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What does ABM mean & how to use it for B2B sales pipeline?

Wissam Tabarra

Wissam Tabarra

May 09

What does ABM mean & how to use it for B2B sales pipeline?

The sales profession is obsessed with the latest trends, strategies, and tools. You will regularly hear some ingenious rep come up with a new tactic to increase conversion rates from their outreach.

Did you hear that reps are doing cold facetime now? Well, that's sales for you. You have got to be curious and have to stand out. There's no other way to be successful.

If you are one of those reps who keep themselves up to date with the latest trends then you have probably heard of ABM. ABM stands for account-based marketing and has been around for a while, you can almost say that it is on the verge of becoming a mainstream sales/marketing strategy. 

If you haven't heard of ABM yet, here's a short primer for you: ABM is the approach to zero in on key accounts and work systematically on these accounts. ABM can be used by sales and marketing teams to increase their revenue through account-based lead generation and better customer relationships.

How does ABM work?

ABM is all about understanding your ideal target accounts and thinking of them as leads rather than just companies you want to sell into. ABM targets high-value customers who will spend more, stay longer, and refer others to your products or service.

ABM works particularly well with sales teams that want constant leads coming into their pipeline so they can close bigger deals faster.  ABM focuses on fewer accounts per sales rep, but ABM has more account meetings (and thus an opportunity to close bigger deals). ABM is also using technology to essentially do lead generation for you by filling your pipeline with leads that are interested in what you have to offer.

Account-based marketing can be used not only by inside sales teams but also outside sales teams (also known as field sales) who go after bigger deals with longer cycles.

ABM means thinking of accounts as full opportunities instead of single transactions or requests for proposals (RFPs) and working through the entire buying process with each account.

Every ABM strategy needs a technology platform at its core that enables reps to progress towards account engagement, ABM readiness, and ABM activities. ABMs are not just lead generations tools or social media channels—they provide the roadmap to better sales performance with access to account insights that help reps with their ABM strategy.

ABM is all about relationships, and it deepens them through account engagement programs/campaigns, broadens them by using ABM technology platforms to connect key accounts and then engages emerging opportunities within your sales pipeline.

ABM has evolved in how it's used because of social selling techniques that engage relevant decision-makers across multiple networks instead of only relying on the channel most commonly used for B2B lead generation (email).

Can sales reps use ABM?

Most sales reps believe that ABM is a marketing forte, and sales teams have nothing to do with it. Traditionally that has been the case in teams where demand generation programs are in place.

Marketing team analyses website visitors and other data to recommend a list of accounts that sales should go after. Then reps without much insight into the accounts start their cold outreach.

The results? A below-average conversion rate leads to low quota attainment and loss in compensation for reps.

Instead, if reps use ABM principles to find accounts and leads for their outreach they'd be a lot more successful. 

In fact, better results can be achieved if sales and marketing teams work hand-in-hand using ABM platforms to gain insights into key accounts. In addition you can present sales & marketing data with Power BI and effectively communicate between your teams.

In order for this strategy to work every team needs the same technology at its core, a platform that brings ABM intelligence down to reps level so they know which accounts/leads match their qualification criteria and allows them to set up automated outreach.

Reps can use information from their account profiles to customize outreach emails and track opportunities in real-time instead of going through a multiple-step process of gathering data on leads and handing it over to Marketing.

By working as an integrated team marketers and salespeople would see an increase in win rates as half the battle is simply finding those right accounts.

Run ABM without marketing dependency

For reps to succeed with their ABM outreach they need a technology platform that enables them to find accounts at scale, prospect abandons from hidden accounts, and continuously learn from what worked best in the past. 

Such technology platforms are simply not available on the market today, but this gap is starting to get filled by AI-prospecting tools that provide ABM-like functionalities.

With AI prospecting tools reps can find accounts of interest without being dependent on marketing for leads. They can search for best-fit accounts at scale and set up automated outreaches in real-time based on account profiles or custom outreach emails using information from within their CRMs.

Using such software enables salespeople to personalize messaging to prospects instead of sending generic emails through cold outreach campaigns, which in turn increases the chances of opening an opportunity.

AI prospecting tools can learn from what worked best in the past and constantly redefine their ICP to bring even better accounts to their pipeline.

For example, by using Facebook marketing data, AI prospecting tools can search for lead abandons from hidden accounts that aren't showing up on any marketing automation platforms. Then they put this information together with account profiles and create a list of leads and accounts ready for outreach.

Talk to accounts that are in-market for your product

ABM programs allow for in-market accounts (accounts in the market for buying products in your niche) to be found by reps using AI prospecting tools.

These tools can use information from across the web to find out when an account is in the market for buying a product or service like yours. Using these tools makes it possible to reach out to in-market accounts that fit your ICP (key qualifications).

This will increase conversion rates and quota attainment for sales reps who use them because this strategy increases pipeline opportunities without much effort. 

Not only that, but in-market accounts are in the market for buying a product in your niche. This means that they're open to sales outreach and if they reply or engage in a conversation with you it is more likely that they will convert into sales opportunities in the future.

In fact, in-market accounts are 40% more likely to convert than non-in-market accounts.

Of course, reaching out to in-market accounts isn't a new idea - reps know quite well how effective this strategy can be when done properly. The issue here is that they don't have insight into whether an account is in the market or not and they usually rely on marketing automation software for prospecting activities.

This makes in-market accounts hard to find without marketing help, but AI prospecting tools make it possible for salespeople to search in real-time and find in-market accounts that are ready to buy.

Marketers can create account profiles using client information, which helps salespeople prioritize their outreach lists by finding the most in-market accounts.

Find accounts that can be warmed up to buy your products

AI prospecting tools can find accounts that are top of funnel leads and that can be activated by reps to buy their products.

The top of the funnel means that an account is starting as a non-customer and needs awareness campaigns to become aware of your product/service. Once the account gets familiar with your offering, it's ready for reps to start doing cold outreach towards them in order to activate the accounts into buying your products or services.

AI prospecting tools uncover hidden opportunities by finding accounts that fit your ICP (key qualifications) and then put these opportunities through a learning and scoring model to determine if they're top of funnel leads (or warm enough).

Targeting top-of-the-funnel leads in your ABM campaigns has another advantage. You can warm up such leads and convert them to bottom-of-funnel leads and augment the size and quality of opportunities in your pipeline.

Reach the right decision-makers in the buying group

Salespeople can target decision-makers with ABM campaigns that achieve better prospecting results than mass marketing outreach.

If you want more decision-maker engagement, then ABM is your best bet for getting the right people to pay attention to your messages and opportunities.

But to be successful in your engagement with decision-makers you need to have a technology-enabled ABM program. The bedrock of which should be AI-based prospecting tools.

AI prospecting tools uncover decision-makers at targeted accounts using everything from org hierarchy, team structure, phone numbers, emails, social media profiles, and even public information websites. Then sales reps can prioritize their outreach lists by finding the various stakeholders in the target accounts.

Reaching decision makers does more than just help reps with quota attainment - it also allows reps to get insight into how these decision-makers make their buying decisions including what they care about, decision processes they follow, the key influencers in their decision-making process, and more.

This information can be invaluable for sales reps to tailor campaigns that target decision-makers with messaging that influences their buying decision. Additionally, this intel will help reps improve their targeting algorithms of decision-makers which will make AI prospecting tools better over time.

Want to run ABM-led prospecting? Start with Truebase

I hope you are convinced that you can run ABM-led outreach campaigns as a sales rep without much marketing intervention.

And if you are willing to start, you need to start with ABM-led sales prospecting for finding accounts to target. Truebase is one such lead generation software that uses the core principles of ABM to find you best-fit accounts that fall in your ICP.

With millions of data points analyzed in minutes, Truebase can find patterns in accounts and suggest to you the ones that are most likely in need of your products. Truebase also helps you connect with various stakeholders in the buying group of an account like decision-makers, influencers, economic buyers, and end-users.

Try out Truebase today by signing up for a 14-day free trial and get started with ABM in your sales outreach.

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