How B2B Fusion’s Jon Russo is Wrong About Retrofitting ABM

In a LinkedIn post and video, Jon Russo from B2B Fusion mentioned that he listened to a best practice firm and an account-based platform vendor talk about how you need to burn down your lead infrastructure, start from scratch and rebuild your reporting as well as your ABM engine.  He thought that they have it wrong and that you can retrofit ABM just like homeowners have a choice to burn down a run-down house to the ground and start from scratch or to retrofit around the existing framework and structure, retrofitting their windows, doors, and siding. Like many others, he believes that you can retrofit your lead process, lead technology, and most importantly, your lead reporting in and around what already exists for your new ABM reporting and approach. He thinks you don’t necessarily have to “burn things to the ground” to adopt an account-based marketing strategy.

But as Kristina Jaramillo (President of Personal ABM) discusses in the podcast below, if you retrofit ABM then you’re not changing sales, marketing and customer success motions, interactions and experiences, which means you’re just marketing and selling to accounts. You’re simply doing targeted demand gen, targeted lead gen and targeted advertising. She shares how many CMOs and many ABM firms (including B2B Fusion) are confusing ABM with targeted demand gen as the focus is on sourcing the pipeline vs. getting more tier 1 accounts to revenue faster, with greater deal sizes.

Here Are the Key Points from This ABM Done Right Podcast with Kristina Jaramillo

  • By retrofitting ABM, you’re just going to build a lead engine. But ABM should not be about driving leads and a stronger pipeline. Most organizations do not have the foundation they need to see stronger revenue growth from ABM. In most cases, there’s a handoff between GTM and customer-facing teams vs. a handshake, where there is alignment, integration, and orchestration. Most ABM organizations miss the fact that ABM should change “selling” processes and motions. If sales is not fully prepared to go all in with enablement and sales orchestration in a digital world, then you are missing the mark.


  • Because teams are retrofitting ABM to the point it has become targeted demand gen, GTM teams are challenged to go upmarket, drive stage progression and create larger closes faster. They’re challenged to protect key accounts and to drive account expansion. ABM is a business strategy that requires change management – not just building around existing infrastructure.  Disconnects are created because the right processes are not in place – teams are just retrofitting.


  • Analytics show that ABM has a far greater impact in the middle and bottom of the buying journey than it does at the top. But, as discussed, most GTM teams focus on the beginning of the buyer’s journey. It’s where they’re investing time, resources, and money. As buyers progress through their journey, the investment drops, when we should be doubling down on accelerating accounts to revenue. And, we should be doubling down again after the deal is closed to retain and expand key Tier 1 accounts. Because GTM teams are focused at the beginning of the journey, they are creating lead engines versus revenue engines.


  • Most content does not support ABM. It does not support sales in driving conversations and sales cycles with accounts that are stuck in status quo or in the funnel. It doesn’t support account management and customer teams in their efforts to reduce churn, improve margin growth and increase customer lifetime value through account expansion. And in most cases, the content is disjointed. It doesn’t lead prospects to the next step once the top-of-funnel campaigns gets buyers excited about the ideas that the company holds so dear. As a result, buyers are feeling around in the dark. There is also little content for the internal discussions that sales and marketing are not part of. Because the focus is mainly on thought leadership, there is very little content to help buying teams align around their gaps and impacts.


  • If ABM is about getting accounts to revenue and existing accounts to greater revenue growth, then we have to think about every interaction that GTM teams have with target accounts. We have to think about every touchpoint, including LinkedIn profiles. But recent studies show that 95% of GTM teams are irrelevant to key accounts and customers on LinkedIn. If you take a good look at the connection invites and nurture messages you receive on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that the lack of relevance goes beyond profiles. Sales, marketing, and leadership teams are not being personal. As best, messaging are personalized, fill-in-the-blank templates, which GTM teams are speaking “at” accounts rather than “to” human buyers.


  • We need a strategy for going beyond account-based LinkedIn advertising. We need a strategy for profiles, the individual interactions GTM teams are having on social and how it should integrate with the overall ABM strategy. Your ABM strategy needs to lay out where gaps exist in the current GTM efforts, what needs to change, why it needs to change, and how. Without change management, you will not see maximum impact from your ABM program because the company as a whole will operate as usual, but now with a targeted list.


  • It’s time that we stop retrofitting ABM and treating ABM like targeted demand gen and targeted advertising. It’s time that we build a strong foundation where teams are able to improve interactions with human buyers and deliver the right account experiences to the accounts that can deliver the strongest revenue growth.


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