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Account-based marketing (ABM) is a targeted approach to B2B marketing that enables you to cut through the noise and directly engage accounts that matter the most. 

But doing it right means avoiding common ABM mistakes marketers make, such as viewing it as a technology, not a strategy. Any misstep while planning your ABM campaign derails your efforts and leads to significant resource wastage. 

Think of this as a handy guide to help you steer clear of the common ABM pitfalls, and the ABM best practices that ensure your strategy delivers the expected returns.

ABM Mistake #1: Viewing ABM as a Technology rather than a Strategy

A common misstep among SaaS marketers embarking on ABM initiatives is the misconception that ABM is predominantly about leveraging the latest tech stack. 

While technology plays a crucial role in enabling and scaling ABM efforts, at its core, ABM is a strategy — a way of thinking and organizing your marketing and sales efforts to engage with high-value accounts in a personalized and impactful manner. Falling into the trap of focusing too much on technology can lead to a scenario where the tools dictate the strategy rather than the strategy informing the choice of tools.

This mistake can lead to significant issues, such as overspending on unnecessary tools, underutilizing the capabilities of your current tech stack, or losing sight of the fundamental principles of ABM — personalization, alignment between sales and marketing, and focusing on account-specific outcomes.

However, the success of ABM does not hinge on the sophistication of your tools but on how well you understand and connect with your target accounts.

To ensure you're viewing and implementing ABM as a strategy first and leveraging technology as a means to an end, consider the following tips:

  • Start with Strategy, Not Tools: Define your ABM strategy based on your business goals, target accounts, and available resources. Only look for technology that supports these strategic objectives, not the other way around.
  • Use Technology to Enhance Personalization: Select tools that help you gather insights into your target accounts and enable personalized communication at scale. This could be anything from CRM integrations, such as digital sales room software, to marketing automation platforms that offer account-based targeting features.
  • Ensure Integration Across Your Tech Stack: Choose technologies that integrate well with your existing systems to provide a seamless flow of information between sales and marketing. This enhances collaboration and ensures a unified approach to your target accounts.
  • Focus on Training and Adoption: Invest in training for your team to ensure they understand how to use the ABM tools and how these tools fit into the broader ABM strategy. This helps maximize the value of your technology investments.
  • Regularly Review and Adjust Your Tech Stack: As your ABM tactics evolve, so too might your technology needs. Does it support your ABM funnel? Regularly assess the effectiveness of your tools and make adjustments as necessary to stay aligned with your strategic goals.

By prioritizing strategy over technology, you ensure your ABM efforts are driven by thoughtful planning and deep insights into your target accounts rather than being led astray by the latest tech trends. This approach helps achieve better alignment and personalization and ensures more efficient use of your marketing budget, focusing on tools that truly add value to your ABM initiatives.

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ABM Mistake #2: Failing to Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Picture this: your marketing team is churning out content and generating leads at an impressive rate while your sales team is on the frontline, engaging with warm prospects with sales collateral. 

Despite both teams working towards the ultimate goal of driving revenue, there's a chasm between their efforts, leading to misaligned priorities and wasted opportunities.

The crux lies in the traditional siloed structure where sales and marketing operate somewhat independently. In the context of ABM, this disconnect becomes particularly problematic. Marketing might be casting a wide net, generating “low quality” leads that don't align with the sales team's focus on targeted accounts, or vice versa. 

The result? A disjointed approach that fails to leverage the full benefits of ABM when engaging and converting high-value accounts.

Thus, the synergy between sales and marketing teams is crucial to efficient ABM. And ABM statistics show that this synergy can lead to more deals and higher retention rates.

Here's how to ensure alignment:

  • Conduct Joint Strategy Sessions: Regularly bring sales and marketing teams together to define and agree on the list of target accounts, set shared goals, and develop customer personas.
  • Establish Clear Communication Channels: Ensure teams have an ongoing dialogue to share insights, feedback, and progress updates.
  • Create Shared Goals and Metrics: Align the KPIs and metrics that matter to both teams, fostering a shared sense of purpose and accountability.

In practice, marketing needs to deeply understand the sales process, the challenges the sales team faces, and the specifics of what makes an account valuable. Conversely, sales should be involved in content creation processes to ensure the messaging resonates with the target accounts' pain points and aspirations. This synergy enhances the effectiveness of an ABM strategy, improves your pipeline forecasting, and fosters a more cohesive team environment.

ABM Mistake #3: Relying on Poor Quality CRM Data

Ideally, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a treasure trove of insights, filled with up-to-date and accurate information about your prospects and customers.

However, CRM data can become the Achilles' heel of your ABM strategy if it's riddled with inaccuracies, duplicates, or outdated information. This is because ABM isn't just about reaching out to accounts; it's about reaching out with precision, targeting accounts most likely to convert and become high-value customers.

The cornerstone of ABM is data-driven decision-making. When the data at your disposal is flawed, your decisions are built on shaky ground. 

Imagine targeting an account based on outdated information, only to discover they've recently switched to a competitor or no longer need your services. Not only does this waste your marketing and sales efforts, but it also squanders the opportunity to engage with accounts that are truly in-market for your solution.

To navigate around this pitfall, here’s what you can do:

  • Regularly Cleanse Your CRM Data: Implement routines to check for and remove duplicates, correct inaccuracies, and update stale information. This could be a quarterly audit where data quality is assessed and cleaned up.
  • Automate Data Capture and Updates: Utilize tools and software that automatically update your CRM with the latest information from emails, social media interactions, and other digital touchpoints. This reduces manual entry errors and keeps data fresh.
  • Enrich Your CRM Data: Invest in data enrichment services or tools that can supplement your existing CRM data with additional insights, such as industry trends, company news, and other relevant data points that can inform your ABM strategy.
  • Train Your Team on Data Hygiene: Ensure everyone interacting with the CRM understands the importance of maintaining data quality. Regular training sessions can instill best practices for data entry, updates, and maintenance.
  • Implement Data Governance Policies: Establish clear rules and protocols for handling data within your CRM. This includes who has the authority to add, modify, or delete data, ensuring accountability and minimizing the risk of data corruption.

These steps transform your CRM from a potential liability into a powerful asset for your ABM efforts. Quality data enables more precise targeting and enhances personalization, ensuring your engagement with target accounts is relevant, timely, and impactful.

ABM Mistake #4: Neglecting to Review and Optimize Continuously

Once an ABM strategy is set in motion, a critical error SaaS marketers can make is to treat it as a "set it and forget it" initiative. A static ABM strategy risks becoming outdated, losing relevance to your target accounts, and diminishing effectiveness. 

Continuous review and optimization are crucial to ensuring that your ABM efforts align with your target accounts' current realities and business objectives.

This mistake can lead to missed opportunities for engagement, misallocation of resources, and an inability to adapt to changes in the market or within target accounts. 

By its nature, ABM demands agility — a readiness to refine approaches based on performance data, feedback from sales and marketing teams, and shifts in the market. This is one of the reasons we have the ABM vs. ABX debates.

To keep your ABM strategy dynamic and effective, here’s what you need to do:

  • Set Regular Review Intervals: Establish a cadence for reviewing your ABM campaigns and strategies. This could be monthly, quarterly, or at a frequency that aligns with your sales cycles and business objectives.
  • Use Data to Drive Decisions: Leverage analytics to monitor the performance of your ABM initiatives. Look at engagement metrics, conversion rates, and ROI to identify what’s working and what isn’t. This data should inform your optimization efforts.
  • Solicit Feedback from Frontline Teams: Regularly gather insights from your sales, marketing, and customer success teams. Their frontline experiences can provide valuable context to the data, highlighting opportunities for refinement.
  • Test and Experiment: Be open to experimenting with new tactics, messages, and channels. A/B testing can reveal insights into the preferences and behaviors of your target accounts, allowing you to tailor your strategy more effectively.
  • Stay Informed on Market and Account Changes: Keep a pulse on industry trends and any significant changes within your target accounts. This includes shifts in their business model, market position, or strategic priorities that could influence your ABM approach.

By embracing a mindset of continuous improvement, you ensure that your ABM strategy remains as agile as the market it operates within.

ABM Mistake #5: Not Personalizing Content Enough

In a strategy that thrives on its ability to tailor communications to specific accounts, generic content can feel impersonal and irrelevant, significantly reducing its impact. 

The essence of ABM lies in understanding and addressing the unique challenges, needs, and interests of each target account, thereby fostering a deeper connection and moving them closer to conversion.

Without personalized content, your ABM efforts may fail to resonate with your audience, leading to lower engagement rates, a lack of traction with your target accounts, and reduced ROI. This makes target account selling much harder.

To ensure your content effectively supports your ABM strategy, ensure to:

  • Deep Dive into Account Research: Invest time in understanding each target account's business landscape, challenges, and goals. This information should inform the creation of your content, making it highly relevant and valuable to the account.
  • Segment Your Target Accounts: Categorize your target accounts based on common characteristics, needs, or stages in the buyer's journey. This allows for more focused content personalization that still scales across similar accounts.
  • Leverage Account-Specific Insights: Utilize intent data and insights from your engagements with each account to tailor your content further. This could include referencing previous interactions, current initiatives, or recent achievements.
  • Create Role-Specific Content: Different stakeholders will have different concerns and priorities within each target account. Tailor your content to address these varied roles' specific interests and challenges.
  • Test and Refine Content Strategies: Continuously measure the performance of your personalized content across different accounts and stakeholders. Use these insights to refine your approach and increase the relevancy and impact of your content.

You elevate account engagements from mere communications to meaningful conversations by prioritizing personalized content within your ABM strategy.

Unlock the Full Potential of Your ABM Campaigns

For SaaS marketers willing to invest in these principles, ABM offers a way to increase conversions and cultivate lasting, valuable relationships with the customer accounts that matter most. 

As the next step, check out these 11 real-world ABM examples from well-known B2B SaaS companies to better understand how to avoid these pitfalls in ABM.

Looking to learn more about ABM? Subscribe to our newsletter for marketing leaders for the latest expert-backed ABM tips.

By Dozie Anyaegbunam

Dozie Anyaegbunam is the Senior Editor of The CMO, digital marketing firepower for SaaS pioneers. He's a marketing strategist with years of experience in Marketing, Communications, Ecommerce, and SEO. And has worked across verticals ranging from software to edu-tech, apparel, and F&B, leading teams at B2B SaaS startups, global multinationals, and the public sector. He’s the Founder & Host of The Newcomer’s Podcast featuring immigrants and their stories of moving to a new country, and he’s currently producing a documentary on the immigrant’s experience.