

by Jeremiah ShackelfordApril 16, 2018

Going All in on ABM (courtesy of LookBookHQ)

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is on track to becoming far more than the B2B framework du jour, its influence and results are beginning to warrant the level-up distinction of Account-Based Companies. Via ABM an organization cannot only bring sales and marketing together on the same playing-field speaking the same language, but also integrate efforts quite well into revenue-focused finance departments and adoption-obsessed product teams. The science and statistics of digital marketing are having a moment, one might even say their overdue time to shine. It used to be Business Development sat in-between two sometimes disparate entities known as Sales and Marketing, but ABM has the opportunity to remove the BD middleman and bridge Product and Sales outright. It’s powerful. But product teams aside, the alignment with Sales that ABM represents (if not definitively ensures) should not be underestimated nor under-resourced. You want to build/transform a sales team of the future? This may very well be your best bet in embarking on that data-driven objective. #DataDrivenMarketing #MarketingDrivenSales

The short of it, Demandbase’s annual ABM Summit did not disappoint, and the general consensus on ABM’s state of play: full growth ahead. The company’s two key announcements:


“The integration will automatically combine real-time intent data and account insights from Demandbase’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered Conversion Solution with the contact and account records from users’ Salesforce Pardot data.”


“ABM Analytics will help marketers view performance of their ABM initiatives from advertising to pipeline and revenue, to understand the progression of their most valuable accounts across the buying cycle.”

AI and advanced analytics, no surprise those two rank high in the conversations amongst Demandbase’s roadmap. The signal they suggest: digital marketing metrics falling short in their contribution to customer conversion need not be. Measuring click-thru rates to justify B2B ad-spend is flat out elementary at this stage. The ads still fly of course, and no one is discounting efforts to drive traffic and pipeline, but a site visitor has become such a bigger potential opportunity if nurtured effectively. Via the data and cookies already collected on that individual/org if you’re lucky, but just as important in the opportunity equation: the patterns/pathways potential customers choose upon being there, and what that means to you as a marketer in being able to optimize the outcome based on the aggregate data of those that have taken similar paths. The personalization of the engagement has gone from nothing short of one-size-fits-all to being able to programatically prioritize your high-value target accounts in real-time. This is about probability, and this is about putting the systems in place to convert leads to opportunities in a dynamic world at significantly higher rates.

“…the patterns/pathways potential customers choose upon being there, and what that means to you as a marketer in being able to optimize the outcome based on the aggregate data of those that have taken similar paths.”


The ABM Summit had four tracks to choose from, but I lived in the ‘ABM Impact’ room for the day. Reasons being: LookbookHQ, Bizible, Radius, and Engagio. All of these companies sent their A-game as far as I’m concerned, and they certainly came across as experts in their specific digital marketing disciplines. The ability to learn by diffusion was notably high in that room as directly related to the obvious operational expertise each speaker brought to their presentation. You could feel the pain and hours it took to get where they are. Otherwise stated, the #MarStack is no joke, and probably is or should be guiding your Sales organization far more than most realize.

Different Data for Different Things (courtesy of Radius)

Sales is a behavior-based skillset, and now with web properties correlating behavioral insights of their own, marketing is becoming the same. They both interact with customers, one is simply at scale, and the other about 1:1 trust in the transaction. The burgeoning advantage is that some of the marketing automation tools are getting sophisticated enough to incorporate behavioral analytics back into the models to improve conversion outcomes. Your marketing team now has tools available to them to determine to varying confidence levels what individuals/organizations are ready to purchase, and thus, what target accounts matter most. If your sales team is resisting the infusion of this science into their process, than some convincing (if not mandating) may be in order. In the simplest of terms, that marketing budget dedicated to increasing sales has become a lot more sophisticated in its efficacy. And yea, large-account ‘hunters’ will now be sharing more of the credit, but that’s a good thing too. In fact, it’s the invaluable component to making this reprioritization work. It is now possible to track just how significant each touch point along the customer journey is, and here’s a hint, that last meeting where the contract gets signed tends to be weighed a little heavily.

“The burgeoning advantage is that some of the marketing automation tools are getting sophisticated enough to incorporate behavioral analytics back into the models to improve conversion outcomes.”

Multi-touch attribution: coming to a Marketing/Sales org near you. (courtesy of Bizible)

In far too many organizations there is so much inefficiency and waste in the Sales and Marketing relationship, so much. The multitouch-attribution ABM of the future, with advanced analytics and AI recommendations baked in, will serve to check egos at the door. Transparency goes hand in hand with those advanced analytics, and statistically higher conversions/revenue with that of AI. Marketing-driven sales is the future we’ve caught up with. It’s about trust, and if you have a Head of Sales and CMO willing to dedicate the time and energy into getting this right from the get-go, than one might even argue the advantage is overwhelming. The data and intelligence behind arriving at ‘target accounts’ has become sophisticated enough that even the most gut-centric sales people can no longer choose to ignore their marketing counterparts. In fact, the smart members of sales teams are embracing the sophistication, embracing the data.

Random acts of kindness = good, random acts of marketing = bad. (Engagio wisdom)

When it comes down to it, the fundamental question remains: ‘How do I spend my marketing budget?’ A solution to confidently and consistently answering it: Account-Based Marketing (ABM). It provides marketers the framework to track and optimize the customer journey from that initial chat on the website, thru customer acquisition, on to future cross-sell likelihoods. Further, multi-touch attribution is both performance-based and transparent in nature, it allows one to see what’s working in converting a lead to an opportunity AND it provides transparency into who and when had the most influence in that conversion and others. ABM in some sense democratizes a company’s efforts to sell. You can argue that if you wish, but what I do not see as up for debate: this type of data-driven decision-making improves marketing as a whole. “Random acts of kindness = good. Random acts of marketing = bad.”



  • The patterns and trends being revealed in user data has changed marketing as we know it.
  • Nurture: visitor -> lead -> opportunity -> customer -> advocate -> new visitors. Something as straightforward as measuring ‘time with an asset’ can provide appreciable gains in the marketer/customer journey.
  • This is about optimizing revenue, managing it, and experimenting with marketing timelines and techniques to customize that optimization depending who’s on the other end. [and the training data for the AI team is priceless.]
  • Providing low-risk gateways for experimental marketing in a measured manner. Tracking and reporting needs to be consistent, but engagement is variable, that’s how we learn. ABM factors for that, in fact it optimizes around it.


About The Author
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford, Business & Market Developer