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    Moving From Demand Generation to ABM

    Written by David Doughty on August 22, 2019

    Moving from Demand Generation to ABMShifting up from demand generation to ABM requires intentional organizational changes. It’s not as simple as identifying target accounts and assigning sales reps. Company leadership across departments have to be ready to commit to applying the best resources to the best clients and potential clients. ABM is not one advertising tool; it’s a combination of the right mindset, processes, tactics, and metrics to drive growth.

    Think you're ready to begin implementing ABM at your organization? Here are changes your team should be prepared to undertake to see the results proven to occur from an organized ABM program.

    Departmental Roles

    With a demand generation focus, marketing and sales teams must consistently communicate. Marketing and sales agree on lead scoring criteria, regularly qualify and pass leads back and forth, and meet to discuss results and future needs. Marketing is mostly focused on generating leads, and sales is mostly focused on letting marketing know the quality of those leads. 

    When you are preparing to deploy ABM, sales and marketing move from communication to coordination. Both teams meet, along with customer success and operations, to determine the highest priority accounts and jointly share responsibility for generating results. Marketing and sales work together to create coordinated plays, where marketing owns certain kinds of touch points (email, social, ads) and sales owns others (calls, meetings, demos). ABM requires a level of integration that is truly a discipline, not a cadence.


    Company Goals

    When moving from inbound marketing towards demand generation, the focus goes from generating leads to generating opportunities. Marketing retains ownership of the lead generation side of the equation – getting leads from marketing qualified lead (MQL) to sales qualified lead (SQL) – and starts to be accountable for leads that become opportunities.

    Supporting metrics like click-through-rates and conversion rates help as indicators of the qualified lead goals. An increase in leads flowing from MQL, to SQL, to Opportunity further validates lead quality. Sales teams function as the owners of the revenue generation side of the equation and focus on the rest of the pipeline metrics. This can include the number of deals within down-stream stages, rates at which deals move between stages, as well as the velocity at which deals move through the pipeline.

    ABM requires that you shift these top-level metrics and indicator metrics to more holistic goals. The most important metric for an ABM focus is ROI. If you’re not moving the needle here, then you’re not reaping the primary benefit of ABM (more efficient revenue). Indicators also shift towards KPIs like number of contacts in target accounts, buying intent signals, and engagement with content, as well as account-specific metrics like the deal size and the total value of the account.


    Organizational Structure

    Marketing and sales teams are generally separate teams in demand generation organizations. They come together by creating service level agreements (SLAs) that define how often they’ll communicate, the metrics they’ll measure, and the process for qualifying and accepting leads. Marketing is focused on opening the door to opportunities, so there’s typically no need to integrate more.

    Organizational structure changes drastically once you’re ready to implement ABM. Marketing and sales teams are often fully integrated into a revenue generation team. Marketing takes on new responsibilities for providing signals and insights into accounts rather than just new contacts. As with any other organizational realignment, it’s necessary to evaluate compensation and team capabilities to determine if changes or new hires should be made.


    Data Needs

    As with other aspects of demand generation, the data needs for demand generation are focused on identifying how contacts are interacting with your company. Contact records in CRMs hold information like emails received, calls made, content downloaded, etc. Each contact should receive a lead score based on their activity, and communications are customized at the contact level with automated parameters like name and company.

    Data is organized at the account level for ABM. Instead of focusing on intent indicators from individuals, your team should be ready to measure interest at the company level. You’ll begin to focus on how many contacts are known from each account and what kinds of products/services are being evaluated across contacts in one account. This data organization has many effects, notably shifting advertising efforts from targeting one person and blanketing entire business units or companies with relevant ads.


    Technology Stack

    Minimum requirements for conducting successful demand generation include an integrated CRM, marketing automation tool, and a website (hosted on a CMS, no hard-coded dinosaurs that inhibit changes). If you have all three systems but don’t have data passing between each, then it must be integrated to move forward.

    As you move upstream towards ABM, you’ll need these core components even more. Some B2Bs choose to move towards CRMs or marketing automation tools that are designed specifically for ABM, but ABM can be managed through standard systems like Hubspot, Salesforce, etc. Layering in account insight tools, like DiscoverOrg or D&B, help you get a full picture of the status of each account. These tools also help validate the data you collect, like mailing addresses. Most well-rounded ABM programs also use a combination of intent data (like Bombora) and account advertising (Terminus, DemandBase) to deliver air coverage ads to accounts with high intent.



    If you haven’t caught on yet, demand generation-focused organizations typically have sales and marketing operating in silos with regular communication cadences. There are some shared metrics, but marketing and sales each have unique metrics they track and own.

    ABM, again, requires sales and marketing to act as one unit. They are tracking the same metrics, communicating constantly, and are hyper-focused on activities within target accounts. Optimization processes are longer, often requiring more iteration to fine tune. You typically also see companies tracking ABM and demand generation at the same time with different sales funnels. All of these adjustments when adding ABM into your organization tie back into the overall goal of marketing and sales: getting the right messages across to the right people at the right time.


    Not sure where you stand in your transition?
    Reach out to one of our Demand Generation Specialists to learn how to start making the shift.


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    Topics: Demand Generation, ABM

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