Is ABM Really B2B?
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
The eagerly anticipated followup to ABM for Dummies is now available on Amazon, "ABM is B2B" by Sangram Vajre (THE man to follow on LinkedIn if you want to know about Account Based Marketing) and Eric Spett, both of Terminus. Sangram calls himself "The Accidental Evangelist" for ABM, and that's not only true, it's a real-life example of how Terminus is using one of the ABM playbooks in it's own strategy: when one of our own becomes a leading voice on the subject, leverage it for all it's worth...business will follow.
I had the privilege of reading an advance final draft copy of the book back in April, and I have to admit, it took me a good quarter of the book to be convinced that we should use the term ABM and B2B interchangeably, as the authors argue. In fact, they do use the term interchangeably throughout just to make the point.
I had a bit of an exchange with Sangram over this assertion-- that not all B2B businesses are a completely good fit for ABM, or at the very least, if they use it they must adapt it in ways at at best blunt the effectiveness, or at worst, keep you in the same situation you are today-- it's a new strategy that you still can't effectively measure. One specific scenario that the book doesn't explore is what to do when your channels are indirect, and you rely on distributors to sell your B2B product. He acknowledges that this is something for future consideration and that the focus of the playbooks is on businesses with a direct salesforce that sells directly to the B2B buyer.
That quibble aside, I do recommend this book, based mainly on the assertion that the technological scramble for "leads" in the last decade or so has removed the human connection from the equation, and has made us focus on customers as numbers and scores and not people. And where has this gotten us? Less than 1% of leads become customers (or pick some other number from some other analyst-- no matter what, it's low.)
The point is that B2B selling is first and foremost about building relationships. This is a lesson I learned many years ago when I was selling in the automotive industry. We were doing account management then, because you had accounts you sold to, and you managed them. If you couldn't deliver to the customer what they needed when they needed it, your account was in trouble, but the more you got to know your customers and their business, and the more they liked you and connected with you, the more secure things were. They cut you a little more slack. They made sure you were aware of what was going on. So if you wanted more business, you took care of the account well. If you wanted to add an account you had to go out and make face to face personal connections with the people involved. So truly, ABM is nothing new. The way we can use it today at scale gives us so many more ways to attract and retain business, but its how we use it to engage the people, that's where it will really make a difference.
I advise you read this book especially if you want to learn about ABM, if you're considering ABM, or if you're not sure what it would take to "do" ABM. Save yourself a lot of time and heartache: read this book before you buy any platform, decide on any ABM strategy, or bring the idea of ABM to management. It's far more readable and approachable than "A Practitioner's guide to Account Based Marketing" of which I also own a copy, and to be honest reads like and appears to be constructed more like an MBA textbook. Good stuff in there for sure, but seems to try justifying it's price based on page count (it's over twice the length of ABM is B2B).
And of course if you need any guidance on ABM best practices, how to incorporate ABM into your sales strategy, please feel free to get in touch, I'd love to have a conversation about how I can help.