The CMO Guide: Account-based marketing 2019


‘Offensive terminal point’ was a key military strategy that was used by generals to win battles that were not necessarily stacked in their favor. It was a tactic meant to surprise opponents and was based on the principle that the narrower your frontline, the deeper you could penetrate the battlefield. Businesses are discovering that this principle holds true in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Firms that focus on fewer customers, i.e., with a narrow focus, can understand their customers’ needs better and subsequently deliver more value to them.

Competitive advantage is gained not merely from best-of-breed products or superlative services, because these are easily imitated; thriving relationships are the key. Customer relationships form the bedrock of growth for companies of all sizes across all industries.

After years of spreading wide nets to catch as many fish as possible, businesses have realized that their strategic advantage is not derived from ‘catching’ as many customers as they can, but from catching the right ones and nurturing them. This new approach has businesses trading in their fishing nets for sharpened spears. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is one such tool.

As defined by the Information Technology Service Marketing Association (ITSMA) and ABM Leadership Alliance in their report, ‘Raising the Game with ABM: 2018 Benchmark Study,’ “ABM is a strategic approach to designing and executing highly- targeted, personalized marketing programs and initiatives to drive business growth and impact with specific, named accounts.”

Amidst the swirling mass of customer acquisition, retention and experience strategies, ABM stands tall where it matters. When asked to cite ABM’s benefits, most people highlight shortened sales cycles and maximum returns. However, the area where ABM really outshines other tactics is in deepening customer relationships. ABM invites businesses to be customer-obsessed. It has flipped the funnel around. If traditional marketing and sales funnels focused on leads and converting those leads into customers, ABM focuses on identifying key customers and using specific strategies to take them along a journey that leads to long-term, fruitful partnerships. The value of ABM is in its ability to foster strong customer relationships by enabling businesses to develop the processes, tools, data and culture required to make target customers the primary focus. According to Forrester, firms that do this are twice as likely to enjoy loyal customer relationships and see revenue growth in excess of 10 percent.


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