The Evolution of Account-Based Marketing
In a recent conversation with a high-level transformational change consultancy, the topic of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and its role in B2B new business development took centre stage.
In a world inundated with new buzzwords and online content, there’s a prevailing misconception that ABM is a novel concept. However, upon closer examination, it’s evident that ABM has a deeper history and connection with established sales methodologies.
The Roots of Account-Based Marketing
The roots of Account-Based Marketing trace back to the early 2000s when technological advancements in CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, and data analytics tools created a fertile ground for organisations to implement ABM strategies at scale. It was during this period that Bev Burgess, in collaboration with the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), formalised the concept of Account-Based Marketing.
A Link to Strategic Selling
While ABM might seem like a marketing-driven approach, there’s a notable connection to the strategic selling methodologies developed by Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman, whose influence has spanned decades. These methodologies, notably the Strategic Selling® and Conceptual Selling®, offered strategies for managing complex sales processes, understanding customer decision dynamics, and navigating organisational structures.
In many ways, the strategic selling methodologies pioneered by Miller Heiman laid the foundation for ABM by focusing on building relationships and understanding customer needs within the sales process. The strategic alignment between these approaches is unmistakable, even if their core applications differ.
Distinguishing Features of ABM
Account-Based Marketing is primarily a marketing strategy that aims to target specific high-value accounts with tailor-made campaigns. The crux of ABM lies in developing deeper relationships with key accounts, fostering long-term loyalty, and maximising wallet share through targeted marketing efforts. This approach contrasts with the conventional notion of lead generation, as ABM enthusiasts prioritise nurturing existing relationships over pursuing new leads.
ABM Metrics and Outcomes
The divergence between ABM and Miller Heiman methodologies is further pronounced in their outcome metrics. While Miller Heiman’s success metrics revolve around sales outcomes – closed deals, deal sizes, and sales cycle lengths – ABM encompasses both marketing and sales metrics. Engagement rates, content interactions, meeting bookings, and closed deals from target accounts all contribute to measuring ABM effectiveness.
Total Prospect Management (TPM): A Unified Approach
Total Prospect Management (TPM) integrates the strengths of both ABM and Miller Heiman style methodologies, providing a holistic framework for navigating complex sales processes while embracing the targeted approach of ABM. It acknowledges the importance of fostering existing relationships and capturing new business opportunities, thus offering a comprehensive strategy for B2B growth.
Driving Business Growth
As companies strive to maximise their potential, adopting a strategic, unified approach is key. At Broadley Speaking we do run highly advanced ABM campaigns for our clients – the focus of these is driving new revenue streams from their existing clients.
However, our Total Prospect Management (TPM) approach to new business is distinct and represents the best of breed of Account-Based Marketing and a Miller Heiman approach, providing a strategic framework for navigating and succeeding in complex sales processes. It also offers a more holistic approach to engaging and winning new B2B clients. From this perspective, ABM and Miller-Heiman methodologies can be seen as components or strategies that fit within the broader TPM framework.