ABM Readiness: Where GTM Teams Go Wrong When Piloting an ABM Program

ITSMA and Tech Target studies show that 69% of ABM programs underperform in delivering greater ARR, GRR and NRR growth. This is further evidenced by the fact that Demandbase, Terminus, 6sense and other ABM tech platforms struggle with 50-60%+ client churn as reported by their customer success teams.

The issue is not technology related though. The problem is that teams are not thinking about the complete account experience across the buyerโ€™s journey and customer lifecycle as ABM is not about fixing the pipeline. Itโ€™s about accelerating high-value accounts to revenue at a higher ACV and then expanding the deals to increase customer lifetime value.


Below are the 8 pillars that most ABM teams and their firms focus on when starting their ABM pilot. But they are missing a key step.

1. Define your ABM goals

How can you define your goals without taking a deep dive in the business and uncover the “red” along the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle? Teams need to uncover where their biggest GTM challenges lie and where their greatest revenue growth opportunities exist.

2. Define your ICP

How can we define our ICP without seeing where we are winning and where we are losing. Most ICPs do not start with revenue and they do not go deep enough to really uncover the accounts teams should be targeting that have the highest growth potential now and in the future. As Matt Brown mentioned on the ABM Done Right Podcast, customer success teams do not have a process to distinguish between a ideal best fit customer and low growth potential customers. You can listen to his podcast below.

3. Account list building
The accounts that teams target should have high intent, high engagement, a strategic priority in place and where teams have a differentiated relevant story to tell. Doug Landis (Growth Partner at Emergence Capital and Advisor to companies like Sales Assembly) mentioned in a recent Forbes article:

Before you can take Dougโ€™s advice, you need to understand the role you can play in their strategic initiatives and the impact you will have; otherwise, you will just be another item on their list of things to do eventually.โ€

4. ๐€๐œ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐œ๐ก ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ณ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง
Account intelligence should drive ABM programs (and itโ€™s a key component of our ABM enablement program) as it will help create a point of view about the prospects’ business. But, you cannot come to every interaction with a point of view about your future customersโ€™ businesses if your team does not have a clear point of view about their business. Unfortunately, too many teams do not have a POV and even the experts are getting POVs wrong. We discuss this in the podcast below:

5. ๐€๐œ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ ๐๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ฅ๐จ๐ฉ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐ฒ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ค
How can we build this playbook without getting a full view of the interactions that teams are having and the experiences that are being delivered across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. How can we change processes, interactions, motions and experiences without seeing what’s working and what’s not?
DAT Freight and Analytics came to Personal ABM wanting to get started fast with an ABM pilot using Demandbase. But their plan would have only scaled bad โ€œtransactionalโ€ sales, marketing and customer success processes that were leading to their solution being seen as โ€œnice to haveโ€ vs. โ€œmust-have.โ€ This was an issue that led to lower value deals, weak enterprise win rates and higher churn. It also led to objections with their pricing structure which was based on a percentage of freight spend vs. # of seats.

6. Building the ๐“๐ž๐š๐ฆ
Before you can build and integrate the team and have team alignment on the changes on how we need to go to market, they need to say their gaps. They need to see the hard truth about what is going on with their GTM. Below are some of the things weโ€™re looking for across the buyerโ€™s journey and customer lifecycle with our ABM readiness program.

7. ABM tech
Many teams rush to get technology like Demandbase, 6sense, and Terminus, but these platforms can scale a bad strategy as quickly as they can scale a good one. Again, we need to see what’s working and what’s not and drive changes in the complete account experience.

8. Reporting and tracking

The revenue reporting needs to be tied to the challenges you’re trying to fix along the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. The ABM pillars that many GTM teams and their firms are important but there needs to be a foundational pillar before we look at goals and the other pillars.

Click here to learn more about our ABM readiness program.

Besides missing the foundational step that will change account experiences across the buyerโ€™s journey and customer lifecycles, many teams rush to scale with their ABM pilot and focus on 1:few and 1:many programs. Firms like StrategicABM mentioned on LinkedIn that companies should not start with a 1:1 program. Davis Potter at ForgeX also just posted on LinkedIn that choosing to do a 1:1 Enterprise ABM pilot is like playing with fire. On his podcast, Tania Saez mentioned that youโ€™re placing all of your eggs in a few accountโ€™s baskets so it’s a big strategic bet. She also talked about the opportunity cost of resources. Your ABM teamโ€™s headcount, budget and cross-functional partners will be narrowly focused.

However, we believe if you do not start with 1:1 ABM, then you’re playing with fire as you need to look at individual interactions and the individual experiences the team delivers across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. We need to change the account experience and then take the lessons and scale it for a 1:few and 1:many program that feeds 1:1.

If you focus on 1:few and 1:many, you’re most likely doing marketing as usual, just more targeted. ABM is not about getting accounts into the pipeline. It’s about getting accounts to revenue. But because teams focus on 1:few and 1:many programs first — and do not change the account experiences, they are often stuck with accounts going dark after initial engagement. This is what happened with Uniphore โ€“ a conversational AI firm.

Changing the account experience enabled Uniphore to re-engage and accelerate to revenue tier 1 banks like Bank of America and drive the growth it needed to become part of the Bay Area Fast 500 Winning Companies.

Click here to read the Uniphore case study and see the changes that needed to be made.

Click here to learn more about our personal 1:1 ABM approach



Itโ€™s not enough to just define your ICP โ€“ it needs to be orchestrated across the organization. Itโ€™s not enough to just map out processes that need to be changed and put together ABM playbooks. Sales, marketing, and customer success teams need a middle layer that we call account-based enablement, as ABM is not about campaigns. Itโ€™s about each touch point, each time your GTM teams have a chance to create a memorable moment with prospects and customers. Itโ€™s about each interaction and how the human buyers in the accounts you want to win, protect, and expand feel after engaging with sales, marketing, and customer success teams. We need to change the thinking from a campaign orientation to thinking about focusing on the right accounts and customers, and this is how we are going to orient our marketing and GTM to those customers to maximize ARR, GRR, and NRR, protect at-risk accounts to remove churn and to drive expansion with their most profitable customers. Itโ€™s about driving future revenue growth in years 2, 3, 4,5,6, 7, and 8, and so on, and increasing the customer lifetime value because thatโ€™s where they see the strongest opportunity for future growth.

On the ABM Done Right Podcast, we discussed with Steve Richard (VP of Revenue Enablement at MediaFly) how sales, marketing and customer success teams need revenue enablement and account-based enablement where they can get specific content, messaging and insights for the struggling moments that sit at the center of every deal โ€“ moments that need to be listened to, understood, catered to, reframed and solved. We need to enable sellers, marketers and customer success teams in the flow of their work for specific accounts where they can respond with speed and precision no matter what obstacles or opportunities come their way. We need to influence the selling conversation, the account retention conversation, the account expansion conversation and the internal conversations that are happening behind closed doors.

Steve mentioned that he sees the need to enable sellers and customer success teams to have social, email and live conversations with the buyers and influencers in the organization that they do not yet have relationships with. They need account-based insights and personal content that earns sales and customer success teams a conversation and the right for the C-suite and VPs to engage and get involved in the buying, renewal or expansion process. Customer success and sales teams need to know what content to use, know when to use it and how to deliver the right message across the organization. And, that is not automated sequences in Sales Loft or Outreach. Teams need to know how to deliver high-touch, personal 1:1 messages and content that shows how you are aligned with their business vision, you understand their specific gaps and how it would impact the key decision makers teams are trying to reach โ€“ as well as their department and the company as a whole.

Account-based enablement is an area that Steve would like to explore further at Mediafly as heโ€™s dabbled with it but has not gone deep enough due to limited resources. Steve sees that in the future more companies will adopt account-based enablement to uplevel their ABM programs. You can listen to his podcast episode below:

Click here to see how Personal ABM can enable your sales, marketing and customer success team.

Book a Free ABM Strategy Session and Get Even More ABM Insightsโ€ฆ

Whether you are looking to start a new ABM journey or need help with your existing ABM program, letโ€™s talk so you can become part of the 33% of programs that outperform in delivering business outcomes.

During our call weโ€™ll discuss weโ€™ll discussโ€ฆ

  • 9Your business goals.
  • 9Your revenue challenges.
  • 9Your ABM readiness โ€“ and the steps you need to take.
  • 9Our personal account-based approach that drives stage progression, improving win rates and increasing deal sizes for clients.
  • 9How you can accelerate existing ABM programs and scale it in a way that drive business outcomes versus just pipeline growth.