2021 ABM Forum theme

Building the ABM Team of the Future

The ABM team of the future. How are ABM leaders developing, expanding, and scaling organizational models to support their ABM programs?

Rob Leavitt

by Rob Leavitt

August 17, 2021

Insights from the ABM Forum

In June, we held the ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Forum, How the Rise of ABM is Changing Marketing, which had nearly 300 attendees who are looking to elevate their ABM programs. What’s unique about the Forum, compared with other events, is that you don’t just hear from us; you hear directly from CMOs, ABM program leaders, and practitioners about what’s really working for them.

We talked about the many ways ABM is changing marketing. One topic in particular that we spent some time on is something we’re also addressing in the current ABMLA survey that’s in the field nowHow are ABM leaders developing, expanding, and scaling organizational models to support their ABM programs?

In our last blog post on the ABM Forum, we showed how ITSMA’s ABM Competency Model offers a framework for hiring and training B2B marketers with the skillset to succeed in ABM:

ITSMA's ABM Competency Model

But the ABM Competency Model is just a start. Our ABM Forum participants added color around the different approaches they’re taking to embed ABM skills within their organizations:

Building a consensus

Getting a base understanding of “what is ABM?” across the field is important. We have a couple of people who are almost doing ABM full time, but we also have field marketers dipping in and out of ABM. There’s a bit of confusion between cluster and industry and what is true ABM, so we want to make sure that we standardize as an organization. Education across the businesses, especially within marketing, is really important to achieve that.

Encouraging certification

We built ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Certification into our new ABM marketer onboarding process. It gives us a standard language. No matter where the marketer is based, it could be Japan or the United States, it gives us that standard to talk about best practices.

Training the field

We’re looking to make sure our field marketers are trained in the ITSMA Framework, and we’ve got our sales guys on a program, as well. This way, sales understands the language. The nice thing is, I’m hearing them all talking about flight paths and the three R’s (Reputation, Relationships, and Revenue). When salespeople talk about it, you know you’ve done your job.

Taking accountability

The term “CMO of the account” puts the orchestration role into play. You’ve got customer marketing teams that are spinning up all over, you’ve got SaaS, consumption becomes really important – and everyone wants to reach out and touch the customer. It would be great if we could funnel things through the account’s CMO.

Developing an ecosystem

We’re not hiring specific ABM-ers, but our challenge is to embed ABM culture across the organization. The integrated team needs to understand what feeds are coming from the ABM audiences. The lines of business marketing managers need to understand the concepts they’re dealing with for the small number of 1:1s or those large number of awareness accounts. Thus, we need to embed the ABM skills into the different functional groups, whether it’s design or copy or integrated marketing; sales enablement; or the sales leaders. They all need to be on board with the model.

Creating a community of practice

Because we’re such a metrics-based organization, a lot of folks are interested in ABM, but everyone thinks about it differently and is doing it differently. Rather than start with a top-down approach where we’re dictating the definitions and how we should talk about ABM, we’re bringing the practitioners together to help form that. Then, we’ll align as a group and share our output. This won’t address the immediate hiring and retention of ABM-ers, but it will bring a consistency and focus on development to our existing teams.

It was great to hear from the ABM leads themselves about what actually works and how to put theory into practice.  Here’s a replay of the entire ITSMA 2021 ABM Forum so you can hear directly from ABM program leaders on:

  • The best approach to scaling ABM to cover more accounts
  • How customer engagement behavior has changed as it relates to content, programs, and delivery
  • And more…

NOTE: Many of these blog posts and presentations pull from our research, which relies on ITSMA members, clients, and friends. Our 2021 ABM Benchmarking study is open now and we’d love your input: https://bit.ly/21ABMSurvey

Related Resources

Building the ABM Team of the Future

The ABM team of the future. How are ABM leaders developing, expanding, and scaling organizational models to support their ABM programs?