The starting guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Your Guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

This guide is your strategic roadmap to ABM. It provides guidance on how to start planning your first account-based marketing campaign. Equipped with key do’s and don’ts.

Account Based Marketing Guide Cover

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Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on identifying target companies and individuals and tailoring specific, targeted and relevant content to them.

The key to ABM is that sales and marketing work together seamlessly to identify key accounts and strategic key accounts and where they are in the purchasing process.

In identifying who your key accounts are, you will consider a combination of those that contribute the most to your current revenues, the 20% of accounts that give you 80% of your revenues (these are known as your key accounts), and those that have the highest future opportunity potential in that their future needs have been assessed to be very synergistic with your future offerings and solutions considering your product roadmaps (these are known as strategic key accounts).

Strategic key accounts may not be high revenue contributors today but are projected to be so in the future following a successful ABM program.

Your ABM program will be focused on your key accounts and strategic key accounts. Ensure you keep the total number of accounts to a level that you can effectively focus on and resource.

 ABM Statistics

 1) Make sure your ABM strategy is focused on being process-centric, not platform-centric.

2) ABM is a strategic approach that enforces a company’s sales and marketing message to be in sync.

3) A key part of defining and discovering your audience is to identify your current and likely future high value accounts using intelligent business data and statistics.

4) ABM is a long-term programme that demands a commitment of resources and an investment of time to see substantial returns.

5) ABM is not a funnel-filling tactic. It is a strategic, mid-to long-term relationship-building programme that requires investment.


Stage One:

Account Selection

The 5 key Stages to Account-Based Marketing.

Account selection is the single most important element of any account-based marketing selling program.


Make sure you have a customer-centric-mind-set, what this means is that you analyse your existing customers and your biggest advocates (people working inside your customer base that use and love your solution) and from this you map out a list.

Once you have mapped your list of customers and your biggest success stories, start to analyse the companies and people that have the highest social proximity to these customers.

These could be past employees of your competitors, vendors, partners, fellow alumni of your school or key social connections to your best advocates.

The relation of these people is called “social proximity” and identifying these companies/people and accounts using this method is referred to in marketing as the “Sphere of Influence”.

ABM - Stage 1


The first stage of ABM is crucial to the success of the whole marketing effort. Do not rush this step because if you spend too much time on the wrong account, the results and output will be negatively affected.

When identifying accounts avoid focusing on accounts heavily weighted on “walletshare”. (Wallet-share is the potential spend of an account which is determined by average contact value, total lifetime value).

While these accounts make sense on a spreadsheet, every competitor and every adjacent industry analysing these accounts want these accounts as customers.

“High social proximity accounts = shortened sales cycle velocity + increased probability to winning the account, all due to relationships = sustainable asymmetrical competitive advantage” (which no competitor can take from you)


Stage Two:

The Storyboard

The 5 key Stages to Account-Based Marketing.

85% of people are visual learners. This means we learn best from videos, infographics and comic book-style content consumption, making this an important factor in your planning.

Make sure you create a multi-story, multi-touch point plan for each of your accounts. Each message must be specifically tailored to the unique interests the account has shown to your services.

Content & your value proposition: The content of your stories needs careful thought and consideration. The most successful value propositions start with a business problem, in the customers words, from their perspective which leads onto how your solution will solve the issue, the benefits that you can provide and don’t forget all the reasons why you are better than your competitors. Consistency. This deserves its own sentence every single brand touch points must be unified to give your marketing consistency, ensuring you stay accountable to your messaging and to your brand guidelines & visual identity. The goal is to building brand reputation positioning you as a leader in your industry.

ABM Stages 3 & 4


Six elements of a targeted ABM value proposition:

1. Articulation of the needs/issues impacting your identified account.

2. What actions are they taking to address these issues? (the initiatives)

3. Identification of the target? Who feels the pain?

4. A description of your solution to the problem(s)

5. Benefits the buyer will receive by selecting you.

6. Needs to be equal to or superior (key differentiator(s)) to competitive offers.


Examples of resources you can create as part of your storyboarding exercise are:

• Writing an industry-specific white paper with unique best practices.

• A series of well-written, thought provoking blog articles.

• An email nurture track of hints and tips on employing a certain service based on analytical data of interests your accounts have shown on specific areas of your website.


Stage Three:


The 5 key Stages to Account-Based Marketing.

Now that you have identified your key accounts and created relevant content that resonates with decision makers and influencers at the right time, the next step is to accelerate their decision to buy and depending on the objective of your campaign, it is important to identify the stage of the purchasing process they are at and to get them to the next step. You have to be ready with the right content, at the right time. Below the diagram outlines the B2B buyer relationship model and can be used to help reflect on what content would work best at each step:

Buyer Relationship Model

Stage Four:

Project Management

The 5 key Stages to Account-Based Marketing.

You will have a variation of campaigns in your Account-Based Marketing plan so it is important to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and for the project lead to manage each aspect of the plan holistically.

Project lead:

There is one person who is ultimately responsible for project delivery. Define a calendar of when updates on progress are reported back. This could be reported weekly via email, a quarterly face-to-face meeting or some companies develop a real-time dashboard to monitor KPIs.

Decision makers:

The account team will be responsible for guiding activities, analysing the success of each stage and making key decisions of what to deliver or whether a change of direction is needed. Within a company this group of people can be made up of the sales team,

Executional team:

The executional team are the working group of individuals who are responsible for delivering the ABM plan. There will be multiple campaigns running in tandem so there may be sub-groups. Communication is key here & daily updates are crucial.


Communication is a key part of good projects. You will understand how your team communicates best for quick updates, whether that be via Slack, a team Whatsapp Group, etc, so it is important to set these up along with scheduling team face-to-face meetings and having a shared space to save account documents.


Stage Five:

Evaluating results & updating plans

The 5 key Stages to Account-Based Marketing.

According to ITSMA’s extensive research that has spanned a decade, ABM generates the highest ROI of any B2B marketing approach. However for it to be successful there are fundamental challenges that your campaign must overcome.

The first challenge is that all marketing must accurately measure and evaluate the ROI, which can be a complex area.

The second is that there must be a point of comparison to other marketing efforts to be able to determine the ROI approach as opposed to an alternative route.

Finally. it is key to set realistic timelines and expectations to all stakeholders.

Remembering that Account-Based Marketing is a long term strategic initiative that requires sustained investment to deliver maximum results.


“Positioning ABM as a company-wide strategic business initiative is more likely to generate higher returns”

All five stages of ABM

Click to: Download your PDF copy of the guide


Social proximity

Social proximity is the relationship connectivity between people and/or companies.

Client-centric marketing

the management and development of perceptions – perceptions that we manage just like market share, just like revenue. It is a programme to enhance clients’ perceptions of your company’s abilities and delivered value. It includes a full range of techniques applied to each client or prospect.

Share of wallet (SOW)

Also known as Wallet-Share, this is a marketing metric used to calculate the percentage of a customer’s spending for a type of product or service that goes to a particular company.


Thank you for reading our guide. If you would like to find out more about Account-Based Marketing, please contact us today on: [email protected] or call us on 0121 469 0041.

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