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:

Account Intelligence

  • How will the system help you manage your ICP?
    • Firmographics
    • 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?

Account Prioritization

  • 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?

Data Management

  • How is data quality managed?
  • How is data compliance managed?
    • GDPR
    • CCPA
  • 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)
    • Email
    • Direct mail
    • Video
    • In-person events and conferences
    • Blogs
    • Webinars
    • Mobile 


  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
  3. 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.

All About Social Selling – Anita Windisman, Bluesquare Collective

In this episode of the Healthtech Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Anita Windisman, a LinkedIn and social selling guru.

Anita is a confounder of Blue Square Collective. She is a very highly regarded expert in social selling.

At Blue Square, she helps companies master digital and social selling. Before founding, Blue Square was a Customer Sucess leader with LinkedIn in Europe. In this episode, Anita covers the following:

  • What is social selling?
  • How companies can excel at and scale social selling
  • How to structure a social and digital selling program
  • The steps to social selling excellence
  • What makes someone a superstar social seller
  • What are the biggest mistakes made in social selling


10 Hard-earned Social Selling Tips

Social selling is using social channels to build strong relationships with prospective and current customers. I have been on LinkedIn since 2004 and have used social media to raise my profile through blogs and other social media activities for almost two decades. Social selling has been instrumental to the success of healthlaunchpad. 

Social selling can be incredibly effective, but it’s very hard to do well. I am still trying to master it. Here are ten things I have learned that will put you on the road to becoming a social-selling Jedi.

1. Get a Social Selling Coach 

The first thing I did when I started healthlaunchpad, was to engage a social selling coach. While I was an experienced LinkedIn user, I wasn’t sure how to use it for social selling. I took a basic course via Udemy, but it wasn’t much help. I came across Adam Franklin, or more to the point, Adam Franklin got to me through his social selling technique. I engaged him as a coach to teach me how to use LinkedIn and other channels to sell and market as a solopreneur. This was transformational. It got me moving, and I have used many techniques he taught me for 3+ years. As we have grown, we have scaled his techniques. Experts like Adam Franklin, Tim Hughes, who wrote the excellent Social Selling book, and Anita Windisman, a former LinkedIn customer success turned Social Selling coach, are worth their weight in gold.

2. Be Persistent and Patient 

Social Selling is a bit like SEO. It takes a long time to pay off, but if you stick at it, I can guarantee the results will blow you away. When we speak with prospects, we ask how they found us. One of the most frequent comments: “I have been following you on LinkedIn for a while, and now was the right time for me to reach out.” They may have come across us through a webinar, our podcast, or through reading a blog that they came across via our SEO strategy, but LinkedIn is the primary channel to build authority. And it positions our firm as a possible choice when a marketer is looking for advice.

3. It’s All About Trust

According to Salesforce’s State of Sales 5th Edition, 87% of B2B Buyers say they want their salespeople to act as trusted advisors. And the gap between companies who enable this and those who don’t is striking. 90% of high-performing companies empower their salespeople to be trusted advisors ~50% more than low-performing organizations. And social selling is the best way to build trust with people you don’t have a relationship with. The educational content we share via LinkedIn, our podcasts, and webinars position us as trusted sources. I am careful not to undermine that trust with sleazy techniques like automation tools on LinkedIn.

4. It’s More Than LinkedIn

LinkedIn and Sales Navigator are resources from heaven for B2B sales and marketing people, but there is more to Social Selling than LinkedIn. Your website and blog are foundational, as these should be your primary repositories for your content. We have a deliberate SEO strategy that has grown our traffic 8X in three years, and inbound visits to educational blogs drive 70% of that. In addition, we have a podcast and a Youtube channel that provide additional ways to engage prospects. We have not been big Twitter users, but it’s an important channel for extending your reach, especially to influencers. 

5. Your LinkedIn Profile is Critical

The most important thing that my LinkedIn coach showed me was how to create a compelling LinkedIn profile. It should immediately signal, who you are, who you serve, how you can help them, and why they should trust you. Most people’s LinkedIn profile says who they are, what their title is, and who they work for. Your profile is why people will connect with you or reject your connection request. This resource from Adam Franklin is flippin’ gold. If you only do one thing this month, do what Adam F recommends.

6. Build Your Network Every Day

After 15 years on LinkedIn, I had ~3,000 connections. Three years later, I now have close to 9,000 connections. And more importantly, these additional 6,000 connections are primarily in our target market. This mainly happened through consistently sending out twenty invitations daily to a list of sales and marketing executives in healthtech. This is the most you can do. By building this many connections and followers, I know that when I post something to LinkedIn, there is a good chance it will be viewed by many of the prospects I am trying to reach, free of charge. 

7. Post Often as Frequency Matters

On LinkedIn, I post twice a day. I know this seems excessive, but if you have gone to the trouble of connecting with thousands of prospects, you are missing out by not sharing something with them that will build trust. And building trust takes time. And most people won’t see most of your posts, so you have to post frequently to reach your audience at least once per month. 

In addition, we publish a new longish blog post on our website and via the LinkedIn newsletter once per week. And we try to create two podcasts and videos per month. To be honest, we should be doing even more.

8. Keep it Native to LinkedIn

LinkedIn wants people to stay on LinkedIn, so sharing links to articles outside of LinkedIn is likely to get you downranked. That means that fewer people see your post. Don’t just post a link to company news or an article you saw on another website; write something original, share an image or a video that you upload, tag another user as a shout-out and use hashtags to increase searchability on LinkedIn. Yeah, I know that’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot easier than cold calling. 

9. Mix it Up

LinkedIn has so many different features and ways to share content. I especially love document sharing, which I use to create carousel-like slideshows. These are great ways to tell a story. Whenever we do a webinar, we also create an Event on LinkedIn. This doubles event registration. If you aren’t using LinkedIn newsletters, you are missing out. I have not tried LinnkedIn Live, but some social selling gurus I follow have been using it successfully.

10. Track Your Progress

As the old cliche goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  This applies to social selling. The first thing to do is check out your Social Selling Index. I track several KPIs monthly, including connections, followers, engagements, newsletter subscribers, podcast listeners, Youtube views, and several site traffic KPIs. Is this vanity? Maybe. But by tracking these, I can tell if I am making progress in building the audience I am social selling to. I also drill down on which content types and tactics work best. 


To be honest, the one thing I don’t do that much is prospecting via LinkedIn. I used to run a prospecting sequence, but it felt unauthentic, and I was concerned that I was turning people off. I am prospected hundreds of times monthly via LinkedIn and rarely respond. It’s a real shame that many firms have abused the medium in the last couple of years. It’s ruining it for everyone.

By the way, we offer a social selling program. Please let me know if you would like to learn more.

If you are interested and when you are ready, we can help you on your with your marketing. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and health-tech marketing.
  3. 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.

What To Look For in a B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency

Or How I Started a Spite Agency

In Season 10 of one of my favorite shows, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David is so effronted by the experience at Mocha Joe’s coffee store that he opens a spite store next door called Latte Larry’s. Starting a spite business has much to do with how I turned healthlaunchpad into a B2B Healthcare Marketing agency.

When I started healthlaunchpad, my focus was helping companies enter the healthcare market and providing strategic marketing advice. This included acting as a fractional Chief Marketing Officer. 

I was engaged by Bluestream Health, a virtual care firm, as their fractional CMO. We initiated an agency search and expected to hire a B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency. Instead, we hired a highly regarded generalist inbound agency, which shall remain nameless in this story.

The sales process was breathtaking. They blew everyone else away. The one red flag was that they seemed to struggle to find healthcare references for us to speak with. We kicked off a six-month engagement with them with eager expectations.

Within 30 days, there were big warning signs. Their onboarding process was formulaic, and while the team we were working with was well-intentioned, they were very inexperienced. It felt like they were implementing a generic Hubspot inbound playbook with minimal experience and little supervision.

We complained several times and had a few interactions with more senior managers, but nothing changed. We got a strong sense that the agency’s leadership didn’t care.

After eight weeks, there was little to show except an inferior strategy. 

I was so incensed by the experience that I turned to the CEO and Chief Growth Officer and proposed that I build a team to take over what the agency was supposed to be doing and deliver more and better work for a lower fee.

They agreed, and we fired the agency. The agency seemed relieved they wouldn’t have to deal with my daily tirades.

And that is how healthlaunchpad morphed into a B2B Healthcare Agency.

Two and a bit years on, we just signed our 27th client, and we have a core multidisciplinary team of 10 healthcare technology marketing superstars I am privileged to work with.

So What Do Clients Look for in a B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency?

My experience before starting my own  B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency has shaped the firm we are building:

  • For a couple of decades, I worked in several global agencies and digital consulting firms in a leadership role overseeing very large accounts, including a $40 million relationship with a leading financial services firm.
  • For a few years, I was a partner in a firm that specializes in assessing agency performance and helping agencies get actionable feedback on their key client relationships. I got a client’s eye view of hundreds of agencies.
  • I then founded and ran a B2B Healthcare company, so I learned firsthand what it meant to be a client for seven years.

In my view, several aspects make a successful B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency, and from what I gather in my conversations with health tech marketers, we have become one of a small handful of firms that can meet the mark.

From my prior experience and what I hear from B2B healthcare marketers, the criteria for what makes a good full-service B2B Healthcare Marketing agency fall into two categories: Price of Admission criteria that if you can’t meet, you should not be in the game; and Differentiators that are competencies that set an agency apart.

Price of Admission Criteria for a B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency

These are the basic criteria that any B2B Healthcare Marketing firm should expect to deliver. 

  1. Healthcare Expertise: Crazy, right? A B2B Healthcare Marketing agency should have healthcare experience. At a minimum, you should not have to teach your agency about healthcare. The key staff on your account need to understand how the healthcare market works and have prior relevant experience. The best B2B Healthcare Marketing agencies lead their clients’ thinking. We do this by having consultants who were in client-side roles at healthcare organizations and can advise a client on improvements in their business.
  2. Quality of Service: Clients want dependability to count on their agency, and quality of service is the foundation. How well does the agency provide client service? Being responsive is the basic expectation. The better agencies are viewed as proactive too. Poor quality of service is a fast way to get fired as an agency.
  3. Quality of Work: Whether it’s creative work, content, media planning, or buying, is the quality of the work better than clients can do themselves? And is it consistently good?
  4. Creative Thinking: Does the agency develop marketing ideas based on customer insight that surprise you? Are they proud of their work? Do you look at it and think, I wish we were doing that creative work?
  5. Strategic Contribution: Clients expect their agency to help them advance their marketing strategy. The best agencies lead the client’s thinking or help them change their strategy faster and more effectively. It always surprised me when we assessed agency performance how few agencies did this well. It was frequently the root cause of disappointment with an agency.
  6. Focus on Results: Does your agency seem as vested in your success as you are?  Do they act with a sense of accountability? This does not necessarily mean being compensated on performance but is the agency as focused on outcomes as you are?

Differentiators: What Sets a Good B2B Healthcare Agency Apart

In addition to meeting the basic criteria, we believe several criteria make the difference between a good agency and an excellent B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency.

  1. ABM Expertise: In our view, it’s not a question of if B2B Healthcare marketing will become ABM but when. ABM is a more efficient way to market when deals are complex, have long sales cycles, and have large deal sizes. Very few firms have mastered ABM, but your firm should understand it and help you move towards an ABM model fast. 
  2. Flexible Model: One of the biggest shifts in marketing over the last two decades has been the growth of in-house marketing capabilities. Agencies used to depend on long-term relationships where they would be paid to provide services now done in-house. If you are evaluating a new agency, ask them how they will adapt as you move services in-house over time. This is built into how we work with clients. We assume they will, and we design client agreements to provide our clients with the flexibility they need to adapt. 
  3. The Breadth of Services: The number of skills needed to be a successful marketer has exploded in the last two decades. The foundational skills of a B2B Healthcare marketing agency include content marketing, SEO, digital marketing, social media and email marketing, paid search, and social web design. It is unlikely that any B2B Healthcare marketing agency can meet every need beyond that, but can they help you find and manage qualified resources? For example, we are not a PR firm but have a longstanding relationship with a highly experienced B2B Healthcare PR specialist who we subcontract as needed.
  4. Low Overhead: Having worked in a big multinational agency, I have seen the layers of management and operational overheads that go with that. This goes with expensive real estate and very high-priced talent. Fortune 500 companies who need what these agencies provide will pay for the overhead that comes with it, but most B2B Healthcare clients have little tolerance for this. Ask your agency how they keep overheads low so that fees are put to work, not spent on agency operations and management.

We hope this provides you with helpful criteria in selecting an agency. If you feel we have missed anything, let me know.

Can We Help You?

If you are interested and when you are ready, we can help you on your with your marketing. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and health-tech marketing.
  3. 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.

How ABM Can Boost Your SDRs

SDRs are critical to the success of your ABM program. Conversely, a well-executed ABM strategy can turbo-charge your SDRs’ productivity.

In these three short videos, my great friend Ben Person, a martech entrepreneur and the former CMO of Nuvolo, explains why ABM, and SDRs are Important to each other and how ABM can change the way SDRs work.

Ben should know. In 2020, he led Nuvolo’s marketing transformation from a more traditional B2B Marketing model to a fully scaled up ABM model. This included implementing Terminus, hiring an ABM specialist and iteratively refining their approach to a highly effective model closely tied to revenue.

One of the big changes Ben made that seemed controversial at the time was for the SDR team to report to marketing. While this may seem counterintuitive, as in most organizations, SDRs report to sales, and this change was critical to the success of their ABM model. It also helped the ABMs perform better.

1. Why SDRs are Critical to the Success of ABM

2. How ABM Changes the Way SDRs Work

3. What Impact Does ABM on SDRs

In a recent case study, we reviewed the ABM Journey of one of our clients. This included turning on intent data with the SDRs. This transformed the way they work.

In the first week of the pilot, an SDR saw that one of the company’s largest customers was showing high intent for RPM. The SDR reached out to the account executive who managed this account, and they reached out to the person in charge. This telehealth executive told them they were about to initiate a search for a new solution and would be included in this.

This early win galvanized the SDR team. Since then, the SDR team started their day by looking at this intent dashboard.

Like PB&J

In another post, we dove deep into this topic and why SDRs and ABM are like PB&J Sandwiches.

SDRs have much more control over the process. It feels like a more deliberate 5-step approach.

  1. Start by building targeted brand awareness.
  2. Get the best-fit accounts engaged through digital channels
  3. Use intent data to determine who is in-market
  4. Score them based on engagement with your content
  5. When they show enough intent, have your SDRs pursue them using the intent data gathered throughout the process.

Can We Help 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
  3. 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.

A Healthcare Account-based Marketing Journey (Case Study)

As a firm, we focus primarily on healthcare account-based marketing. We believe passionately that health tech and healthcare services firms should adopt ABM. In this case study, we hope to show you why and how to do that.

The company in this healthcare account-based marketing case study is a large technology and services firm that sells exclusively to healthcare organizations. They sell various services and solutions and have relationships with hundreds of healthcare organizations.  Given the strategic importance of ABM to this company and that they are still in the early part of their ABM journey, we have kept the company’s name anonymous and changed some details about the nature of their business.

Why We Are So Passionate About Healthcare Account-based Marketing

There is little difference in how you execute healthcare account-based marketing and account-based marketing in any other industry. The key difference is that selling to healthcare organizations is even tougher.  In our view, ABM is even more important in selling to healthcare.

Sales cycles are typically longer than in any other industry, buyer collectives are bigger with more diverse roles involved, the problems are highly complex, and decisions are often harder to make for buyers. On the positive side, the market is highly addressable as there are good sources of account and individual data. 

Moreover, the adoption of ABM at scale is low in healthcare, so mastering this strategy can be a competitive advantage. It’s hard to imagine a market where ABM could make a greater impact.

Think Crawl Walk Run

Over the last few years, this company has hired new executives in sales and marketing who are modernizing their growth strategy. Many had prior experience with the successful use of ABM at other companies.

These executives have a vision of how ABM could transform their firm. This included adopting a leading ABM platform. Before being able to implement this platform, there were significant CRM and data issues that would need to be resolved. This delayed the implementation of their selected platform. They used the intervening time to pilot ABM without this tool and hired healthlaunchpad to help with this.

We use an approach called  ABM Acceleration with a process called Think Crawl Walk Run, as depicted below.

abm acceleration

We were engaged in helping this company’s RPM business unit pilot ABM. This started with developing an ABM Playbook for a 120-day pilot. The goal of this pilot was to cross-sell RPM to the company’s current customers. For the purposes of the pilot, a target account list of 600 current customers was created.

Think – ABM Pilot Playbook 

We collaborated with the RPM unit’s sales, SDR, and marketing team to design a healthcare account-based marketing pilot using our ABM Playbook methodology. This involved:

  • Setting specific, measurable, attainable, and timebound goals
  • Determining a tightly defined target account list
  • Developing detailed personas and mapping out their buyer journeys
  • Creating a content strategy using existing and a few content pieces
  • Assessing third-party intent data
  • Designing a paid media campaign via LinkedIn
  • Building a simple measurement dashboard

The output was a 50-page blueprint for the pilot, including a detailed plan.

Crawl – The Pilot

The first thing was to switch on third-party intent data. The company had a Zoominfo ABM subscription, and we identified the relevant intent topics we could use for the pilot.

The first step in the pilot was to make these intent topics available to the SDRs. Their RevOps team integrated the Zoominfo data into their Salesforce instance and created an ABM dashboard for the SDRs. This dashboard showed which accounts appeared to be in-market for RPM.

Early Win!

In the first week of the pilot, an SDR saw that one of the company’s largest customers was showing high intent for RPM. The SDR reached out to the account executive who managed this account, and they reached out to the person in charge. This telehealth executive told them they were about to initiate a search for a new solution and would be included in this.

This early win galvanized the SDR team. Since then, the SDR team started their day by looking at this intent dashboard.

Linkedin Marketing Test

We then launched paid marketing test with LinkedIn ads. We ran ads across the 600 target accounts to titles that matched our personas. The ads were designed to address issues determined during the buyer journey analysis. These ads performed 150% higher than LinkedIn engagement benchmarks. 

In the initial weeks of the campaign, we presented a weekly dashboard showing which accounts were engaging with the ads. This was shared with the SDR team each week so that they could focus their outreach effort on these accounts.

In the second half of the campaign, we used the intent data to narrow the target account list to accounts that appeared to be in-market. This boosted ad performance by an additional 50%.

This A/B test showed two things:

  • Taking an ABM approach, even without intent data, increased the effectiveness of their marketing
  • Using intent data boosted this performance

Pilot Results

After 120 days of  the campaign, the results were very encouraging:

  • The SDRs booked 31 meetings and generated 17 qualified opportunities thanks largely to the use of intent data
  • The Ads further helped identify 27 in-market accounts, including a deal that closed later

Over the following six months:

  • The SDRs identified 300+ leads through intent data
  • The sales teams closed $2.7 million that was attributable to the 120-day pilot

One of the “softer’ benefits of this approach is that it fostered collaboration between marketing, inside sales, sales, and account management.

Walk – Expansion

In year 2, they are taking the next step in their healthcare account-based marketing journey by creating a long-term ABM program for the division. This included:

  • A market expansion strategy with well-defined target segments, Ideal Customer Profiles, target account lists for each, and a sequence of how they will expand their footprint.
  • Creating more detailed buyer journeys based on customer interviews and refreshed messaging that addresses the ICP’s needs
  • A long-term content plan and a year-long media strategy including multiple tests of different channels
  • An improved marketing dashboard

In addition, the company engaged healthlaunchpad to use ABM principles to assist with account retention and growth. We conducted in-depth interviews with customers to determine what improvements were needed. We surfaced that they wanted more insights and ideas. This account insight underpins the development of a new thought leadership content program that will be supported by a personalized marketing and messaging strategy to solidify and grow these relationships.

Run – Future Plans

Long-term, this company plans to implement an already selected ABM platform to scale its healthcare account-based marketing model across the whole organization.

Like many companies, this firm embraces ABM with a deliberate, long-term strategy by starting small and taking incremental steps, learning as they go. By doing this company is changing the way they market to a higher performing and more efficient model without creating massive disruption.

Can We Help 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
  3. 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.

The Door Metaphor for Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest challenges in developing your account-based marketing strategy is how to explain it to your executives and colleagues, especially the importance of alignment and collaboration between sales and marketing. It’s understandable. Account-based marketing is complicated, and it takes a long-term commitment to do it at scale. Above all, it requires breaking down the silos between sales, marketing, and SDRs.

I use a metaphor about a door to explain it.

So What is this Account-Based Marketing Strategy Door Metaphor?

People get sick of jargon, and ABM is a jargon-heavy topic. ABM is a festival of Three-letter Acronyms or TLAs

The way I think about an account-based marketing strategy is that it is all about getting the right people to show up at your door, getting them through the door, sitting them down, and closing the sale.

Imagine looking out and seeing 10,000 people outside your door. Your goal is to get 10 of these 10,000 to become customers. The role of marketing is to bring the right people to the door. The SDRs objective is to get the best prospects through the door and to get them seated. The role of sales is to convince 10 of them to buy.

Demand Generation and Demand Capture – A Foundation of Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy

One of the changes in B2B and account-based marketing strategy is embracing the notion of Demand Generation and Demand Capture. This is different and better than straight lead generation. Here is how ChatGPT explains the difference between demand generation, demand capture, and lead generation. 

Demand generation, demand capture, and lead generation are all terms related to marketing and sales. Here’s a brief explanation of each:

  1. Demand generation: Demand generation is the process of creating awareness and interest in a product or service among a target audience. This can involve various tactics, such as content marketing, social media, email marketing, events, and advertising. The goal of demand generation is to create a need or desire for a product or service so that potential customers become interested and engaged.
  2. Demand capture: Demand capture refers to the process of capturing existing demand for a product or service. This often involves tactics such as search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), and retargeting ads. The goal of demand capture is to capture the attention of people who are already searching for a product or service like yours, and guide them to your website or landing page.
  3. Lead generation: Lead generation is the process of identifying potential customers (i.e., leads) and collecting their contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers. This can involve various tactics, such as content marketing, webinars, gated content, and social media. The goal of lead generation is to build a list of potential customers who have expressed interest in your product or service, so that you can follow up with them and eventually convert them into paying customers.

In summary, demand generation focuses on creating awareness and interest in a product or service, demand capture focuses on capturing existing demand, and lead generation focus on identifying and collecting contact information for potential customers.

Demand Generation – Getting the Right People to The Door

A simple way to think about demand generation is that it is about bringing the right people to your door. First, you need to be clear about who the right customers are for you. This is a decision on precisely what a best-fit customer looks like. It’s also a decision about who you are NOT going to attract. Ideally, you can use intent data to determine who is in-market.

Possibly, out of the 10,000 people outside your door, only 1000 meet your criteria of a best-fit customer, and only 200 of these are showing any intent to buy something new. Your job is to pinpoint these 200 prospects and bring them to your door.

Demand generation means you will use different ways to attract only these 200 accounts. For example, running ads on LinkedIn targeting a narrow set of titles at only these 200 accounts, using messaging and content tailored to their specific issues.

While it may seem obvious, remember that traditional broad-reach B2B marketing would mean advertising to all 10,000 people (accounts) with more general messaging.

If you succeed, the 200 in-market accounts will appear outside your door.

By the way, this is primarily the domain of the marketing department. The key thing is that marketing and SDRs are in lock step.

Demand Capture – Getting them through the Door

In simple terms, demand capture is about getting these 200 accounts to cross the threshold and get them seated to meet with sales.

The main change that happens with ABM is close coordination between marketing and SDRs. When we help clients implement, their account-based strategy is to schedule regular meetings between the SDR team and marketing specifically to look at which opportunities are showing intent, i.e., which of the 10,000 prospects outside the door are responding to the demand generation tactics. This is where intent data can be incredibly useful. It allows you to see who is appears to be in-market.

This joint analysis of which accounts show intent can fundamentally change how the SDRs work. For example, we helped a client start using intent data. Within a week of integrating third-party intent data into their CRM, the SDRs switched their daily routine from calling a cold list of prospects to focusing on accounts that were showing intent. The results were phenomenal. Within a week, they identified an opportunity with a large healthcare system. Within 90 days, they booked 31 meetings and generated 17 qualified opportunities, resulting in $2.7 million in deals.

This is where lead generation comes in. 

Traditional B2B marketing typically uses more broad-reach tactics. For example, using webinars to get hundreds of prospects to register. This still has its place in an account-based marketing strategy.

The main difference between lead generation in an ABM scenario is that you focus on generating leads with in-market prospects. As you react to signals that the prospects are in-market, you can use more precise tactics, even more personalized outreach, and lead generation tactics to get these 200 to cross the threshold.

Converting and Growing – Closing the Sale and Keeping Them in the House

So now you have delivered some of the 200 prospects across the threshold. This is where the SDRs qualify them and then introduce them to a sales executive. 

How can ABM help close deals?

Your ABM program should include tactics to help accelerate the sales cycle and increase the likelihood of conversion. This might include creating personalized web pages for prospects with curated content and a personal video message from your CEO.

The other key thing to consider in your account-based marketing strategy is how you measure performance. As we detailed in this post, one of the key changes is a focus on revenue performance, such as deal size and sales acceleration. 

Lastly, ABM doesn’t stop at a closed deal. ABM is just as much about how you grow accounts as it is about winning new ones. Gaining account insight about your current customers will underpin your account-based marketing strategy.

Implementing an account-based marketing strategy at scale can take several years. Many companies focus their initial efforts on getting new accounts. Over time, maybe as later as year 3 in the ABM journey, companies that are active ABM practitioners change their focus to growing accounts. In our podcast, with Kelly McDermott, from Caregility, she explains this journey in great detail.

Total Customer Growth

We hope this post helps provide a simple metaphor for ABM. As a firm, we think holistically about the whole ABM process. Our approach is based on the long-term customer journey from prospect to becoming a customer, expanding their relationship with you, and becoming influencers on your future prospects. We call this Total Customer Growth.

positive influencers

Watch this space on this topic. There is a lot more to come here.


Photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash

10 Last-Minute + 1 Bonus Pre-HIMSS Marketing Tips

A guest post on pre-HIMSS marketing tips by Judy Volker.

Ah, the last week’s push to HIMSS… the time when event marketers feel the adrenaline rush (and maybe even have some sleepless nights) that comes with knowing the efforts put toward planning are about to come to fruition. The curtain is coming up on the stage, and you’re turning the script over to the team responsible for staffing the show.

Whether your company’s presence is a booth in a sea of 10’ x 10’s, an anchor exhibitor, or something in between, here are 10 last-minute pre-HIMSS marketing steps to leverage your all-important HIMSS investment.

#1 Hold a final ‘rehearsal,’ a staff huddle, to ensure everyone is on the same page relative to the 10-second elevator pitch of what your company does and why it matters to the guest. Why should your guests care? You’ll note that we call visitors to our space guests – because we’re here for them and that’s how to make an experience memorable.

While you want your booth message to be consistent, you also want to be sure the staffing team is comfortable personalizing the booth message based on personalized ABM targeting and engagement strategies.

#2 Ensure everyone clearly understands and buys into what criteria constitute a contact, a qualified lead, or an opportunity. And no, as much as we might wish it so, a scanned badge from someone who walked by and grabbed a pen is a contact, not a lead.

#3 Have you designated someone responsible each evening for documenting and prioritizing staff conversations? If there has been a request for information or assets, there’s nothing like ensuring it gets into the requestor’s in-basket the same night!

#4 Begin daily social posts on your company page. Utilize staff to repost on their pages with the goal of a minimum of two social posts per team member leading into the show.

#5 Set up your upcoming on-site social cadence – stay in the spotlight during the event. Engage in on-site social conversations, post candid shots, share booth highlights, and perhaps most importantly, share knowledge!

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to communicate or reinforce with your team your event marketing follow-up plan. Everyone must understand that their staffing duties continue after the exhibit closes. Follow-up is equally essential to the success of your event as pre-show and at-show responsibilities.

It seems intuitive that follow-up is important, but consider that energy gets zapped after four or more days of event activities, and everyone is moving on to the next priority. This includes not just your staff but your audience as well. ‘Read the room’ when it comes to event follow-up. Too much too soon can be as much of a turn-off as too little too late.

Does everyone on your team understand their role in follow-up? Sales, marketing, product owners, etc. What constitutes low, medium, and high-priority follow-up? How does the call to action differ depending on ABM targets?

#6 Study the attendee list (if you have it) and use it as a last push to personalize your ABM reach outs to book an on-site meeting. If you don’t have an attendee list, use your database to reach out with a ‘whether or not you’re attending HIMSS’ message. It’s not too late to task your sales team with reaching out to the top 10 accounts they’d like to meet with at the show.

#7 Hire a car/van service and offer your most valued clients transportation service to/from the event. You can also use it to transport your staffing team. A disadvantage of HIMSS in Chicago is the shortage of hotels within walking distance of McCormick. Bus rides can take close to an hour or more pending traffic. Better yet, have a magnetic car sign with your company name/logo made up to put on the side of the car/van. You now have an inexpensive rolling billboard.

#8 Start a ‘countdown to HIMSS’ on your HIMSS microsite or landing page. If you don’t currently have a microsite or landing page, setting one up isn’t too late. Directing attendees to your event-specific page is an excellent call to action.

#9 Review the HIMSS Sponsorship opportunities for still open and easily/quickly executable sponsorships. Contact your HIMSS salesperson – depending on the sponsorship, there may be an opportunity for rate negotiation. (Hint: Don’t sponsor ‘consumable’ events where no one cares or remembers who sponsored, e.g., receptions and meals. The exception is if it’s an event a high percentage of your target audience might attend, and you can leverage the event as a relationship-building activity.)

#10 Use the opportunity to reach out and schedule conversations with people not attending the show. Play off on the ‘Staycation’ theme. Offer the same giveaway or drawing opportunity you may have planned for HIMSS to those who book a high-value meeting with you. This leads to your bonus tip in keeping with targeting those not going to HIMSS.

Your Bonus Tip…in parallel with all your in-person engagements, offer a similar experience for those who are not attending the show. Provide the benefits of HIMSS without the hassle of going there. Chicago is known for its iconic food products, so depending on the opportunity and your budget, you might consider offering a ‘taste of Chicago’ through  Lou Malnati’s famous Chicago-style pizza, Wildfire steaks or desserts,  Garrett Popcorn, or other well-known Chicago experiences where the products are available for shipping. This could be part of a drawing/raffle; anyone who books and attends a meeting during the HIMSS timeframe would be entered to win.  This expands your engagement scope beyond the on-site HIMSS attendee and gives you the opportunity to nurture the HIMSS message well beyond the event.

Whether your team is two or two hundred, you and your team have invested time, effort, and financial resources into this event. Take this last week to make that final push of preparation so that when the curtain comes up and the lights come on at HIMSS, you know you’ve set the stage for a great experience!


US Healthcare Payer Market Segmentation

Since starting the healthlaunchpad blog, the most viewed post by far has been my explanation of The US Healthcare Provider Market Segmentation and healthcare payer market size. So much so, in fact, that it’s become the top-ranked page in Google when you search for “healthcare market segmentation.” Since so many people have found this type of industry overview helpful, I’ve decided to expand beyond the provider market and take a deeper dive into another critical piece of the US healthcare landscape: Payer market segmentation.

Like any segment of the healthcare industry, the payer market is complex and multifaceted. In this post, I’ll share a high-level overview of the payer market, then drill down on payer market segmentation to help you understand how the segment, as a whole, functions.

I hope that after reading this, you will have a basic orientation to the US healthcare payer market.

US Healthcare Payer Market Segmentation – Payer Market Overview

The healthcare payer market plays a critical role in the overall healthcare system. It’s made up of both private and public institutions that provide healthcare coverage and pay for healthcare services on behalf of their members.

While providers offer healthcare services to patients, payers are the organizations responsible for setting service rates, collecting payments, processing claims, and paying providers. This means the payer market provides payment for some or all patient’s procedures, supplies, and medications. 

The size of the US healthcare payer services market was $61.9 billion in 2022. Between 2022 and 2030, this market is estimated to grow at a rate of 7.7% annually. As you’ll see below, the US healthcare payer market segmentation includes private insurance companies, government-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and self-funded employer-sponsored health plans.

US Healthcare Payer Market Segmentation – Payer Markets

Here’s a quick look at payer market segmentation based on the geographic areas they serve.

  • National Health Plans: Large national health plans represent the largest payer firms in the country. Although there are more than 350 health plans in the United States, the top 10 national plans represent 65% of the total market. These large national firms include UnitedHealthcare, CVS Health (formerly Aetna), Centene, Elevance (formerly Anthem), and Humana.
  • State and Local Plans: Of the 350 health plans in the US, 44 are state-regulated health plans. The most notable state plans are “blues” plans – which carry the Blue Cross Blue Shield branding and offer access to the national blue network. Almost all of these plans are non-profit organizations – meaning they don’t have a responsibility to pay shareholders. State health plans are regulated by the insurance committee of each state where they are sold.
  • Large Regional Plans: These types of health plans often serve a large region of the US, but do not offer the same type of broad, nationwide coverage as a national health plan. As a result, they offer smaller provider networks that are limited to a specific geographic area. Regional health plans primarily focus on serving large employers in the area, as well as Medicare recipients.
  • Provider-Sponsored Plans: About 150 of the health plans in the US are provider-sponsored plans. These insurance plans are connected to a specific hospital or health system, which functions as the plan’s primary network. Since plans are owned by a specific health system, they typically focus on serving large employers in the area or large Medicare populations.
  • State Medicaid Plans: Many states also offer their own Medicaid services for low-income families. These health plans serve large populations but also require third-party companies to go through an RFP process – since any work is considered a government contract.
  • Third-Party Associations: Additional types of payers, commonly referred to as third-party associations, serve a specific subset of the healthcare payer market. They include plans that offer supplemental dental, vision, or pharmacy services for health insurance companies. While many of these companies are small in comparison to other types of payers, they’re also nimble and have access to large coverage areas. Third-party associations are also the most likely to outsource needed services.

US Healthcare Payer Market Segmentation – Lines of Business

Below is a brief overview of the payer market, based on the lines of business they sell.

  • Commercial Insurance Plans: Commercial plans are offered by private insurance companies to provide healthcare coverage for employers. In this market, employers choose the benefits package that is offered to their employees. Payers compete with one another based on factors such as premiums, benefit design, and provider networks.
  • Individual and Family Insurance Plans: These types of health insurance plans are similar to commercial insurance, but they include policies purchased directly by individuals and families. The primary market for individual and family plans are people who are not employed by a company, including the self-employed and small business owners.
  • Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans: Medicare is a Federal health insurance program that provides coverage for seniors who are 65 years old or older, as well as some younger people with disabilities. Medicare has several parts, including Part A, which covers hospital stays and inpatient care, Part B, which covers doctor visits and outpatient services, and Part D, which covers prescription drugs. Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called “Part C,” serve as a type of private health insurance that can be purchased by seniors in place of Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Many seniors opt to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan to help reduce out-of-pocket costs and coverage gaps, which can be especially helpful when living on a fixed income. With Federal funding and more than 12,000 people aging into Medicare every day, Medicare Advantage plans represent the most profitable type of coverage for payers.
  • Medicaid or State Insurance Plans: Each state government offers Medicaid services to provide insurance coverage for low-income individuals and families. To control costs and improve the quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries, states frequently contract with a managed care organization (MCO) to provide healthcare services to enrollees. The MCO then contracts with healthcare providers to create a network of providers who are responsible for delivering care to Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • ACA (Affordable Care Act) Insurance Plans: Also known as “Obamacare” plans, ACA plans are individual and family plans that are offered by payers through a state’s health insurance marketplace. Enrollment in these plans is only offered once a year during an open enrollment period, and financial assistance in the form of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions may be available based on income.

Marketing to the US Healthcare Payer Market

I hope this brief overview of the US Healthcare Payer Market Segmentation has been helpful. In order to paint the current picture, I’ve endeavored to use up-to-date and accurate information.

My aim is to make this the kind of article I would have found valuable when I started my journey in healthcare a decade ago. You can read a bit about my story here

If you are thinking about marketing to the US healthcare payer market, we can help. How? Through account-based Marketing (ABM)

Healthcare is one of the hardest markets to build a business in. I know this from first-hand experience. Sales cycles are longer than most other industries and the buyer collective is often very large. On the positive side, it is a highly addressable market and there are many sources of data to help you with targeting. Frankly, it is much harder to be successful in healthcare without using ABM.

To learn how we can help you use ABM to reach the healthcare payer market, check out our ABM Acceleration Process.

The Partnerships Episode – Jenna Chambers and Brittany Jones

We are doing something a little unusual in this episode, and we have two terrific guests today in this special episode on partnerships. This is a deep dive into the whole area of sales and marketing partnerships.

Our two awesome guest span seven time zones. From the UK, we have Jenna Chambers, the head of global partnerships from Terminus, the ABM platform for 1000+ companies. And from Denver, CO, we have Brittany Jones, Vice President of Partnerships for Gozio Health, which provides an end-to-end, customizable digital health mobile engagement platform for healthcare, among other things, like centralizing access to patient-facing tools, helps with hospital wayfinding and many others.

You will learn:

  • How both companies leverage partnerships for growth and delivery (e.g. integrations)
  • The strategic importance of partners, especially in customer success
  • How they find, qualify and engage partners
  • What makes a successful partnership
  • How to make the partnership thrive and grow – How to scale the program
  • The magic of Crossbeam

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