abm prophets of profit 2019

Organizations with visions are trailblazers. They succeed where others fail. By working towards the prospects of a different future, they are, in turn, creating the future. Having vision and foresight is a crucial component to succeeding as a business.

For the third year in a row, we bring you the “prophets of profit” where we ask some of the top thinkers in B2B marketing what they believe the future holds for Account Based Marketing.

These trailblazers offer their predictions of trends in the B2B marketing world for 2019. Enjoy!

matt heinz prophets of profit

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Matt Heinz,
President, Heinz Marketing

I believe far more companies will migrate part of their marketing strategy to ABM but won’t outright call it ABM. The more B2B marketing organizations narrow their focus on the right customers, work closely with sales at every stage of the buying journey, and help to build consensus amongst the internal buying committee at those target accounts, they’ll improve their impact and results.

justin gray prophets of profit

Justin Gray,

I predict that marketing begins to focus on the comprehensive customer lifecycle – moving past acquisition and concentrating on customer marketing. We’ve seen this in many of our top customers who are utilizing an ABM go-to-market focus and they are using it as a means of reducing marketing vs sales friction. I see the potential for a lot of organizations to do the same and shift customer LTV into the spotlight as a marketing KPI.

jessica fewless prophets of profit

Jessica Fewless,
VP, ABM Strategy and Field Marketing

While the promise of AI-fueled intent was touted in 2018, 2019 will be the year marketers actually put it to good use! And those that do, will really change the game!

The Promise of Intent – Get out ahead of the competition. Better anticipate what prospects and customers need to hear from your organization. Leverage intent signals to drive segmentation for your marketing programs. Get the intent data into the hands of your Sales team to inform their strategy, outreach and interactions.

The Challenges with Intent – There is a steady stream of intent signals. It’s not practical or effective to react to all signals on a constant basis. So how do you operationalize intent to consume and react to all that data? What intent deserves immediate action? And what is just a signal or another data point for you to consider in the broader picture? And when you decide which signals receive which treatments, how do you build the processes to activate on those signals in meaningful and effective ways?

In 2019, Marketers will tackle these challenges and really change the game for B2B marketing. They will wrap their heads around all of this data and start leveraging it in ways that impact the revenue-generating potential of their organizations. They will put the processes and technology in place to help them realize the promise of intent and scale their ability to generate and accelerate pipeline.

katie martell prophets of profit

Katie Martell,
B2B Marketing Speaker and Consultant

The ABM train has left “new shiny object” station and is currently right in the middle of “broad adoption depot” as B2B firms come to realize they can’t create sufficient demand without it. What that means, of course, is more competition for the attention of key buyers at your target accounts.

It’s not enough to have the best tools and technology this year (that’s table stakes). The battlefield in 2019 moves to creativity and insight.

How you engage a target account indicates the quality of your thinking, the value you bring to the table, and the forthcoming experience a buyer will have doing business with you. (You know what they say about first impression.)

ABM is where thought leadership should be brought to bear.

As more companies adopt an account-focused strategy, it forces us to raise the game on the type of brand experience we create with each touchpoint. Don’t skimp on low-quality direct mail pieces, waste time with ordinary email campaigns, or burn a bridge with irrelevant personal outreach.

If every brand is using ABM to connect with a limited # of target accounts, the quality of each of your touchpoints matters more than ever. Get creative, get relevant, get customized, and get to work.

craig rosenberg prophets of profit

Craig Rosenberg,
Chief Analyst, TOPO

In 2019, ABM will go mainstream.

Organizations are doubling down on investment and more organizations are coming online. Account based has been the hottest topic in B2B sales and marketing for two years. As a result, the B2B market is shifting furiously to account based. At the beginning of 2018, only 18% of the market was mature (2 years+ in account based). The number of organizations executing account based increased significantly in 2018 and will continue to rapidly grow in 2019.

The growth in the account based market growth is fueled by the validation from early adopters that account based strategy deliver on key business outcomes.

Data from TOPO’s recent account based benchmark confirms this:

Account based delivers on strategic, board-room metrics:

  • 80% of respondents improves customer lifetime values
  • 86% say it improves win rates
  • 76% say it delivers higher ROI

Account based creates opportunities and pipeline (target account pipeline):

  • Respondents cited a 20% opportunity rate – that means for every 5 accounts targeted, a new opportunity in a target account is created.

peter isaacson prophets of profit

Peter Isaacson,
CMO, Demandbase

ABM will become a core platform for marketers in the MarTech stack.

While CRM is the system of record for all sales activity and marketing automation systems are used by almost all sophisticated B2B marketers, each carries well-known limitations. In particular, both focus on known, individual contacts. In an account-based world, that’s not enough. As a result, ABM platforms are quickly becoming the third leg to the B2B marketing tech stack. Together with CRM and marketing automation solutions, B2B marketers can span individual to account, and known to unknown in their marketing and sales activities.

eric wittlake prophets of profit

Eric Wittlake,
Senior Analyst, TOPO

Account based has moved from a cool, new trend to a proven, high ROI foundation for go-to-market strategy. The market growth will be fueled by wider adoption and current account-expansion.

The number of account-based programs will grow by at least 150%.

  • Account based is entering a new phase in growth as the early adopters validate the potential for real business outcomes (win rates, lifetime value) and campaign success (predictable opportunity rate). the market sees the proven outcomes from early adopters.

Current programs will rapidly expand with an expected 33% budget increase in 2019.

We anticipate the budget increases to be applied to two areas of program expansion:

  • Target account list expansion – For example, programs that ran their account based on 100 accounts, will expand to 200.
  • New segment expansion – Most organizations choose one segment to test their account based programs, now they will expand into another segment (or segments). For example, a program focused only on a small number of their top, enterprise accounts will expand their account based efforts into their wider target accounts supporting a different sales organization. In this use case, programs would go from heavily (75-100% customized) to semi-custom programs (20% customized).

jon miller prophets of profit

Jon Miller,
CEO, Engagio

There are two trends I want to highlight for ABM in 2019. The first is more ABM automation at scale. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of companies piloting ABM – they’re executing campaigns, direct mail, events, etc. Not everybody is there yet, but I think we’re starting to see more companies that are figuring it out. They know what they want to do and they’re executing well, so the next level is automating parts of it. They’re asking smart questions, like “How do I automatically trigger the right interaction at the right time based upon what the account is doing?” So, just as we saw 10 years ago when people were figuring out how to do marketing at scale (i.e., “marketing automation”), we’ll see people begin to automate ABM.

The second trend we’re going to see is marketers spending more time and energy thinking about the full funnel and post-sale opportunities with ABM. This may pick up more in the latter half of the year, but we’re seeing it beginning to gain momentum now.

10 to 15 years ago, people thought marketers were the group that threw parties and made color brochures. But then, we all helped changed that and became part of the revenue engine. Now, we are a vital piece of the revenue team. But even today, the concept of marketing as a revenue engine is primarily focused on generating net new pipeline and net new business. This means they’re not really part of the full revenue engine.

In a recurring revenue business, most of the revenue is coming after the sale, so it’s time for marketing to evolve again. We went from parties to revenue. Now it’s time to become full-cycle revenue. Don’t just think about landing new business – think about expanding and retaining existing customers. It’s going be a significant change for marketers, but I think we’ll see that happen in 2019.