Why Your Focus Shouldn’t Be on Scaling ABM

Kristina Jaramillo, host of the ABM Done Right Podcast and President of Personal ABM cringes every time she hears someone talking about scaling ABM because in most cases, scaling for sales and marketing means reaching more potential buyers. It means that….

  • Sales and marketing teams are focused on the quantity of interactions vs. the quality of interactions.
  • GTM teams are treating ABM as something to do.
  • ABM is simply becoming account-based advertising, account-based lead gen and marketing as usual but more targeted using tech like Terminus, 6sense, and Demandbase.

Our desire to scale is one of the biggest reasons why ITSMA reports that 2/3 of ABM programs do not drive significant business improvement and why Tech Target reports that 66% of ABM programs underperform. As Kristina talks about in her rant, we should first focus on using ABM to fix business challenges beyond the pipeline. We should use ABM to fix the interactions we’re having with tier 1 target accounts and the experiences we’re delivering them.

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Here Are the Key Points Kristina Jaramillo Makes in Her Rant:

  • In an attempt to scale ABM, most companies are first engaging in 1: few and 1: many programs. With one-to-many ABM programs, you speak at “industries” and “personas.” You focus on general assumptions and pain points. With one-to-few, you speak at target accounts and target personas that are in similar industries, are showing similar intent signals, and appear to be in similar buying stages. And, in both cases, ABM is campaign-based, and sales and marketing teams are pushing out content and messaging and hoping that something sticks. It’s marketing as usual, but now we’re using intent data and ABM technologies to take a more targeted “spray and pray” demand gen approach.


  • When companies focus first on scaling ABM, they build a pipeline but, in many cases, it does not translate to revenue. For example, at the B2B MX – Next Level ABM event where Kristina Jaramillo spoke on using ABM for deal acceleration, Blue Yonder talked about creating hundreds of millions of dollars in pipeline using ABM. But less than 50% of the pipeline did not translate to revenue. In the last couple of weeks, we at Personal ABM talked to VPs of Growth, VPs of Marketing, and Sales leadership at companies that are seeing 5% conversions from stage 0 to close. We’re talking to companies that are seeing stage o to 1 conversion percentages in the teens. We’re talking to sales and marketing teams that are challenged with accounts going dark after sales engagement and it’s because these companies did not change sales and marketing motions. They did not change sales and marketing interactions. They didn’t change account experiences and how they build human relationships across target organizations.


  • We can’t build enterprise relationships because sales and marketing teams are so focused on scale instead of focusing on the interactions, they need to have with the human buyers in the accounts they want to win, protect, and expand. We can’t build a relationship because sales and marketing are not focused on the experiences we need to deliver to specific human buyers. It’s time we focus on the humans behind the personas we’re targeting.


  • The more we focus on scaling ABM, the further away we get from having the right interactions and delivering the right experiences. The more we try to scale ABM, the more ABM becomes account-based advertising, account-based lead gen, and marketing as usual but a bit more targeted with technologies like 6sense, Terminus, and Demandbase.


  • It doesn’t matter how much you scale ABM if you’re not getting stage progression. We need to change sales motions, conversations, and the interactions that sales and marketing teams are having first. If we do not have sales velocity and revenue opportunities keep getting stuck or they become dark, what good was all that time and focus on getting the accounts to start their journey?


  • We need to first apply ABM to fix the revenue leaks within the sales, marketing, and customer success organizations. This goes beyond building a pipeline and using ABM to reach as many prospects as possible within our ICP. It requires marketing to make a real impact on the complete buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. To fix our revenue leaks, we need to take a more personal approach that focuses on the human buyers within tier 1 accounts. Every move that sales, marketing, and customer success teams take should be a calculated move and then put those interactions under a microscope. See what’s working and when you have a proof of concept and proof of success, you can then take your learnings and apply it to an ABM program for tier 2 and 3 accounts. That’s how you scale ABM. You fix the business problems with tier 1 accounts and apply learnings to tier 2 and 3 accounts.

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