B2B account-based marketing: 7 expert opinions on why your B2B ABM campaigns fail

Learn 7 mistakes your account-based-marketing salesforce should avoid to boost success rates and avoid failure.
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Avoid the common mistakes behind why most B2B ABM campaigns fail:

  • Ensure sales and marketing teams are aligned and stay aligned throughout the campaign.
  • Lack of personalization.
  • Lack of top-down support.
  • Giving up too early.
  • Lack of common KPIs.
  • Not using the right tools.
  • Not taking the customer into account when planning.

Want your B2B account-based marketing (ABM) to deliver impressive ROI?

Understanding what ABM is — strategically targeting high-value accounts that are likely to convert — and chalking out your campaign plan are only the first steps. Next, you’ll need to maximize your chances of success by fail-proofing your B2B account-based marketing tactics.

To do that, it’s important to understand why ABM campaigns typically fail and how to reduce your risk of making the same mistakes. Learn how to do this and more as we explore seven reasons why many ABM fall flat according to seven trusted experts. 

1. Lack of alignment between sales and marketing teams

Since B2B account-based marketing typically starts off as a marketing strategy, businesses assume ABM campaigns are fully marketing-owned. But this assumption is one of the biggest reasons most ABM campaigns fail. Your marketing team and ABM salesforce need to be aligned from the get-go.

The surprising part? Even if they're aligned at the beginning, Trinity Nguyen, VP of Marketing at UserGems observes they can fall out of alignment in a quarter or two.

“It is easy to start the ABM program being aligned. But it is much harder to stay aligned and orchestrated over time when the two teams often have conflicting priorities,” she says.

Sharing her experience, Nguyen writes, “In one of my previous companies, we had all the best ABM tools. We also had alignment on our target account list and process. Or so we thought.

A quarter after launching the program, we realized that the sales team only worked on half of the target accounts. So essentially, the marketing team wasted 50% of their ABM spending. [No wonder] the results weren’t as stellar as the team had hoped. This led to mistrust between the two teams, and there went the ABM program.”

The solution? Ensure the teams coordinate throughout the campaign — not just at the start.

For instance, at UserGems, where we’ve grown revenue by 5 times in one year with our ABM program, the ADR team sits within the marketing function.

Nguyen elaborates, “It ensures that the marketing team and ADRs go after the same accounts — and the same buyers — at the same time. When it is coordinated, our conversion rates double.”

2. Lack of common KPIs for determining a campaign’s performance

“Account-based marketing campaigns, in my opinion, fail due to a lack of common KPIs,” shares Daily Profit Cycle’s Founder, Nick Hodge.

“While there will undoubtedly be some disparities in objectives, there must be common performance indicators to measure overall achievement.

If marketing teams are evaluated solely on their ability to create leads, for example, this incentivizes them to generate more leads regardless of quality. 

Simultaneously, when sales teams are assessed solely on sales metrics such as transaction size, sales may engage with a fraction of prospects they deem worthwhile of their time.”

And this is exactly what leads to the poor performance of the account-based marketing campaign. The solution?

Marketing and sales teams should coordinate on establishing consistent KPIs

This will ensure both teams are held responsible for delivering the same standard of work and are motivated by the same results.

3. Little to no campaign personalization

This is another reason why most account-based marketing tactics fail.

“Successful ABM is hyper-personalized at both the company and persona levels and includes an input list of target accounts that are carefully researched and hand-curated,” explains UserGems’ Senior Director of Revenue Operations, Joss Poulton.

“Campaigns then span multiple channels for a significant amount of time, creating brand presence through thought leadership and stoking product interest between the top and middle of the funnel.”

This makes it clear:

B2B account-based marketing thrives on personalization.

And yet, most B2B ABM campaigns fall flat because the content isn’t tailored to meet the target account’s requirement. In Poulton’s words: “Unsuccessful ABM campaigns blast the same generic emails to one large audience of target accounts and lean on sales reps to do that painful work in the middle to draw people in where marketing couldn’t.”

So how do you keep your B2B ABM campaigns from failing due to lack of personalization? Poulton recommends creating authentic inbound interest by addressing your target accounts’ pain points and educating them about how you can help to resolve them.

4. Not taking the customer into account

According to Bergel Law’s Director of Operations, Lanny Tuchmayer, customer dissatisfaction is another leading reason why B2B account-based marketing tactics fail. 

“Account planning, and ABM, must be centered on the client,” Tuchmayer advises. “More than your own solutions, you must comprehend the customer’s world and how you might assist them.”

To this end, it’s essential that marketing and sales teams coordinate on understanding the ideal customer and what their struggles are. Additionally, take the time to map out exactly how your product/service will help them.

Simply put, make sure your marketing efforts answer the what’s-in-it-for-me question that prospects have.

“Marketing must be genuine and based on the success of the consumer,” Tuchmayer suggests. “Without that, it will become a sales distraction and the buyer will perceive it as a bother.”

5. Lack of top-down support and consistency

“I think the key here is that the ABM initiative needs support from higher up,” says Khuyen Nguyen, UserGems’ Marketing Campaign Lead.

Without it, the odds of your B2B account-based marketing campaign’s success go down

“Because ABM requires a high level of commitment and teamwork from across multiple resources in the company, support from the top is critical for its success,” Nguyen explains.

So, how do you get stakeholder buy-in?

“To guarantee buy-in for future ABM campaigns, getting an early win is crucial,” recommends Travis Lindemoen, the Managing Director at Nexus IT Group.

To turn your one chance of making your B2B ABM campaign a success, Lindemoen says, “Make sure you have the budget to generate targeted content assets (ads, mailers, and so on),  the time to collaborate with sales more closely, and the media spend to run the necessary quantity of paid media to meet your ABM goals.”

It’s only when you take the correct first steps that you can guarantee success. 

6. Giving up too early

Although Lindemoen notes it’s essential you put in upfront work to get an early win for convincing stakeholders, he also warns against giving up early.

“The most common mistake companies make is not seeing enough progress with their initial campaign and then soon abandoning paid media — or other ABM levers — that are crucial for succeeding ABM initiatives. 

To be successful with ABM, you must be willing to make a multi-year commitment,” explains Lindemoen.

“Organizations that intend to adopt ABM can expect marketing and sales operations costs to climb in the short term since a large amount of planning, testing, and collaboration is required to get traction.”

7. Not leveraging the right tools

While this won’t necessarily cause a campaign to fail, at the very least, it slows progress.

“There are dozens of account-based marketing platforms on the market. But you don’t need to [use] a specific ABM platform”, Evking’s Managing Director, Gavin Johnson observes.

“A customer relationship management (CRM) platform that can report on engagement and the progress of customers moving through the sales process is all you need at the most basic level. You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, and AdRoll for account-based ad targeting after you’ve mastered these KPIs, or you can try with gifting applications for your first campaign,” explains Johnson.

“To execute a small pilot, none of these products demand six-figure yearly commitments or contracts. It’s time to start looking at adding additional horsepower to your toolkit when you’ve successfully demonstrated that an ABM approach will work for your firm.” 

At UserGems too, our B2B account-based marketing plan wasn’t powered by a big budget or dozens of tools. Instead, we used:

  • Salesforce for understanding our ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Our own Account Tracking product that helps with identifying relevant prospects to target and add the right prospects to our CRM.

Fail-proof your B2B account-based marketing today

To be successful, your B2B account-based marketing salesforce and marketing teams need to be aligned — not just at the planning stage but throughout the campaign.

This ensures all the players involved in your ABM campaign have a strong understanding of the target customer, their struggles, and how your product/service can help them. In turn, this helps you to personalize your marketing, so it better resonates with the target account.

And, it’s just as important to make sure you’re using the right tools.

Want to start off strong? We recommend reaching out to the relevant people in your target accounts Customer job changes are an untapped lead source for your ABM campaigns. Using UserGems for account tracking, see who left a company, joined a new one, and got promoted within your target accounts.

Not convinced yet? Take UserGems for a spin and see what it can do for you.


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