5 Key Highlights From ITSMA’s 6th Annual ABM Benchmark Study

In 2023, ABM turns 20. Hey, happy birthday, ABM! 

Two decades into the ABM journey, the core principles established at the start have stood tall, in large part to the practice’s focus on the three R’s—Reputation, Relationships, and Revenue. 

The Three R’s continue to be the common thread found throughout each answer and insight within Momentum ITSMA & ABM Leadership Alliance’s 6th annual benchmark study for B2B marketers. But what, specifically, should they expect to learn and adapt to?

What to Expect From ABM in 2023

Remarkably, the same challenges B2B marketers faced in 2003 (sales and marketing alignment, customization at scale, measurement, and, of course, budgets) still impede them today. 

In Elevating ABM: Building Blocks for Long-Term Growth, marketers will learn:

  • How well marketers are applying core ABM principles
  • How marketers are adapting to constant disruption
  • Where marketers should focus investments in the next phase of ABM development
  • How ABM leaders invest differently
  • And a whole lot more

Before diving into the whole report, we wanted to give you a taste of some of the best insights and findings from this benchmark study.

ABM Continues to Be a Top B2B Priority

28% of B2B marketers polled stated that ABM was their top priority—topping the priority list for the fourth year in a row. 

Results aside, one of the biggest drivers of ABM prioritization is the support of senior leadership. According to Momentum ITSMA research, the vast majority of ABM programs are sponsored and supported by a senior business leader, making it far easier to focus on positive business outcomes from ABM initiatives.

ABM Budgets Expected to Increase

Whenever you place something at the top of your hierarchy, you’re going to devote a considerable amount of resources toward it.

In FY23, a great majority of program leaders expect to increase ABM spending, often by a significant amount. Not all of these programs will add headcount, however, as it was clear budget flexibility was prioritized.

ABM Programs Are Yielding Measurable Organizational Improvements

Most programs are seeing measurable improvements across a range of account, sales, and organizational objectives. The study shared where ABM’s business impact has been measured. 

In 2022, the five specific areas where ABM had the biggest benefit included:

  1. 90% Active Engagement with Selected Accounts
  2. 84% Pipeline Growth
  3. 77% Revenue Growth
  4. 72% ABM Deliver
  5. 66% ABM is Significantly Improving Marketing and Sales Alignment

Any channel delivering positive, double-digit metrics with figures beginning with eights and nines is extraordinary.

ABM is Being Embraced as a Foundational Growth Channel

As we’ve identified, ABM’s perception currently looks like this:

  • #1 B2B Marketing Channel
  • Increased Budget
  • Marginal Uptick in Headcount

It’s quite obvious that leadership sees ABM as a core channel for growth. This is wonderful, but still comes with its own set of growing pains.

As ABM has matured, one of its greatest challenges has been graduating from being a functional, marketing-led program (i.e., engaging key accounts or generating new demand) to an organizationally necessary. integrated, corporate-led GTM strategy. 

As Gemma Davies, Head of Global ABM & CXO Engagement ServiceNow, shares, ABM’s success has made her job much easier (and less “confrontational”).

“One of the things that I’m grateful for when we were starting off our Account-Based Marketing journey,” Davies said, “was that the business understood the need to engage our most strategic accounts to grow their partnership with ServiceNow.” 

“I didn’t have to fight for the business case. It was a board-level directive with top-down-level support with sales on board. We have heads of ABM in our key geos and dedicated resources, curating truly personalized and unique experiences and focusing on making our customers as successful as possible. 

The number one thing I always say to people on the ABM journey is to understand the business strategy and tie your ABM program to what your business is trying to achieve. If you can consistently demonstrate over a long period of time how the work that you’re doing contributes to the bigger picture, you will have less of a fight around resources and investments.”

The 7 Initiatives ABM Leaders Are Focused On in 2023

With the increased interest in ABM in the past five years or so, it’s not surprising we’re reaching a stage in the greater B2B Marketing landscape where ABM programs have become fully integrated. 

As the attention has grown, so has the checklist for creating an effective program. Here’s what ABM marketers have their sights on for 2023.

  1. Expand what we do for accounts currently in our ABM program 
  2. Adopt a blended approach using more than one type of ABM to cover more accounts/ clusters/ segments 
  3. Develop new tools and templates to facilitate reuse and best practice sharing 
  4. Add more marketing resources to cover more accounts/ clusters/ segments 
  5. Add a stronger focus on applying ABM to major defined sales opportunities or deal pursuits 
  6. Add education and training to increase ABM skills among existing marketers 
  7. Add technology to automate and create more leverage for existing programs

The ABM development agenda for 2023 is an expansive one. Program leaders are looking at a wide range of initiatives to strengthen and expand program coverage and capabilities, and to address current shortcomings. 

Learn How Make Your ABM Program Stand Out from the Pack

This is just a taste of everything that’s been packed into this terrific report.

In Elevating ABM: Building Blocks for Long-Term Growth—ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance’s fifth annual ABM benchmark study—you’ll learn about the current state of ABM and the five ways that ABM leaders stand apart to generate more substantial results.

Download your copy of Elevating ABM today.