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You need great “ABMers” to have successful ABM – 10 skills that make a good ABMer

Account-Based Marketing
Maeve Mcdonald

Maeve McDonald

Managing Consultant and ABM Practice Lead

It was fantastic to reconnect with so many colleagues at the B2B Marketing Global ABM event earlier this month in London. For those unfamiliar, ABM is a strategic approach in creating marketing that’s tailored to one or a number of prospects or client accounts. ABM industry leader, Bev Burgess offered a keynote speech arguing the business case to implementing ABM in your organisation. 

If you’ve been running ABM programmes for a number of years, you have surely noticed a significant increase in ROI it delivers over broad-based marketing. However, it’s not that simple. In order to do great ABM you need great “ABMers” – and with the war for talent, that is not an easy challenge to solve.  

What makes a great “ABMer”?  

I had some great conversations with fellow marketers on this topic and wanted to share the synthesis of our chats and pull out what I believe are the top skills that make a great “ABMer”. You may well find that you already have these individuals within your organisation – and all you need to do is identify them and hone their skills. 

  • Constantly curious – an effective ABMer should always be asking questions! Whether it be which target accounts we choose and why, what does the buying journey look like and how can we influence this, what do sales need in terms of support, what marketing techniques are working and why, which content is resonating and why, and what’s the latest marketing technology we can use to help us drive greater targeting and scalability across programmes.  They look for ways to rework or level up campaigns to optimize the most sensible path towards success. Constantly curious for continuous improvement.  
  • A data mindset – A successful ABMer should be able to understand, unpack, and draw insights from all types of data. The ability to spot trends and patterns in intent data, click data and CRM data (e.g. in crafting your ICP) and being able to make quick decisions on pulled insights to continually optimise your ABM programmes will make a significant difference. This mindset understands how to bring all the results together to demonstrate the power of compounding reputation, how relationships drive revenue, and how to demonstrate the power of ABM back to your organisation.   
  • Collaborative & connected – There is a lot of talk on how marketing and sales alignment is a core element for successful ABM. And while the importance of this cannot be understated, in reality, ABM should be an all-hands-on-deck approach. It’s involving all stakeholders across the enterprise, from sales and marketing to customer success through to IT, finance, and product teams – all driving towards a clear and shared common goal. It’s extraordinary what happens when teams pull together – and a great ABMer helps to make this happen! 
  • Big picture thinker – To become more strategic, one must be a visionary. You need a strong understanding of the market, your audience, their key challenges, how you can solve these and how targets move through their own unique buyer journeys. Moving beyond just the platforms they use, you need to identify the best ways to target accounts based on their job function, industry, how they consume information & their influencer landscape. Great ABMers guide the organisation to move away from tactical campaigns that demand short-term (questionable) results, to longer-term strategic ABM programmes, delivering exceptional results and ROI. 
  • An open mind – ABM isn’t for the faint of heart – it is indeed a challenge.  It’s about trail blazing through trial and error with a mindset fixed on continuing growth. If your campaign isn’t going exactly to plan, then a great ABMer will be open and willing to adapt and change the approach. Always listening to others, embracing new ideas, trying new tactics and embracing continuous improvement. 
  • Leadership skills – Rallying a group of individuals with different, sometimes competing, personal objectives can be a challenge. In order to manage the culture shift that ABM can at times require, you need to be able to lead the collective team and calm their fears. This looks like first establishing a shared vision everyone can get behind and gently encouraging team members to assess and move out of their comfort zone. Moving in unison is the best way to achieve the desired outcome.  
  • Resilience – Sometimes it can be hard to get internal support for ABM, demands can be high, and it may take time to see results. A good ABMer should be resilient enough to stay the course, learn from failure quickly, and never let ego get in the way. And keep pushing the business case, building advocates as you go.   
  • Emotional Intelligence and good communication – Good communication is a must-have in pretty much every job description, and it’s no different in ABM. The ability to recognise and influence the emotions of others, is essential. It should come as no surprise that empathy and relatability go hand in hand with ABM, as the process ultimately hinges on understanding an organization’s core challenges and motivations and then matching your solutions to their needs.  Developing detail skills such as writing and editing campaign briefs, mapping out narratives, and mediating misunderstandings or conflicts. A successful ABMer should not only be comfortable communicating with the client and the wider team but also able to state the commercial case for ABM at the highest level in the organisation, present on the plan and the progress and keep all stakeholders informed and engaged.   

So, quite a big ask! But evident in so many great marketers. Good luck in your ABM journey! 

Please do download our eBook here if you’d like to learn more about our approach to ABM. I’m looking forward to learning more and discussing ABM further at the B2B Marketing Expo next week. 

Hoping to see many of you at the B2B Marketing Expo in London next week where we are sponsoring with our partners 6Sense.