Developing an account-based marketing (ABM) target list

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
10 min read

Practical help with putting together a merchant account list that gets results

ABM starts with an obvious picture of who to focus on. Sounds not difficult. But with account-based marketing (ABM) being this type of new thing for so many marketers, obtaining the right focus list is frequently much less easy since it first sounds.

I’ve found with so many clients, they end up receiving steamrolled by the ‘Who should we target’ question.

When you retain hearing exactly the same query time upon time, you understand there’s clearly an education piece that’s needed. So here we have been!

It’s worth pointing out at this time that guidance is founded on best practice gathered from being involved with numerous ABM deployments. You can find no solid rules to some of this, so feel absolve to tweak according to the individual circumstances of one’s business. Anyway, now we’ve got that taken care of, let’s begin.

Choosing the proper list building tactic

ABM is fundamentally a marketing approach that’s predicated on commercial results. Sales and marketing align to exactly the same KPIs, meaning all that counts is the amount of accounts you’ve onboarded and the quantity of revenue that’s been achieved.

With that at heart, you need to target the accounts which you have the greatest potential for converting. But how exactly to do you find out which accounts have the best potential for converting? This is a assortment of our proven methods.

The list building mix-ABM

Proximity research

Proximity is definitely an interesting element to take into account. Once you think with regards to proximity, it could start tactical opportunities:

  • Proximity to existing customers
  • Proximity to engineering depots/resource
  • Proximity to HQ

These are simply a number of the methods we’ve seen executed, you can find probably loads more you’re thinking about at this time. Proximity research in years gone by was a painstaking task – that’s before technology gave us the solution (thanks again our silicon saviour).

If your organization is fortunate to get a data warehouse that runs a visualization/BI platform – you can pass go and collect £200. For ordinary people, there’s a nifty tool called BatchGeo. This tool’s been with us for what seems a long time.  It rocks a fairly simple UI – however the insight it offers you is merely what the physician ordered.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using BatchGeo to generate an ABM list using proximity to existing customers:

  • Step 1: Export a CSV spreadsheet from your own CRM/ERP system which includes existing customers and prospects. Tip: Try to match the export formatting to as closely match the ordering and structure within the BatchGeo template file (this can save some admin on the next phase).
  • Step 2: Obtain the data in the proper structure for BatchGeo (see – wasn’t that easier because of spending a supplementary 2 minutes on the export formatting?).
  • Step 3: In another of the ‘Group’ columns, make sure that each row has either Prospect or Customer inputted in to the respective field.
  • Step 4: Copy and paste the info into BatchGeo, click ‘Map Now’ and generate.


  • Step 5: Hey presto! At this point you have a bespoke Google Map with different coloured markers for the customers and prospects. It is possible to experiment with the many formatting options to find the desired appear and feel. The procedure above is actually easily tweaked to attempt the other styles of proximity research discussed above. This makes proximity analysis for the accounts a significantly less admin intensive experience and navigating across your territories a more pleasing experience.

Roundtable approach

Having the proper ABM team from the outset is crucial. Who ought to be section of your ABM dream team? Listed below are the main element roles to take into account when you’re creating a assortment of bodies:

Project Lead

This may be the one who is ultimately in charge of bringing everything together. They’re usually a marketing leader.

They have to be anyone who has the passion and drive to create things happen, can inspire and influence colleagues behind the ABM movement, and is really a strong enough character to overcome challenges, objections and general adversity.

Project manager (PM)

The nitty-gritty co-ordinator. The PM holds the project, and individuals involved, to account. They ensure that targets are met, timings are rigid and the project stays on the right track. This must be a detail-oriented one who is really a proven project manager and obsessed about seeing things to a confident conclusion.

Executive Marketing Sponsor

For an ABM project to obtain away, and sustainably ensure it is to the stage where it’s contributing the huge returns which are possible, it’s 100% critical to make sure that support is fostered at most senior level. A senior marketing sponsor is crucial. C-Suite/board level – that’s where it requires to be. Accept less at the project’s peril!

Executive Sales Sponsor

Clearly, ABM is focused on marketing. But it’s mostly of the marketing approaches that sees a genuine shared value (and therefore shared responsibility) between sales and marketing. So if sales will be benefitting as a result (and in addition accountable) they also need representation from the C-Suite.

Usually, it is a pretty easy sell. Nothing gets a senior sales leader excited a lot more than the temptation of snaring huge strategic prospect wins which is usually a primary goal of executing an ABM campaign. When you have them involved, they’ll have the ability to ask great questions of the group to stimulate some thinking.

They also – by the type of these role – understand where in fact the big deals on the market could possibly be done later on. Important stuff right?

Marketing representative(s)

A driving force behind activating on ABM may be the advertising campaign that moves people through the funnel. Whether an amended traditional funnel, or utilizing the ‘land and expand’ methodology, marketing may be the key driver of the forward momentum towards KPI heaven.

How many reps you have involved largely depends upon how big is the business enterprise and how big is the budget. If it’s a large ABM campaign, you’ll have significantly more people involved with activation.

I think an excellent guideline here is in the event that you suspect a marketing person or team will probably be central to delivering on that momentum, they have to be engaged in a roundtable exercise.

Don’t forget, Marketing may be the frontline in to generate leads. They have crucial insights into possible target accounts, whether it’s someone they’ve met at a show the business enterprise exhibited at or perhaps a historic lead that has been followed up the rubbish salesperson who left some time ago.

Sales representative(s)

Getting involvement from the proper sales reps could possibly be the difference between an ABM campaign motoring and flopping. That’s where a great knowledge of the various personalities and mindsets really is necessary. Only fill the table with sales reps who understand the mutual value that sales and marketing can share together.

Start with a straightforward question: that are the opinion leaders within sales? They have valuable insights not merely about their accounts, but additionally the accounts of these colleagues, accounts angry making use of their incumbent, accounts they met at a meeting or tradeshow.

As long as their intentions are pure, plus they have broad enough mindset to take into account the company’s performance along with their very own commission cheque, everything will undoubtedly be alright.

Note: beware of the sales sabotage! Sometimes there may be some neat tricks from individual sales reps to over-position and over-sell the worthiness of including their accounts in the list. While it’s great they’re excited, having accounts that drive an individual’s agenda is unlikely to stay the very best interest of the ABM campaign’s result overall.

Information audit

Completing an information audit can be an important part of building an ABM list. Some companies have this as a starting place. We personally utilize it later along the way, either to augment lists developed with a couple of another tactics we’ve mentioned in this white paper, or even to filter out a few of the suggestions.

It’s vital that you think laterally about your details sources. You will have mines of relevant data held both internally and externally which will be of value in this exercise.

Information audit


Whether this can be a good spot to look within an information audit depends upon your organization. You’ll know whether this can be a good notion or not from whether you raised an eyebrow or burst out into laughter at the idea of having the ability to pull insight from your own system.

If your data’s valid, well maintained by sales, and queryable in virtually any useful degree, then get stuck in. Have a look at:

  • Lapsed customers.
  • Early stage pipeline handles notable names.
  • Account names that strike a chord predicated on other intelligence that’s been presented.
  • Later stage pipeline handles plenty of 000s by the end of the revenue line (or preferably GP line when you have the capability to measure that in advance).
  • Historic large opportunities that closed lost with a higher percentage probability. In the event that you then re-engage per year roughly before their contracted period is expected to end, ABM could be a smart way to warm them up for another bite at the cherry.

Marketing automation system (MAS)

As marketing folks with a complete understanding of the significance of quality data, and considering a lot of the info is customer inputted, we’re likely to assume here that data is practically ship shape in your MAS (or even, stop scanning this post and sort that out!).

How might you utilize it to provide some quality names into your ABM list?

  • Lead scoring – have a look at leads who’ve engaged in your articles previously. Have a scan through a few of the account names for sector fit and frequency. When you have several contacts from exactly the same company, engaging with content in exactly the same funnel, there’s probably a solid shout to service that account via an ABM campaign too.
  • IP visitors – have a look at which organizations are arriving at your site probably the most often. Should you have massive amount traffic from the company/IP match, however they aren’t currently converting, just what a great reason to use another approach. Engagement via your ABM campaign may be just the ticket to obtain a chance into your pipeline and sales engaged.


OK, it’s a metaphor, however the more folks you talk with about ABM, the more value you’ll unlock from people and departments you might do not have considered formally engaging with.

People’s gym mates and drinking buddies from the pub could be surprisingly interesting, but additionally talk with any front-line delivery staff: customer services, engineering, and the wider sales force.

You’ll find in the event that you involve them and seek their assistance, they’ll be extremely forthcoming with information that could cause you to that certain golden ticket – the main one opportunity that crushes your revenue target for the ABM campaign.

Social media

Social media could be a really interesting tool to utilize within building an ABM list, if used effectively.

Here certainly are a handful of approaches we’ve found to be particularly useful on several occasions:

  • Twitter – Using social listening streams predicated on keywords highly relevant to either the merchandise or services you sell, or indeed the outward symptoms of the issue that’s commonly experienced in early stages in the buyer’s journey, could be good cues to have a closer look. You’re unlikely to base a choice solely on that, nonetheless it is actually a weighting factor. Also, establishing a follow blast of accounts which have been isolated utilizing the other methods is definitely an interesting solution to tone down an unwieldy list. A small amount of C-Suite observation on Twitter over a comparatively short time of time can provide you a good little bit of insight about a merchant account, their challenges and future direction.
  • Linkedin – people get consumed with attempting to connect on LinkedIn. It’s worth considering it is possible to follow someone without them accepting your intro. This permits you to take part in their conversations, without irritatingly requesting a link cold and obtaining a blank response. Following someone on LinkedIn can provide you an excellent sense of the average person at play, their aspirations, their tendencies, their history. Profile checks of one particular you anticipate will be mixed up in decision making unit within the account will provide you with the opportunity in order to avoid time wasters. A vintage in the technology space, in which a large amount of my experience is, is individuals going from vendor/reseller side to client side. Now if however you work for that one vendor or reseller, then that could create a great candidate target account. If however you work with a competitor, that could or may possibly not be advisable – and you will usually have the ability to pick that up with a bit more work.

Market analysts

If you prefer engaging in the thick of it, and so are partial to a little bit of wining and dining, creating a relationship having an analyst can be a game-changing method of building an ABM list.

These organizations spend their entire day chatting to people inside a given market: customers, companies, researchers, academics, journalists.

Because this puts them right in the thick of the action within the marketplace, with a complete 360 degree picture, they often times have a rich knowledge of the existing situation and in addition future strategic direction of a large number of major businesses within the marketplace.

Warning: they’re challenging to activate with. Building trust does take time, and information is provided on an exchange basis, so prepare yourself to talk about what your organization is around. If that doesn’t cause you to too uncomfortable, and you also such as a challenge, we think it’s time well invested.

Industry events

Getting out and chatting to people inside your industry is definitely going to be considered a good way to obtain ABM information.

Try these specific tactics the next time you’re at a business event:

  • Engage in the conference keynotes and formal agenda: don’t just spend time hobnobbing in the exhibition. Your potential ABM targets have plenary sessions. They’re usually speaking specifically about their organization, its challenges, where they’re heading later on and the priorities for investment. If that isn’t useful information within an ABM list decision, i quickly don’t know very well what is.
  • Speak to the show organisers: they’re at the function from begin to finish and also have spent the final 12 months chatting to your competition and also customers to construct the proper content programme. They undoubtedly know a good amount about what’s going on plus they could be rich pickings for the odd nugget or two of quality information.
David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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