The findings of this year’s ABM Census were a hot topic at The Global ABM Conference in London — and some of the results were startling.
Stefano Iacono, 6sense’s European Marketing Director, joined the keynote panel discussion The State of ABM In 2022 – and the Shape of Things to Come to give our take on how revenue teams can confidently navigate the current market.
The good news: There’s lots of room for improvement.
Here are some of the key findings, talking points, and data worth considering.
A Mismatch Between ABM Goals And Outcomes
Census respondents revealed a disconnect between what B2B marketers are trying to achieve with ABM, and their results:
- Nearly half of respondents’ primary aim was to win new accounts (47%)
- Despite shooting for new business, practitioners’ biggest benefits came from growth in existing accounts (65%)
The gap between goal and outcome was even wider in customer retention, with only 1% looking to improve retention as their main goal, but 29% achieving it.
We know combining intent data and an account-based approach works wonders in existing accounts by driving renewals, upsells, and cross-sells. But these results are usually driven by a targeted approach that serves existing customers, not as a by-product of attempts to win new business.
As Iacono speculated in the panel, the root cause of the discrepancy may lie in respondents’ reliance on guesswork. Without identifying ideal prospects or knowing whether they’re in-market, teams often rely on a scattergun approach that generate mixed results.
Foundational Challenges Haven’t Changed
The panel also picked up on two foundational challenges from the census that B2B revenue teams must fix to move forward.
Visibility Into Buyer Intent Remains a Missing Puzzle Piece for Many Teams
For the second year running, “the absence of deep account insight” was the main challenge to deploying ABM — cited by nearly half of respondents. This lack of buyer insight makes personalized, timely engagement nearly impossible.
A successful account-based approach demands insight beyond account firmographics. Teams need to understand:
- An account’s buying committee
- Data around their tech stack
- Keywords or topics they’re researching
- Locations showing the most activity
- The current stage of the buying journey
Lack of Strategic Alignment
The second key issue highlighted by the experts was an absence of shared strategy, referenced by 42% of respondents. The panel advised respondents struggling with this issue should go back to basics, suggested solutions included:
- Get buy-in from execs and team members
- Align marketing and sales on accounts, strategy, account engagement, measurement, (everything!)
- Create a partnership consisting of the entire revenue team
As we’ll see, these foundational challenges faced by census respondents are largely rooted in, or exacerbated by, technology limitations.
How Are Technology Constraints Limiting Practitioners?
When rating their ABM maturity, census respondents stated that the use of tech for ABM is where they were “least mature overall.”
So are these technology constraints limiting ABM practitioners in their approach? With 58% saying they rely on marketing automation platforms (MAPs) to run their ABM programs, 6sense’s answer is a resounding yes.
While MAPs serve an important purpose, they aren’t suited to drive an account-based approach in a B2B world where B2B buying is conducted by groups, not individuals.
They offer limited customer insight, don’t create alignment between marketing and sales, and only 40% of users believe their MAP’s journey mapping capabilities are effective in helping them create engaging buying journeys.
Iacono wrapped up the panel by suggesting that to overcome these challenges and eliminate guesswork, ABM practitioners should look towards AI-powered revenue platforms. We’ll see if they take up his recommendation in next year’s report.
Learn more in this blog post: Why AI is Replacing Automation for Winning Account-Based Teams