With any shift in strategy, every business needs to know the answer to one question:
How soon can we expect to see results?
Deploying an ABM strategy is no different.
It doesn’t matter how many companies have embraced ABM efforts in place of traditional demand generation models—your business is unique, and you need to know how soon it will pay off for you.
I’ve interviewed a lot of executives who have fully embraced account-based marketing in their organizations, and I asked them how soon they saw results after deploying ABM.
The answer, as you might expect, was often that it depends on the company’s unique offering and sales cycle.
But as you read some of their answers below, you might be surprised at how soon the majority of them saw results, despite their varying contexts.
Check out these 12 answers from marketing executives about how soon they saw tangible results from ABM.
When I asked Scott how long it took for CallMiner to see results from their ABM strategy, his answer was short and sweet.
“Eight weeks,” he told me.
Miller Heiman’s first ABM effort involved sending drones via direct mail to a select group of prospects.
Because of the unique nature of the effort, they saw results a mere three days after sending the drones.
As far as more scalable results since then, it was hard for Tim to give a timeline. It has a lot to do with an energized sales force.
To use a military phrase, it’s a little bit like this: if the troops on the ground (the sellers) feel like they have the air force above them doing their job, they fight harder.
“Tough question,” Ricky admitted.
Taking Pulse as an example, they had good success at a maximum of six months.
Obviously, though, this is massively dependent on a number of factors, unique to their business.
Mark identified two program cycles, that is, two nurture campaign cycles when they started seeing an uptick in engagement. It took about 30 days.
However, they did a lot of work on the front-end to prepare themselves for those 30 days.
Still, once they prioritized those segments after short testing, they saw an uptick in a month.
“You can start seeing results in 30 days,” Peter said. “It can be that quick.”
If you use account-based advertising, you can see in a 30-day period how you’re migrating target accounts onto your website, where you can engage them further.
Likewise, if you personalize your website, you can see how companies are engaging with your content quickly.
The timeline for getting the business results you want, though, depends on the sales cycle of your product.
Some Demandbase customers have $10 million deals that take 18 months, so theirs will obviously take a little longer.
It took Aria a year to pilot and understand what they were going to do, and in one quarter they’ve already seen good results.
But it took a while to decide upon the right metrics, and to be positioned to act on them.
It took InsideView about a quarter to see ABM results.
They tried a few smaller-scale warm-up efforts at first, but now they have an entire ABM strategy, a master plan, a soup-to-nuts implementation.
Tracy says that plan took about 45 days to put together.
Most marketers will have a meeting, get up in front of sales and tell them what they’re doing, and half the room is listening, while half are stressed about their quarter.
Instead, she decided to socialize individually. She and their Senior Manager of Demand Gen met individually with every single salesperson, for an hour each. They held more than 20 such meetings.
“It was critical,” Tracy insisted.
One of Growth Logik’s clients saw results in four days. Another saw a much more limited response.
“The speed of response primarily comes down to your proposition,” Simon told me. “If it’s a hot topic, people come relatively quickly. Whereas if the proposition is not so great, you do have to put more effort in.”
Haley gave me the answer everyone wants to hear as they begin to deploy an ABM strategy: Highspot saw results instantly.
They had quickly seen results in their testing, which is why they deployed ABM in the first place.
The good thing about measuring engagement, as Engagio does, is that you see results almost daily. It’s important to have that fast feedback loop in order to adjust and figure out what works.
In terms of creating actual pipeline and ultimately revenue, that can take a long time. It can take a year or more to turn some of your engagements into meaningful dollars.
All the more reason to have fast measurements.
At Peter’s previous company, he saw results in the first 30 days.
When they first started, they set a goal of 20% engagement from their target accounts in the first quarter, but they quickly saw 60% engagement and up.
Once they started multi-channel focusing on those accounts, the activity spiked up within the first 30 days, and sales opportunities with their target accounts were opening up before a month had even passed.
It took Altify three to four months to start seeing ABM results.
This was, in part, because of retooling and refocusing accounts, but also because they tried to get much more prescriptive with their plays. They had to decide what to target accounts with and what their true value prop actually was.
“We’ve been able to do it a little faster than some because we had the assets already,” Pat said.
As you can see, a common answer to how long it takes to see ABM results was 30 days.
Some said it took months, some a year-plus of preparation. But the fact that three executives gave that timeline, and several others hinted at it, is a comforting thought for marketing organizations considering full-scale ABM adoption.
Your unique sales cycle certainly affects how soon you’ll see results, and there is work to be done on the front-end to prepare your people for the shift, but the stories of so many executives seeing clearer results from ABM should help embolden the shift you’re looking to make.
Breaking metrics down into short-term wins like engagement is also a great way to help you make adjustments as needed as you move forward with ABM.
James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (that he somehow talked into marrying him).