How to Select an ABM Platform
The number of ABM solutions is exploding? They are no longer limited to firms with big martech budgets. Even firms practicing ABM with smaller budgets have options. So how do you select an ABM platform that’s right for you?
In a prior post, we detailed the main functions that leading ABM platforms like Demandbase, Terminus, 6sense, Triblio, RollWorks, Triblio, Jabmo, Rollworks, and Propensity have in common. In this post, we will provide a set of criteria and questions to help you assess vendors.
Questions to Ask When You Select an ABM Platform
We developed this ABM Platform Checklist based on our own experience and by reviewing multiple other sources. We hope this will help you as you select an ABM platform that meets your unique needs.
Your Goals in Selecting an ABM Platform
An ABM Platform is a big investment. Some cost more than a marketing automation or CRM system. One of the biggest mistakes many ABM practitioners make is to leap into selecting an ABM platform when they are not precisely clear about what they want to achieve.
Write down your goals. In addition to getting executive buy-in, get the other key stakeholders on the same page with you. Alignment is critical, and the risk needs to be shared.
Here are some questions to ask before you take the first step to select an ABM platform:
- What is that you want to accomplish by selecting an ABM platform?
- What are your measures of success?
- What specific improvements are you looking to make?
- Which departments will use the system?
- Who will be the primary users?
- What gaps in your current infrastructure do you need to fill with this selection process?
Criteria #1 Account Intelligence
Account intelligence is vital for ABM, as it enables you to address best-fit accounts that will close faster with larger deal sizes. This involves leveraging buyer behavior data, including first-party and third-party intent data, to pinpoint in-market accounts before they express interest. Advanced platforms utilize AI and firmographics to gain deeper customer insights, including industry revenue and account hierarchies. Some platforms aid in discovering new accounts and expanding the addressable market through recommendation engines. The account insight should be integrated into the ABM platform, marketing automation system, and CRM to make this actionable.
Here are questions related to account intelligence to ensure you select an ABM platform that will help you get the most of this most important function. We have broken these into three relevant batches account intelligence, account prioritization, data management, and security:
- How will the system help you manage your ICP?
- News and scoops
- Social listening
- How will it help you identify best-fit customers?
- What data are supported for account intelligence?
- What data comes with the system?
- First-party intent data integration
- Second-party intent data sources?
- Third-party intent data?
- How will it help you map the buyer collective?
- Can it help you access contact information for possible champions and influencers?
- How can you create account lists?
- How can you customize to track account progress by stage?
- Can you customize lead scoring?
- What type of targeting is possible?
- Is this self-service or is support needed?
- How is data from other sources uploaded or integrated?
- How easy is this to use?
- How do they use AI?
- How is data quality managed?
- How is data compliance managed?
- How are whitelists managed?
- What is the information security policy?
- How are data breaches managed?
- How is data privacy managed?
- How are audit reports. penetration testing. vulnerability scanning, bugs managed?
Criteria #2 Orchestration and Personalization
One of the key functions of an ABM platform is to make it easier to run personalized campaigns with target accounts, orchestrating interactions across multiple channels. When you select an ABM platform shortlist, familiarize yourself with personalizing advertising and website experiences to align with the buyer’s journey. The ABM platform’s dashboard should allow you to build target audience segments and sync account and contact lists with advertising platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You must also understand how the ABM platform will help you orchestrate campaigns across multiple channels, including social networks, display ads, email, direct mail, video, events, blogs, webinars, and mobile. Some platforms may offer a demand-side advertising platform for programmatic spending optimization and brand safety.
- How are target audience segments created?
- How are campaigns created?
- How easy is it to integrate with marketing automation systems?
- How easy is it to integrate with third-party digital media channels?
- How easy is it to integrate and/or create campaigns using:
- Social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
- Direct mail
- In-person events and conferences
- How does the platform help Identify known and anonymous visitors?
- Can you personalize headlines, website banners, CTAs, and promos all on a single webpage?
- Can you create multiple web page experiences for different customer journey stages?
- Does the platform Integrate with web forms for lead enrichment?
- How does the platform help deliver the right experience at the right time?
- Support A/B Testing?
Criteria #3 Sales Conversion
For successful adoption, account intelligence should be easily accessible within the CRM system used by sales, marketing, and customer success teams. The ideal ABM platform will automatically update the CRM with relevant information to empower sales representatives and SDRs, including account hierarchies, news alerts, social alerts, and buying intent signals. This will empower sales and SDRs to provide more personalized outreach that will impress buyers with your knowledge of critical events like leadership changes or financial results. The platform should provide additional account insights such as a comprehensive view of third-party intent data and engagement insights, aggregating communication history. Do they offer customizable alerts and web plug-ins that enhance prospecting? How will the platform enable customer success managers to respond quickly to account changes, identify growth opportunities, and stay ahead of competitive issues?
Automation and CRM Integration Questions
- How easily can the platform be integrated with CRM?
- How does the platform automate moving accounts into specific campaigns?
- How is lead status changed?
- How does it automate tasks and status changes in CRM?
- How is intent data, ABM related data displayed in CRM?
- Can you create a single account view of ABM-related activity in CRM?
- How does this integrate with customer success platforms?
Criteria #4 Measurement
When you select an ABM Platform, you need to be 100% confident that it can help you measure your ABM program is effectiveness. Basic capabilities should include tracking account visits to different website pages, along with their identification and demographics. This information should ideally integrate with other platforms in use. The platform should help analyze demand generation, the quality of traffic, and the sources of target accounts. It should also provide insight into accounts, personas, and buying group behavior at detailed and aggregate levels. How engagement is displayed is a key issue. Does it allow the tracking of buyer journey progression, conversion rates, and velocity metrics so that you can identify bottlenecks? With advertising campaigns, you will need visibility into impression placement and the effectiveness of ads. Overall, the platform should enable the visualization of marketing and sales alignment success in progressing deals through the pipeline.
Here are some key questions:
- How are campaign metrics measured?
- What ABM and Marketing metrics can be measured?
- How are sales metrics measured? E.g., track volume, velocity, and conversion metrics for each journey stage?
- How can you measure ABX’s impact for insights across the buyer journey?
- How are reports created?
- What gaps in your current infrastructure do you need to fill with this selection process?
- How can you compare the performance of different audiences or account lists and evaluate the impact of specific programs.?
- How can you see the engagement and activities that influenced the different stages of a deal cycle?
- What other measurement features are available?
Criteria #5 Account Management and Value
These are complex platforms with tons of features. When you select an ABM Platform, you are also selecting a critical partner in helping you succeed with ABM. You want to ensure they can provide training, even certification, for you and your staff. How will they provide ongoing advice? What do you do when you need help? And last but not least, how will they help you ensure you get total value and a positive ROI from this investment and your ABM program overall?
Here are relevant questions:
Onboarding, Training and Support
- What is the onboarding process?
- How long does it take?
- What do I need for onboarding?
- Is there a fee for this?
- How will the vendor help with data clean-up?
- How much training is required?
- What ongoing training is provided?
- What training resources are available?
- Is there certification?
- Is support self-serve help center? Or people I can talk to?
- Is there a phone number that’s answered 24/7?
- Ongoing “how are we doing” support?
Fees and ROI
- Is the price locked? Can it increase without my approval?
- How will the investment is paying off?
- How does the system help measure ROI?
- How is buyer’s remorse handled? Can you cancel any time?
We have created a buyer checklist based on these questions. Let me know if you would like me to send it to you.
If you are interested and when you are ready, we can help you on your ABM journey. Here are some ways to get started:
- Check out more posts like this in the Healthtech Marketing Learning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey.
- Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
- Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.