So you’ve decided that it’s time to hire an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) specialist - we don’t blame you. ABM is a highly focused business strategy which can be very beneficial for B2B technology businesses.
This post will cover all things ABM and will help you prepare to hire your next Account-Based Marketer.
- What is ABM?
- Why Would you Hire an Account-Based Marketer?
- How Will an Account Based Marketer Fit Into Your Company Structure?
- How Much Experience Do They Need?
- What Skills Do They Need to Have?
- What Do You Want This Hire to Achieve?
- Interview Questions
According to Hubspot, ‘Account-Based Marketing is a highly focused business strategy in which a marketing team treats an individual prospect or customer like its very own market. The marketing team can create content, events, and entire campaigns dedicated to the people associated with that account, rather than the industry as a whole’.
The idea behind ABM is that the marketing and sales teams can collaborate on key accounts from honing in on who is an ideal fit for the company all the way through to signing them on as a customer. Historically sales work at the bottom of the funnel and marketing the top which causes friction between the two departments.
ABM creates a holistic approach to lead nurturing where both teams can feel like winning clients was a joint effort. Moreover, a company you’re targeting can feel like you’re taking a proposition to them to help them with a problem they might have or a goal they’re looking to achieve.
According to an ITSMA ABM benchmarking survey in 2016, 84% of marketers who measure return on investment described ABM as delivering higher returns than any other approach. Just under 80% of those surveyed marketers said that ABM is important or very important to their overall marketing strategy, while 86% had said it had increased in importance over the past two years.
So it suggests that a customer-focused ABM approach will boost your business revenue and growth by working in line with your sales team.
The tailored approach of an Account Based Marketer means you are more likely to build existing customer relationships as well as craft new lasting partnerships through meaningful and relevant conversations.
Benefits could include:
- Drive more revenue from your existing accounts.
- Reposition your service or offering in your existing accounts.
- Drive more new customers in a coordinated way with sales.
So, what next?
Firstly, you’ll need to carry out some pre-hire prep. Take a look through the questions below to give you a better idea of the kind of hire you want to make. Or, if you've already started the process, you can use this list of interview questions from 8 ABM experts to make sure you're assessing them accurately.
Dependant on your company size you may be looking for an ABM specialist as an addition to a wider marketing team. If you are a start-up it could be that your first or second marketing hire uses ABM as a tactic as part of a broader marketing role.
In a larger marketing team, the role will work to align with your sales team so they will need to get familiar with each other in order to get account-based marketing done properly. Keeping the sales and marketing teams separate will only seek to make it harder for the campaigns to thrive.
We have created an example of the team structure below so you can see what it might look like.
However, whatever structure you decide upon, making ABM a success will largely depend on the buy in from within the senior leadership team.
Of course, it depends how far you want to take your marketing and the size of your company. If you’re a smaller company, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s impossible to get one marketer who can do everything and if you ask for too much of your new recruit you risk hiring a jack of all trades and master of none.
And it’s also worth thinking about the order in which you hire.
As an example, your ABM'er is going to need content to nurture leads so it may be wise to recruit a content marketer beforehand. And to develop content and execute a successful ABM program, you also need to understand your audience, which is where a product marketer can help.
You can take a look at our Content Marketer hiring guide here.
The likelihood is you’ll want someone with experience for these positions. After all, a key component of success in ABM is being able to engage with a sales team so you’ll need some who has the gravitas to do that.
Which is also why you don’t see many candidates at a junior level with pure account based marketing backgrounds.
The level of experience you’re looking for will help determine the salary that you provide as well as the jobs they are asked to do.
The more experienced the candidate, the less likely they will need extra training so they’ll be able to dive straight into the role.
And generally, we’d expect someone to have at least 5 years B2B marketing experience to be truly effective in ABM.
Bev Burgess, in her book, A Practitioner's Guide to Account-Based Marketing, agrees that the ABM skillset is ‘incredibly rare’.
Because of that she suggests looking elsewhere for your ABM talent.
And her suggestions include people with experience in;
- Marketing strategy and planning.
- Field marketing.
- Public Relations (given their writing / story telling skills).
- Partner marketing.
Bev adds that anyone who’s operated in a sales role at some point in their career, either before or after moving into marketing, would have a powerful advantage.
As well as general marketing experience and knowledge of the industry they will need to be confident and proactive.
ABM aligns your sales and marketing departments and can often involve prospecting potential clients which means they will need to be a strong communicator.
They should be creative with their ideas as they will need to find new ways of attracting and delighting new and existing customers.
Here are a few more useful skills to look for -
- Natural ability to communicate effectively. You need to gain the buy-in of the sales teams before any planning takes place.
- Ability to gather and interpret data. They will be creating tailored campaigns crafted from deep customer insights so their ability to gather information is key.
- Strong knowledge of LinkedIn analysis. The sales team may use LinkedIn to prospect customers but Account-Based Marketers will also use it as a tool to identify which accounts to go after. LinkedIn allows you to easily see the size of an organisation as well as it’s internal structure.
- Commercial acumen. Being able to take research and data and create meaningful value propositions that resonate with your customers and prospects is key.
- Ability to create useful engaging content for prospective customers. You’ll have heard the phrase “send the right message to the right person at the right time” over and over. However, with an ABM role, this really does count. Your new hire needs to have the ability to nurture customers right from the point of interaction, by sending them quality content that relates to their business challenges.
- Strong digital marketing knowledge (ABM is often part of larger campaigns). This is a given for any B2B marketing role but especially when hiring an Account-Based Marketer. If your team is small they will need to be able to work across several strands of marketing so while being an ABM specialist is key they will also need skills in other areas.
Think about the structure of your current team and what your new ABM specialist needs to bring to it.
Your goals and objectives will differ depending on whether you hire a pure account based marketer or someone who uses this as a tactic within a broader marketing role.
And of course those metrics will be different if you’re approaching ABM with a one-to-one, one to a few, or a one to many approach.
That aside, according to ITSMA, there are ten metrics that are worth considering;
- Pipeline growth.
- Revenue growth.
- Internal team (sales / account) satisfaction.
- NPS of account.
- Win rate.
- Total revenue tied to ABM.
- Customer brand perception, awareness, and knowledge.
- Return on the ABM investment (ROI).
- Portfolio penetration, cross sell/upsell.
The good thing about ABM is that it’s been proven to generate success in companies with a quick turnaround. So if you make the right hire you could start seeing results immediately!
So, now you’ve reached the next stage! You’ve whittled umpteen CV’s down to those few that match what you’re looking for and it’s time to hold some interviews and assess their ABM skills.
B2B Marketers are well known for juggling lots of different tasks. It’s key to ensure your candidate has experience in everything we have mentioned and also that they are the right kind of person for your company.
The initial interview is a chance to scope them out, find out who they are beyond their marketing experience and figure out if they are who you want. Ensure you are flexible on timings if your candidate is in full-time employment as they won’t always be able to make it in on your schedule.
A new hire who is a culture fit is just as important as someone with the right experience. They need to be able to slot into your company and get working straight away.
These are some questions that you can use to help you hire the best Account-Based Marketer for your company.
Explain how you have used ABM to drive leads at your previous job?
They might have bullet pointed their experience but it’s time to get specific. What did ABM achieve in their last place of work and how instrumental were they in that process?
What businesses do you think we should be targeting?
If they are coming in to do Account-Based Marketing at your company they are going to need to research some specific sectors and identify businesses within those. This one will put their research about your industry on the spot so you can see if they are prepared.
The CMO says they want you to target a specific business and market to key decision-makers, how would you go about it?
This allows them to put their ABM skills into practice. They can show you through active examples what they would do in a regular work situation. Not only does this put them on the spot and show their skills as a quick thinker, it proves they know what they are talking about when it comes to account-based marketing.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced at work and how have you overcome it?
This allows them to show you their problem-solving ability. As an account-based marketer, they will be speaking to a wide variety of stakeholders so you need to know how they handle difficult situations.
Start Recruiting an Account-Based Marketer Straight Away!
So, now you know what the process of hiring an account-based marketer looks like, it’s now time to set the wheels in motion. An account-based marketer can take your business from strength to strength, producing amazing results. But they’ve got to be right for the company though.
So, make sure you choose the right candidate by sticking to the above guidelines and not rushing into anything.