hiring abm

2018 was a big year for Account Based Marketing. A number of organizations adopted account-based strategies and innovative technologies, like Engagio, to execute those strategies. With that increase in market adoption, our clients began asking an obvious question: Who will lead this change? As a part of our talent services, we’ve helped clients fill this highly-sought-after, but hard-to-find, niche position throughout 2018. Now we’re peeling back the curtain and sharing our ABM interview questions with you.

Before we get into the ABM-specific interview questions, we’ve found it’s best to level-set with some basic characteristics. We reference this article from First Round Interview all the time, as it outlines seven traits of high-performers. ABM is something that requires a high-performer to lead. We highly recommend referencing that article for questions that get at the heart of the intangibles like grit, ownership, and curiosity, all of which are critical for ABM leaders.

Now on to the heart and soul of this post. Without further ado, here are the top five ABM interview questions you should ask candidates, complete with good and bad answers.

Five Questions:

1 – What does Account Based Marketing mean to you?

  • The wrong candidate will: Focus primarily on marketing execution. She may provide examples such as creating dedicated account hubs or personalizing e-books for specific accounts.
  • The right candidate will: Talk about ABM as an organizational strategy, not limited to the Marketing department. As Nicole DiNicola, Head of CX Account Based Marketing at Qualtrics wrote about, successful ABMers must “get into the details of a customer, understand the sales cycle and know what motivates salespeople.” The best Account Based Marketers are more sales-centric than the average marketer.She will also focus more on strategy and planning than execution. You’re more likely to hear terms like segmentation, buyer profiling and resource planning. The best candidates will include an outcome in their answer – market penetration, cost reduction, etc. And in each answer, you’re looking for something tailored to your business. After all, if she can’t answer questions tailored to you, how will she target her messaging for accounts?

2 – How quickly will we see results?

  • The wrong candidate will: Over-promise and give unrealistic timelines and talk in weeks and months. Adopting an account-based mentality will likely be a major change within the Marketing department, and as much as you’d like this person to be the silver bullet, she won’t be.
  • The right candidate will: Take her time to manage expectations during the interview process. Discuss how she will balance quick wins with long-term goals and give examples of how she will measure results. Understanding that leading indicators such as account engagement or coverage are ways to measure progress, but ultimately, increased customer lifetime value and reducing customer acquisition costs are the ultimate goal.

3 – What would you recommend our account-based technology stack include to ensure success?

  • The wrong candidate will: Answer you with the names of several platforms they need to be successful.
  • The right candidate will: Focus on ironing out the strategy and plan before buying any new platforms. She will understand the unique relationship between strategy and execution, neither more or less important than the other.

4 – How will you manage the change across our organization?

  • The wrong candidate will: Focus mostly on Sales and Marketing, and again, lead with executional items such as trainings and communication channels.
  • The right candidate will: Include departments beyond Marketing and Sales, such as human resources, customer success, finance, operations and public relations. Everyone within the organization should understand this new go-to-market strategy and how it will impact the company,and their daily work. Instead of focusing on tactics, the right candidate will put more emphasis on collaborating with other internal leaders to gain alignment, commitment and devise a communication plan that makes sense.

5 – Are we making the right decision by switching to an account-based strategy?

  • The wrong candidate will: Answer “yes” without providing the path that lead her to the response. She will focus mostly on category trends and how other organizations are seeing success rather than assessing her long-term job potential with your company.
  • The right candidate will: Tell you she thinks you are, based on the research she’s done on your organization, and provide you with the reasons she thinks you are. Or, she may ask additional questions about your business before providing an answer. She may ask you a few follow-up questions about your target market, revenue concentrations, sales coverage strategies, sales cycle lengths, buying committee sizes and deal size variances.

Other questions you could ask:

  • How much do you know about our organization? (If they are a true account-based marketer, they should have done their research on their target account 😉 )
  • Have you ever developed an account-based strategy?
  • What is the first thing you would do if you were hired?
  • Provide an example of a time you implemented an organizational change.
  • Provide an example of a way you impacted revenue at your last company.
  • How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends?
  • Provide an example of a time you worked with sales to increase revenue.

Building a best-in-class ABM program and team is no easy feat. For a complete blueprint for putting all of the pieces together, we encourage you to check out Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, 2nd Edition.

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