Account Based Marketing Is No Longer Just for the Enterprise

By: Matt Buckley  |  October 15, 2016

The concept of target accounts has existed in enterprise sales for years. However, after close to a decade of the “inbound” revolution, new life has been injected into an account focused sales model under the buzz word of Account Based Marketing (ABM). As this trend continues to gain momentum, CEOs need to ask themselves, what does this mean for my business?


To begin, let’s define what account based marketing means and why it has come to the forefront in the minds of marketing and sales leadership. Inbound demand generation has been compared to fishing with nets, where a broad net is thrown to catch a variety of fish, only a small subset you might be interested in catching. Account based marketing can be compared to fishing with spears, focusing only on the fish that you know you want to catch and ignoring the others. In the world of business, this renewed focus on target accounts is helping organizations increase both sales efficiency as well as alignment between the marketing and sales departments. If fishing metaphors aren’t your thing, ABM software provider Engagio defines the practice as “a strategic go-to-market approach that orchestrates personalized marketing and sales efforts to drive engagement and conversion at named accounts.”


Historically, ABM has been the strategy of choice for enterprise companies selling six figure contracts, where the effort required to personalize the marketing and sales experience is well worth the return. Over the past year or two, marketing technology companies like Engagio, Terminus, LeadGenius, and Everstring have brought account-based marketing into the lower mid-market. This innovation allows companies selling contracts as low as $20K/year to harness ABM to align their marketing and sales teams and offer a more personalized and effective sales experience to their target accounts.

For firms who have already built successful businesses off the back of traditional inbound demand gen, it’s important to understand that ABM and traditional demand gen are not mutually exclusive. In fact, an informed ABM strategy can only enhance and provide focus to existing demand generation programs. Many organizations that are building and scaling successful ABM programs consider it only a piece of their go-to-market strategy.


The first step in deciding if ABM is right for you is to assess your current go-to-market strategy across these key areas:

  • Average selling price (ASP): Is your ASP high enough that you can justify spending the additional resources on ABM? $20K is the ballpark price floor that we have seen.
  • Target market: Do you serve a market of identifiable accounts where information on key stakeholders, org structure and insights can be identified? If so, you’re well positioned for an ABM strategy.
  • Marketing and sales team structure: Is your team structured in a way that marketing can execute on account or industry specific campaigns that show deep industry expertise? Are your marketing and sales teams aligned, allowing them to effectively collaborate to break into target accounts? Do you already have (or the resources to hire) market development reps (MDRs) who can support account research and prospecting?
  • Leadership alignment: ABM signifies a broader shift in mindset than just a new marketing campaign launching this quarter. For your strategy to be successful, leadership across the organization must agree on the strategy and be willing to give it enough time to succeed.

Depending on your answers above, you should have a good idea of whether ABM is feasible. Next, determine the scale of ABM that makes the most sense. A helpful framework for this next phase of your strategy is the three tiers of ABM that can help you focus on exactly how many target accounts you will need to develop and guide you towards the appropriate tactics you can use to engage them.


ABM can align your marketing and sales departments, grow your pipeline and increase win rates. However, it’s not a fit for every company. As you move forward with ABM, take the time you need to align your leadership team, fully develop your ideal customer profile, and research your target accounts before you jump immediately to tactics. Without the requisite time spent in the planning phase you’ll be setting yourself up for a false negative. In the right market, with a well-researched accounts and campaigns to engage them, ABM can give you an important lever to differentiate your business from the competition and break into accounts that you haven’t been able to in the past.


The statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, beliefs, assumptions, estimates, and projections about the industry and markets.  Forward-looking statements contained herein are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. Mainsail Partners is under no obligation, and does not intend, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect changes in the underlying assumptions or factors, new information, future events, or other changes.
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Matt is a Vice President at Mainsail Partners. He works with Mainsail’s portfolio companies to implement marketing and sales strategies to fuel growth.
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